ELCA NEWS SERVICE
January 11, 2010
Art Clokey, Animator, Lutheran Church TV Series 'Davey and Goliath,' Dies
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The popular, animated television series Davey and Goliath, was a huge part of Art Clokey's life, said his son, Joe, following his father's death Jan. 8 at his home in Los Osos, Calif. The younger Clokey said his father, who had not been well in recent years, died in his sleep. Art Clokey was 88.
The family is planning a private funeral service for family and close friends, Joe Clokey said.
Clokey and his wife Ruth, who died in 2008, were best known as the creators of Gumby, beginning in the 1950s, which became a pop-culture icon. In 1959 the United Lutheran Church in America approached Clokey Productions Inc. to create a new television show for the church similar to the Gumby series, Joe Clokey said.
"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."
Shortly after work on Davey and Goliath began, the Clokeys were joined by children's book author Nancy Moore, who wrote many scripts for the stop-motion animated series. Its main characters were Davey Hansen and his talking dog, Goliath, who was Davey's conscience, according to the official Web site for the program. The first of 65 Davey and Goliath episodes, each 15 minutes in length, was broadcast in 1960.
Davey and Goliath adventures were known for "uplifting, moral lessons on topics such as responsibility, care for the environment, acceptance of all people, and other valuable lessons designed to affirm a child's faith in God in an entertaining way," according to the official Web site.
Art Clokey wrote some scripts early in the series, Joe Clokey said. The elder Clokey was particularly proud of two episodes he wrote, "Silver Mine" and "A Sudden Storm," his son said.
"Davey and Goliath is a wonderful show. I always tell people that Davey and Goliath represented the spiritual side of my dad. Davey and Goliath wasn't polarizing -- the message always was that 'no matter who you are, God loves you,'" Joe Clokey said. People of all faiths and backgrounds often expressed their appreciation for the show to the elder Clokey throughout his life, he said.
Davey and Goliath ended its longtime run on television in 1975. In 1988 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was formed though a merger of three Lutheran churches. The ELCA maintains full rights to the Davey and Goliath properties, managing use of the characters and program distribution.
"We still hear from individuals, schools and congregations interested in acquiring Davey and Goliath programs," said Kristi S. Bangert, executive director, ELCA Communication Services. "Recently, Communication Services restored the originals, and re-edited and released 13 additional titles known as the 'lost' episodes."
In recent years Davey and Goliath has been referenced in movies and television programs, and the two appeared in commercials for the soft drink, "Mountain Dew." In 2003 the ELCA produced a documentary, Oh Davey … History of the Davey and Goliath Television Series, featuring Art and Ruth Clokey.
In 2004 a new hour-long program, Davey and Goliath's Snowboard Christmas was created by the ELCA and a team of animators led by Joe Clokey, through Premavision Inc. (Clokey Productions). Snowboard Christmas was broadcast on Hallmark Channel, and has been rebroadcast numerous times since.
"My dad and I worked on Snowboard Christmas. He loved seeing Davey and Goliath back in action again," Joe Clokey said.
Davey and Goliath won several awards, including many Gabriel Awards during its television run. The series founders were presented the 2004 Wittenberg Award by the Luther Institute, an affiliate of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.), for outstanding contribution to church and society. In 2005 Snowboard Christmas was recognized by the Telly Awards and won a Platinum Best of Show Award for children/youth programming in the Aurora Awards.
Art Clokey was born in 1921 in Detroit. He earned a bachelor's degree from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and attended Hartford (Conn.) Seminary, where he was studying to be a priest of the Episcopal Church, when he met Ruth, a Lutheran. "They married, and went to Hollywood to make religious films together," Joe Clokey said.
The Clokeys had two children: Ann, who died in 1974, and Joe. Art and Ruth Clokey were divorced in 1966. In 1976 he married his second wife, Gloria, who died in 1998.
In addition to his son, Clokey is survived by three grandchildren; a stepdaughter, Holly Harman; a sister, Arlene Cline, Phoenix; and a half-sister, Patricia Anderson, Atlanta.
Information about Davey and Goliath is at http://www.daveyandgoliath.org on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or firstname.lastname@example.org