Art Clokey, creator of the stop-motion clay animation shows Gumby and Davey and Goliath, passed away this Friday. He was 88. The New York Times has the full obituary.
Though Davey and Goliath and its Lutheran values predate my childhood, I was a religious follower of Gumby, making the show a part of my morning ritual. Gumby's friendship with Pokey took them on the most fantastic adventures, though later characters Prickle, Goo, and Denali were sometimes a bit disturbing. Mr. Clokey's obituary taught me things even I didn't know about the character, such as the origin of his design — "Gumby’s asymmetrical head, resembling a rakish pompadour, was a tribute to [Art Clokey's] biological father's prominent cowlick" — and his popularity: more violent cartoons swayed viewers away from Gumby until Eddie Murphy's bawdy interpretation of the character on Saturday Night Live brought the fans back to the original. Who knew that a seemingly disparaging parody could have such a positive effect?
If parody can then be a tribute, then I offer the following MST3K as my contribution to Mr. Clokey's memorial. "Robot Rumpus" was Gumby's third episode, having debuted on The Howdy Doody Show in August 1956: