In honor of Art Clokey’s 90th birthday, Google is honoring the Gumby creator with an interactive stop motion doodle today. The doodle, which replaces the search engine’s logo on its homepage, features a child’s block with the letter G on it. It’s followed by five colored clay balls for the remaining letters of Google’s logo. By clicking on the balls of clay, Gumby characters appear, including The Blockheads, Prickle, Goo, Gumby and Pokey. The characters pose for a moment before rolling back into a ball.
The doodle was created by Clokey Productions Premavision studios, under the direction of animator Anthony Scott. He started his career on the ‘Gumby’ series in the 1980s with Clokey. Gumby lead puppet maker Nicole La Pointe-McKay modeled the characters for the doodle.
Clokey’s son Joe, the creator of the new Gumby Web site, has said the doodle “is a perfect tribute to my father’s work…My dad would have been thrilled to be connected with Google in this way.”
When Google users click on the doodle, information about Clokey is loaded. The Gumby creator was born in 1921, and was adopted by music professor Joseph M. Clokey at the age of nine, after his father died in a car accident. The professor took him on various trips to Canada, Alaska, Siberia and the American West, which influenced his characters.
Clokey later married Ruth Parkander and the two moved to Hollywood. While tutoring the son of Sam Engel, a 20th Century Fox producer, he was asked to make a video that showed pieces of clay moving to jazz music. Engel loved the video, and offered to fund a pilot featuring the clay characters. NBC ultimately signed Clokey to a seven-year contract to make a ‘Gumby’ series. ‘The Gumby Show’ premiered in 1956 as part of the NBC Saturday morning line-up. Clokey and Parkander eventually produced 85 Gumby Adventures.
Clokey died in his sleep on January 8, 2010 at the age of 88 in his home in Los Osos, California. He suffered from a recurrent bladder infection.
Written by: Karen Benardello