Art Clokey, the creator of the animated icon Gumby and his clay
Christian counterparts “Davey and Goliath,” died Jan. 8 at his home in
California. He was 88.
His son, Joe Clokey, told The New York Times that his father
died in his sleep.
Though Art Clokey was best known for “Gumby,” his work on
the television program “Davey and Goliath” showed “the spiritual side of my dad,”
Joe Clokey told the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s news service.
A forerunner of the ELCA, the United Lutheran Church in
America, approached Clokey and his wife, Ruth, in 1959 to create a Gumby-like show
for the church, Joe Clokey told the ELCA.
“The Lutherans contacted them, and
asked them to create a show with the theme of ‘God loves everyone,’” he said.
“They put all of their hearts into it,” Joe Clokey said.
The “Davey and Goliath” episodes, which developed a loyal
following from 1960-1975, were 15 minutes long — about the length of some
sermons — and known for imparting simple moral lessons.
Often Davey invited trouble
by ignoring the advice of Goliath, his conscience-ridden talking dog, before
repenting and returning to Christian values.
According to a 2006 documentary called “Gumby Dharma,”
Clokey was a spiritual seeker who attended seminary intending to become an
Episcopal priest before working in television; later he became interested in Eastern
religions during the countercultural wave of the 1960s.
He believed his luck
turned around after an Indian guru blessed Gumby, according to the film.
The ELCA continues to own the rights to “Davey and Goliath,”
and resurrected the duo for a 2004 Christmas special that featured new characters
like Sam, who was Jewish, and Yasmeen, a Muslim.
James Martin, a Jesuit priest and associate editor of America
magazine, said the “gentle morality” of the “Davey and Goliath” shows “made an
“Of course I learned the same things at home … but these Protestant
lessons had, somehow, a different flavor to them,” Martin wrote on America’s
blog. “It reminded me of what the minister used to give Davey: simple,
sensible, no-nonsense morality.”