Gumby Creator Art Clokey Dead at 88
Art Clokey, whose legendary green clay TV character Gumby tickled, amused and/or confounded more than three generations of Americans, passed away in his sleep Sunday at his home in Los Osos. He was 88. A one-time orphan and would-be priest whose experimental animation blossomed into an empire of clay, Clokey first developed Gumby in 1956 for The Howdy Doody Show before spinning the grinning green slab off to his own children's series in 1957. A farewell glimpse at his handiwork -- and the unlikely fruits it wrought -- after the jump.
More spin-offs, syndication and video deals followed suit, as did some career troughs, merchandising riches and a 1995 feature film directed by Clokey. To this day, the character is perhaps inseparable from Eddie Murphy's impersonation of him as a misanthropic, disillusioned show-biz wash-out on Saturday Night Live:
And the real thing, because, well, it's Clokey's day, not Murphy's:
With backing by the Lutheran Church, Clokey and his first wife Ruth also created the program Davey and Goliath to help teach tolerance and charity. (As fate would have it, the couple's marriage would end in divorce):
Other noteworthy observations from Clokey's obit toady in the NYT: He once tried LSD under medical supervision; he loved Murphy's Gumby bit but was glad it was broadcast when kids wouldn't likely watch; and Gumby's asymmetrical head was based on his biological father's cowlick. May he rest in peace.