In the early 1950's, Art Clokey produced commercials for Andersen's Pea Soup using elements of stop motion and live action. Coca Cola and Budweiser saw these and hired Art to produce a series of spots featuring their products. These commercials used slap stick humor a la Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplain.


In 1955 while studying under Slavko Vorkapich at USC Film School, Art produced a student film called Gumbasia. It was clay animation shot to the beat of jazz music. Art showed this to Sam Engel of 20th Century Fox. Sam paced the floor a few times and then said: "Art, that's the most excting film I've ever seen. We've got to go into business together." Art thought that he was going to work with Sam's current live action projects with the likes of Sophia Loren, but then Sam continued: "Can you make little clay figures and animate them into children's stories? I want to improve the quality of childrens TV." Art and his wife Ruth both felt the same way about the need for better childrens programing because of their one year old daughter. So Art told Sam yes
he could do that.

(left)
Art's Father
Arthur Farrington,
inspiration for
Gumby's bump
 

Art Produced a pilot with a green clay character called Gumby, and the rest is history. Art always refers to Sam Engel as the Godfather of Gumby. Sam did not want to make money off of it, he just wanted to improve children's TV. Art and Ruth Clokey had met at Hartford Seminary school Studying religious education. Their values created the passion for the wildly popular Gumby and Davey and Goliath to come.

Tom Sarnoff (son of General Sarnoff, the founder of NBC) saw the Pilot and had it successfully audience tested on the Howdy Doody Show. Gumby then got it's own show on NBC. The newly formed Clokey Films produced twenty two 12 minute shows in 1956 and 1957. By the early 60's these shows were edited into forty-four 6 minute episodes. The 50's episodes have Gumby with a clay mouth and red beads for eyes. These Gumbys and Pokeys were made with rolling pins and cookie cutters. They have a much more hand-made free flowing artistic look than the 60's versions which were clay made from molds. The 50's Gumby adventures were produced in a Clokey Films (Later Clokey Productions) studio in Hollywood.


In 1959 the Lutheran Church wanted to produce children's TV programming with good morals and lessons. They saw Gumby and liked the appeal of stop motion animation and loving stories. Ruth and Art Clokey collaborated with the Lutheran Church to produce a new children's television series. From 1961 to 1975 Clokey Productions created 65 fifteen minute Davey and Goliath episodes and six half hour specials.