Happy Birthday, Gumby. Dammit!
Perhaps Art Clokey's best friend, other than his wife Ruth and his son Joe, was character actor, cartoon voiceman and beloved Disney icon Dallas McKennon (July 19th, 1919, LaGrande, Oregon-July 14th, 2009, Raymond, Washington). Dally was also the principal voice of Filmation's Archie Andrews and Walter Lantz' Buzz Buzzard. But Art and Dally had always had some kind of bond whenever the time came to do another bit of Gumby adventuring. Your Dragonmaster was first introduced to Dally through the Wee Sing series and the rather jolly episode called King Cole's Party, written, produced and directed by Susan Shadburne, and featuring Gary Basey as His Merry Majesty.
It was not until the early years of Eddie Murphy's run on Saturday Night Live that the Gumby franchise began to undergo a renaissance of sorts, when Murphy, sometimes with Joe Piscopo as Pokey, developed the "I'm Gumby, dammit!" series of skits, one of which featured a Christmas special! (My word!)
Art and Ruth Clokey, partnered with Dick Sutcliffe, developed Davey & Goliath for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America during the early 1960s. The show follows the adventures of the Hansen family --- John, Elaine, Davey and Sally --- and Davey's faithful dog, Goliath (only we, along with Davey himself, ever get to hear Goliath actually speak) as they and their friends Jimmy, Jonathan, Teddy, Nick and Cisco explore the Good News of God's Love through common everyday situations. Eventually, a 2004 revival, Davey and Goliath's Snowboard Christmas, was produced in part for the ABC-Owned Television Stations, but it never really recaptured the magic of the original.
We're grateful, I think, for all that Art Clokey developed for the world of children's television. On this, what would have been his 90th Birthday, let us take a brief moment to celebrate a man who did more with a mere can of Play-Doh than even the most unsuspecting 4-year-old ever could --- and turned the fruits of what he did into what most of us today still call "utter genius!"