Gumby, America's favorite claymation figure, is hanging out with Pokey and the gang on Google today in the latest doodle in honor of the recently departed Art Clokey.
Using a different kind of animation, the team at Google has created a fitting tribute to Clokey, who died just last year.
Google's home-page doodle celebrates what would have been Clokey's 90th birthday. It also celebrates the launch of Gumby World, which features anecdotes, pictures, biographies, and rare footage.
The doodle - which starts off with a collection of clay balls and a child's wooden letter block - was created by top animator Anthony Scott and puppet/prop maker Nicole LaPointe-McKay for Clokey Productions Premavision studios.
When you click on each ball (or the block) the classic figures like Prickle the yellow dinosaur and the Blockheads spring to life. Click on Gumby and he will turn into a heart. After all, as the theme song says, If you've got a heart, then Gumby's a part of you.
Gumby and his principle sidekick Pokey were the stars of a 233-episode series that began as a student project at the University of Southern California before it debuted on The Howdy Doody Show in the mid-1950s. The Gumby Show was later picked up by NBC and ran for nearly 35 years.
Clokey said that he based Gumby's swooping head on the cowlick hairdo of his father, who died in a car accident when Clokey was nine. Clokey's first wife then suggested that he give Gumby the body of a gingerbread man.
Clokey got his start in commercials. On a shoot for a 1953 Budweiser commercial, Clokey was asked to make it seem as though a piece of cheese was disappearing. He did so using clay and stop motion animation, which inspired him to prefect the practice.
This led to the creation of Gumbasia, a 3.5-minute music video that showed pieces of clay moving to jazz music.
In a strike of luck, Clokey just so happened to be tutoring the son of a 20th Century Fox producer at the time, who invited Clokey to show off Gumbasia. The producer, Sam Engel, loved it so much that he offered to fund a pilot featuring Clokey's characters, which NBC eventually picked up.
The bendable Gumby became a pop culture phenomenon through decades of toys, revivals, and satires.
At first Clokey was very hesitant about marketing the character as a toy.
I didn't allow merchandising for seven years after it was on the air, Clokey told San Luis Obispo Tribune in 2002, because I was very idealistic, and I didn't want parents to think we were trying to exploit their children.
Though the show was on air for decades, Clokey did not start seeing serious financial returns on his creation until the 1980s when Eddie Murphy's satire brought a surge in Gumby's popularity.
Murphy's Gumby brought new toy sales and eventually led to a new syndicated series starting in 1988. It took 40 years, but Clokey finally began making serious money.
Clokey also lent his voice to the 1995 feature film Gumby: The Movie.
It wasn't all about Gumby, Clokey had other shows as well. He and his first wife Ruth also created the animated Davey and Goliath for the Lutheran Church.
Clokey, who suffered from repeated bladder infections, died in his sleep at his home in Los Osos on California's Central Coast in January of 2010. He was 88.
The Google doodle is a perfect tribute to my father's work, Clokey's son Joe, creator of the new Gumby Web site, said in a statement. Art's life and career were ahead of their time. My dad would have been thrilled to be connected with Google in this way.
Have a look at the work of Art Clokey below and be prepared from some serious nostalgia: