Art Clokey, the creator of the whimsical clay figure Gumby, died in his sleep Friday at his home in Los Osos, Calif., after battling repeated bladder infections, his son Joseph said. He was 88.
Clokey and his wife, Ruth, invented Gumby in the early 1950s at their Covina home shortly after Art had finished film school at USC. After a successful debut on “The Howdy Doody Show,” Gumby soon became the star of its own hit television show, “The Adventures of Gumby,” the first to use clay animation on television.
Clokey created Gumby and company in the 1950’s after having graduated form the USC film school. Gumby was probably unique in terms of when he could have been created, being as much a product of the technology available at the time as he was a product of Clokey’s imagination. The story lines are certainly campy late nineteen fifties, early nineteen sixties fodder. but even absent the aspects of time, the technology available today would completely change the characters Clokey created. I personally have difficulty imagining Gumby as implemented by Pixar, for example… as much as I respect their work. Let’s face it… a lot of the attraction of those characters Clokey created, were actually artifacts of the filmmaking process that he developed.Itw as a look and ‘feel’ unlike anything else on the market at the time. And they’re now, alas, merely quaint artifacts themselves.
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