Fifty Years Later and Gumby is Still as Bendable as Ever

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Exhibition produced by TheDeepArchives Inc. will feature Artwork and Films by Legendary Animator, Art Clokey at New York's Museum of the Moving Image

Everyone’s favorite little green slab of clay turns fifty this year, and there is certainly no signs of slowing down for Gumby® and his good pal Pokey™ at least not with several major projects featuring those lovable clayboys already in the works. Beginning this summer a major museum exhibition conceived by David Scheve of TheDeepArchives, will be held beginning June 18, 2005 at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York. In addition Gumby fans can look forward to the upcoming release of two Rhino DVDs featuring the original 1980s episodes as well as the upcoming release of the Namco video game entitled, Gumby vs. the Astrobots.

Its hard to believe that fifty years have passed since Art Clokey, the legendary stop-motion animator, created the animated short, Gumbasia. It was in 1953 while attending USC that Clokey produced the ground-breaking film which featured clay animation set to jazz music. However, it was while tutoring at a military academy called Harvard School, that Clokey got his big break. Sam Engel, a producer at 20th Century Fox and father of Clokey’s student became fascinated with the animator’s three and half minute short; calling it the most exciting film he’d ever seen in his life. Interested in improving the quality of children’s television programming, Engel quickly agreed to finance the pilot for a series that featured clay characters created by Clokey. So, in 1955, with a little experimentation and the help of a rolling pin and a cookie cutter, Gumby was born.

With a newly completed pilot film in hand, Clokey approached Tom Sarnoff at NBC; who in turn had the film “audience tested” on the Howdy Doody Show. Gumby was an immediate hit with children, and, in 1956, the newly formed Clokey Productions began producing the first of 22 episodes which were to become a new hit series for NBC.

As the 1950s came to a close, Clokey, along with his wife Ruth whom he had met at the Hartford Seminary School while studying to become an Episcopal priest, collaborated with the Lutheran Church to produce a new children’s television series called Davey and Goliath; which was first filmed in Hollywood and later at the Clokey’s new spacious Glendora studios.        

The 1960s was a busy time for Clokey Productions. By the time production on the first season of Davey and Goliath had wrapped, the company was already hard at work on the New Gumby Adventure Series. However instead of cookie cutters and rolling pins, the Clokeys re-created the characters with the help of poured molds. The new series was a smash hit. Children tuned in to see Gumby helping the Mayflower find America, as well as assisting George Washington on his trip across the Delaware. In sum total 85 six minute adventures were produced along with most of the 65 fifteen minute Davey and Goliath episodes. And finally, much to the enjoyment of children and the relief of parents around the country, Art and Ruth relented their decision to forgo merchandising, and in the mid 1960s the first Gumby toys started appearing on store shelves around the country. An amazing 13 million Gumby and Pokey bendables were sold in the first few years alone.

In the 1970s Clokey productions went through a series of significant changes. Ruth Goodell Clokey headed the studio herself, and finished up work on the final episodes of both Gumby and Davey. In addition, the studio also accepted other projects creating a series of clay animation specials for the Reader’s Digest; which were aired on national television. These included I am Joe’s Heart, and I am Joe’s Lung. During this transitional time Clokey, the man who started it all, found himself creating art films in the basement of his home. One of these Art films entitled, Mandala, featured the sculpting talents of his new wife Gloria Harmon, his step daughter, Holly, as well as his own children Ann and Joe Clokey.

During the 1980s, Gumby staged his first major comeback after a series of Saturday Night Live sketches featuring Eddie Murphy that catapulted Gumby firmly into the “icon” status within the world of pop culture. It wasn’t long before the original 1950s and 60s episodes were back on television and discovered by a whole new generation of children. In 1987, Clokey formed Premavision, and began work on 99 new Gumby episodes which were funded by Lorimar and produced at Clokey’s Sausalito based studio. With yet another successful new series, Clokey set his sights on finishing the script for a full length animated film entitled, Gumby the Movie; which was produced for a mere fraction of the budget required by most animated features. The film sold close to a million copies when released on home video, and was aired on HBO, Showtime, and the Disney channel.

In the middle 90's Nickelodeon used all of the Gumby Adventures from the 1950's, 60's and 80's for the network’s 8:00 am and 2:00 pm time slots. The shows remained Nickelodeon’s anchor program for over three years.

With June 2005 quickly approaching Gumby and Pokey, along with their pals Prickle ™ and Goo™, are poised for another comeback; this time in red carpet fashion when they kick off Summer 2005 at New York’s Museum of the Moving Image. Clokey himself will be on hand to greet fans and sign autographs at the event which was conceived by David Scheve, director of TheDeepArchives Inc, a company which produces animation related shows and events.

“Art Clokey’s films have delighted countless generations of children and adults,” said Scheve, who is also the company’s founder; “while simultaneously teaching us all about history, literature, and morality!”

Following closely on the heels of the Clokey exhibition will be the release of Namco’s Video game, Gumby vs. the Astrobots. Scheduled for the fall 2005 is the Rhino DVD boxed set, which will feature the best Gumby episodes from the last fifty years.

Established in 1977, The Museum of the Moving Image is located at 35 Avenue at 36 street, in Astoria, New York. The exhibition opens June 18, 2005 and runs through January 2006.

For more information about the event please contact David Scheve at TheDeepArchives Inc. To learn more about Gumby, Art Clokey or stop-motion animation, visit
TheDeepArchives Inc. (551)998-4552

Museum Information


Wednesdays & Thursdays: 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Fridays: 12:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Saturdays & Sundays: 11:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

(Tuesdays, school groups only by appointment.)


Adults: $10.00

Senior citizens/college students with ID: $7.50

Children (age 5-18): $5.00

Members, children under 5: Free

Fridays, 4:00 to 8:00 p.m.: Free

Paid Admission includes film screenings.


35 Avenue at 36 Street in Astoria

By subway take R or V trains (R or G on weekends) to Steinway Street—N or W trains to 36 Avenue.

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