If you’re wondering why Google is featuring Gumby on its homepage today, look no further. Today would have been the 90th birthday of Gumby creator Art Clokey. The interactive stop motion homepage doodle features the best-known characters from Clokey’s creation, which has lived in pop culture for more than five decades. “Art Clokey was an innovator in the field of animation and also a compassionate, inspiring artist,” said Google doodler Sophia Foster-Dimino. “We were excited to work with the incredibly talented animator Anthony Scott to produce this doodle, and we hope that it brightens your day!”
So, young Facebook generation, are you wondering who Gumby even is? (For shame!) Gumby’s origins reach back to Gumbasia, Clokey’s jazzy 1953 claymation nod to Fantasia, but the mint green icon-in-the-making got his big break in his 1956 television debut on The Howdy Doody Show. Gumby earned his own NBC show — one of the first extended uses of stop-motion animation on television — the next year. Gumby appropriately proved himself to be pliable and adaptable as his adventures appeared in various incarnations during a 233-episode run throughout the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s. Clokey last brought the little guy to screens in 1995’s Gumby: The Movie, though Clokey himself was the subject of the 2006 documentary Gumby Dharma.
With an adorable swooping head inspired by the cowlick hairdo of Clokey’s late father, Gumby seemed a ready-made fit in pop culture from the moment he first hit airwaves. Through the years, Gumby dolls, rearview mirror toys, plushies, video games, and other paraphernalia have sold like hotcakes. He made his way into films like 1984’s iconic Spinal Tap and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1988 action flick Red Heat. Most famously, Eddie Murphy satirized Gumby on Saturday Night Live, who sent up Clokey’s lovable green guy as a cigar smoking lout, and TV Gumby even has his own Hulu page. So get caught up, why don’t you?
So, PopWatchers, who was your favorite character? Did you love Gumby best, or were you more of a Pokey fan? What’s your favorite Gumby reference in pop culture?