Gumby is an American clay animation franchise, centered on a green
clay humanoid character created and modeled by Art Clokey. The
character has been the subject of two television series, a
feature-length film and other media. Since the original series aired,
Gumby has become a famous example of stop-motion clay animation and an
influential cultural icon, spawning tributes, parodies and
2.1 1953–1969: Origins
2.2 1982–1989: Revival
2.3 1990–present: Feature film and reruns
4 Reception and legacy
6 See also
8 External links
Main article: List of
Gumby follows the titular character on his adventures through
different environments and times in history. Gumby's primary sidekick
is Pokey, a talking orange pony. His nemeses are the Blockheads, a
pair of red humanoid figures with cube-shaped heads, inspired by the
trouble-making Katzenjammer Kids. Other characters include
Prickle, a yellow dinosaur who sometimes styles himself as a detective
with pipe and deerstalker hat like Sherlock Holmes; Goo, a flying blue
mermaid who spits blue goo balls and can change shape at will;
Gumbo and Gumba, Gumby's parents; and Nopey, Gumby's dog whose
entire vocabulary is the word "nope". The 1988 syndicated series added
Gumby's sister Minga, mastodon friend
Denali and chicken friend
Gumby was created by
Art Clokey in the early 1950s after he finished
film school at the
University of Southern California
University of Southern California (USC).
Clokey's first animated film was a 1953 three-minute student film
called Gumbasia, a surreal montage of moving and expanding lumps of
clay set to music in a parody of Disney's Fantasia.
created in the "kinesthetic" style taught by Clokey's USC professor
Slavko Vorkapić, described as "massaging of the eye cells." Much of
Gumby's look and feel was inspired by this technique of camera
movements and editing.
In 1955, Clokey showed
Gumbasia to movie producer Sam Engel, who
encouraged him to develop his technique by animating figures into
children's stories. Clokey moved forward, producing a pilot episode
featuring the character Gumby.
The name "Gumby" came from the muddy clay found at Clokey's
grandparents' farm that his family called "gumbo". Gumby's
appearance was inspired by a suggestion from his wife, Ruth (née
Gumby be based on the Gingerbread Man. The color
green was then chosen because Clokey saw it as both racially neutral
and a symbol of life. Gumby's legs and feet were made wide for
pragmatic reasons; they ensured that the character would stand up
during stop-motion filming. Gumby's famous slanted head was based on
the hairstyle of Clokey's father, Charles Farrington, in an old
Clokey's pilot episode was seen by
NBC executive Thomas Warren
Sarnoff, who asked Clokey to make another one. The second episode,
Gumby on the Moon, became a huge hit on Howdy Doody, leading Sarnoff
to order a series in 1955 entitled The
Gumby Show. In 1955 and
1956, 25 eleven-minute episodes aired on NBC. In early episodes,
Gumby's voice was provided by Ruth Eggleston, wife of the show's art
director Al Eggleston, until
Dallas McKennon assumed her role in
1957. Gumby's best friend, an orange pony named Pokey, was introduced
during the earliest episodes. Because of its variety-type format, The
Gumby Show featured not only Clokey's puppet films, but also
interviews and games. During this time, the show went through a
succession of two hosts, Robert Nicholson and Pinky Lee.
Mr. Stuff gives
Gumby all the goodies he can hold in "Grub Grabber
In 1959, The
Gumby Show entered syndication, and more episodes were
produced in the 1960s. Production started in Hollywood and in 1960
moved to a larger studio in Glendora, California, where it remained
until production ended in 1969. During this time,
Gumby was primarily
voiced by Norma MacMillan, and occasionally by Ginny Tyler. The
cartoon shorts introduced new characters including a blue mermaid
named Goo and a yellow dinosaur named Prickle.
Beginning in 1982,
Gumby was parodied by
Eddie Murphy on Saturday
Night Live. According to Murphy’s parody, when the television
cameras were turned off, the sweet
Gumby reverted to his true self: an
irascible, cigar-chomping celebrity who was highly demanding of the
production executives. Whenever the executives refused to give in to
Gumby would assert his star status by saying “I’m
In 1987, the original
Gumby shorts enjoyed a revival on home
video. The following year,
Gumby appeared in The Puppetoon
This renewed interest led to a reincarnation of the series consisting
of 99 new seven-minute episodes produced for television syndication in
Lorimar-Telepictures in 1987. Dallas McKennon
returned to voice
Gumby in the new adventures, in which
Gumby and his
pals traveled beyond their toyland-type setting and established
themselves as a musical band. The show also included new characters,
such as Gumby's little sister Minga, a mastodon named
Denali and a
chicken named Tilly.
In addition to the new episodes, the classic 1950s and 1960s shorts
were included in the series, but with new audio. The voices were
re-recorded and the original music was replaced by Jerry Gerber's
synthesizer score from the 1987 series. Legal issues prevented
Clokey from renewing rights to the original
Capitol Records production
1990–present: Feature film and reruns
Starting in 1992, TV channels such as
Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network
aired reruns of
Gumby episodes. In 1995, Clokey's production company
produced an independently released theatrical film, Gumby: The Movie,
marking the character's first feature-length adventure. In it, the
villainous Blockheads replace
Gumby and his band with robots and
kidnap their dog, Lowbelly. The movie featured in-joke homages to
sci-fi classics such as Star Wars,
The Terminator and 2001: A Space
Odyssey. In 1998, the
Gumby episode "Robot Rumpus" was featured on
Mystery Science Theater 3000.
On March 16, 2007,
YouTube announced that all
Gumby episodes would
appear in their full-length form on its site, digitally remastered and
with their original soundtracks. This deal also extended to other
video sites, including AOL. In March 2007,
KQED-TV broadcast an
Gumby Dharma as part of its Truly CA series.
Me-TV began airing
Gumby on weekend morning, in its weekend
morning animation block. The show remained part of the channel's
programming until the end of the year.
On April 8, 2015, it was announced that a new
Gumby series was in the
works, co-produced by the Jim Henson Company.
Gumby (1957, 1960–1967, 1987–1989, 1995), Pokey
(1960–1969), Gumbo (1960), Prickle (1964–1969), Professor Kapp
Denali (1987–1989), Nopey (1964-1967), Henry
(1987 re-dubbed), Rodgy (1987 re-dubbed), additional voices
Ginny Tyler: Gumba (1957-1960), Granny (1960), Witty Witch (1960),
Gumby (1964–1969), Pokey (1964–1969), Goo
(1964–1969), Gumba (1960's)
Gumby (1955–1956), Gumba (1955–1956)
Art Clokey: Pokey (1955–1989, 1995), Prickle (1964–1969,
1987–1989, 1995), Gumbo (1955–1989, 1995), additional voices
Don Messick: Henry (1962), Rodgy (1962), additional voices
Gloria Clokey: Goo (1987–1989, 1995), Gumba (1987-1989)
Janet McDuff: Gumba (1987–1989, 1995), Granny (1987–1989),
Holly Harman: Minga (1987–1989), Tilly (1987–1989), additional
Hal Smith: Additional voices
Taig McNab: Additional voices
Camden Angelis: Additional voices
Reception and legacy
TV Guide named
Gumby the best cartoon series of the 1950s in
its issue celebrating 40 years of television.
Beginning in 1994, the
Library of Congress
Library of Congress used
Gumby as a
"spokescharacter" for Adventures into Books: Gumby's World, a
traveling exhibition that promoted the Center for the Book's national
reading campaign from 1997 to 2000. By the end of the 1990s, Gumby
and Pokey had also appeared in various commercials for Cheerios
cereal, most notably Frosted Cheerios.
On August 4, 2006, the
Center for Puppetry Arts
Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta opened Art
Clokey's Gumby: The First Fifty Years. This exhibition featured many
of the original puppets and sets, along with screening of Art Clokey's
films. This event was conceived by David Scheve of T.D.A. Animation
and Joe Clokey of Premavision, and was one of several exhibits that
opened around the country, celebrating the 50th anniversary of The
Gumby Show. The children's book
Gumby Goes to the Sun was also
published that year to commemorate the anniversary. The book was
originally created in the 1980s by Clokey's daughter, Holly
In 2007, the
Gumby comic book series was nominated for two Eisner
Awards, Best New Series and Best Publication for a Young Audience, and
won the latter.
On October 12, 2011,
Google paid tribute to Art Clokey’s 90th
birthday with a doodle featuring clay balls transforming into
characters from the show. The doodle was composed of a toy block with
a "G" and five clay balls in the
Google colors. Clicking each of the
balls revealed the Blockheads, Prickle, Goo,
Gumby and Pokey.
In a 2014 episode of the Disney XD's
Gravity Falls called "Little Gift
Shop of Horrors", the character of Soos Ramirez appears in the "Clay
Day" segment resembling Gumby.
Screenshot of the video game
Gumby vs. the Astrobots
Gumby merchandise has been produced over the years, the most
prominent item being bendable figures. Several single packs and
multi-figure sets by Jesco (later Trendmasters), as well as a 50th
anniversary collection, have been made of the
Gumby characters. Also
included in the
Gumby merchandise catalog are plush dolls, keychains,
mugs, a 1988
Colorforms set, a 1995
Trendmasters playset and a
Kubricks set by Medicom. A tribute album, Gumby: The Green Album,
produced by Shepard Stern, was released in 1989 through Buena Vista
In August 2005, the first video game featuring Gumby,
Gumby vs. the
Astrobots, was released by
Namco for the Game Boy Advance. In it,
Gumby must rescue Pokey, Prickle and Goo after they are captured by
the Blockheads and their cohorts, the Astrobots.
Gumby images and toys are registered trademarks of Prema Toy
Premavision owns the distribution rights to the Gumby
cartoons, having been reverted from previous distributor Warner Bros.
Television in 2003, and had licensed the rights to
Classic Media until
September 30, 2012. At this time,
Classic Media was officially
DreamWorks Animation and branded as DreamWorks Classics,
which became a subsidiary of
NBCUniversal in 2016.
As of April 2015,
NCircle Entertainment owns home video and digital
distribution rights to the cartoons.
Television in the United States portal
List of films featuring clay animation
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Wikiquote has quotations related to: Gumby's creator, Art Clokey
Gumby Show on IMDb
Gumby-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television
Gumby at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on
September 1, 2016.
Gumby: The Movie
Davey and Goliath