Gumby Creator

This afternoon I googled “Gumby” to look for a photo to perhaps post on this site. Out of curiosity I clicked on “Gumby creator” and learned that the man who created Gumby died yesterday at the age of 89.  I found this to be very unusual…the timing of me writing about Gumby yesterday and just happening across an obituary stating that his creator died the same day.

His name was Art (Arthur Farrington) Clokey and his story began somewhat tragically but is quite unique.

He was born in Detroit in 1921. His parents divorced when he was 8 and not long after, Arthur’s father died in a car accident. His mother quickly remarried and his family moved to California. It was there that Arthur’s stepfather gave his mother an ultimatum, him or Arthur. She chose her new husband. I can’t imagine the confusion and pain and sorrow he must have experienced.

Arthur lived in an orphanage three years until he was adopted by composer Joseph Clokey. It sounds like his new father gave him a good life and they travelled and enjoyed camping and many adventures. Joseph eventually wrote the music that went with Art’s work!

Art was a claymation film artist. As a child he’d make things out of mud at his grandparent’s farm. As an adult, he made cartoon characters out of clay. His son said that it was just in him to create in that way.

Art only had a few photos of his birth father and it turns out he modeled the shape of Gumby’s head after the swoop of his father’s hair in one of those photos.

That’s just a snippet of his story, but it got me thinking about the many unexpected circumstances in our lives. Uncontrollable events and losses can seem disastrous, yet look at the creativity and influence of a person who presses through. Gumby was a cartoon in the 50’s and 60’s, a bendable toy in the 60’s and beyond and a movie in the 90’s. Art’s little guy brought pleasure to at least one generation of children, but I’m sure there were many more.

Goodbye Art. Thank you. Gumby will always remind us of you.

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One Response to “Gumby Creator”

  1. Claudia Kaser Says:

    I once heard that a coincidence is simply & wonderfully when God winks at you. What a special treat to receive a wink from our Creator! And sometimes, He even uses Gumby as that wink. Thanks for sharing, Kris!

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