SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Art Clokey, the creator of the iconic cartoonish clay figure Gumby, died in his sleep on Friday at his home in Los Osos, California, at age 88, after battling repeated bladder infections, his son said.
Clokey, 88, invented the whimsical green clay character Gumby in the early 1950s that debuted on the "The Howdy Doody Show" and went on to become the star of his own successful television show, "The Adventures of Gumby."
Bendable creation Gumby and Pokey, his horse friend, became popular figures in the 1960s, and still remain favorites among many kids, adults and collectors around the world.
Clokey was born Arthur Farrington in Detroit in October 1921 and grew up making mud figures on his grandparents' Michigan farm, the Los Angeles Times said, citing his son Joseph. "He always had this in him," Joseph told the Times.
Gumby was the outcome of an 1953 experimental clay animation film by Clokey called "Gumbasia." Clokey also created and produced the Christian TV series "Davey and Goliath" in the 1960s.
Clokey has said he based Gumby's sloping head and hair on a picture of his father, who died in a car accident when the filmmaker was 8 years old.
Clokey was later adopted by music teacher and composer Joseph W. Clokey, who taught him the arts and took his new son on adventures in Mexico and Canada.
Joseph Clokey told the Times that those journeys and Clokey's love of fossil hunting helped inspire Gumby's own adventures.
The lovable character saw renewed popularity in the 1980s after comedian Eddie Murphy mimicked Gumby as a gruff cigar-smoking character for "Saturday Night Live."
Reporting by Poornima Gupta; Editing by Bill Trott