Tag Archives: TV

Meet Gumby’s Godfather Tom Sarnoff

Gumby Central spent some quality time with Tom Sarnoff, Gumby’s Godfather. Tom, a young executive at NBC studios in the 1950s and ‘60s, greenlit the very first Gumby Show, and he’s been involved with Gumby ever since. He has made tremendous contributions to the television industry. Here’s the interview:

GC: When did you first meet Gumby creator Art Clokey?

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Tom Sarnoff (left) and Art Clokey in the ’80s

TS: I first met Art Clokey in 1955. He had been referred to me by a producer named Sam Engel. At the time I was Director of Production and Business Affairs of NBC, West Coast. Art showed me his Gumbasia film and some film of the Gumby character. I was very intrigued by what I saw, and recommended to the Program Department, headquartered in New York, that we make a deal with Art to develop the Gumby concept. Gumby was first tested on the Howdy Doody Show, and he came across as a winner. As a result, I made a deal with Art for a series.

GC: Why are you called Gumby’s Godfather?

TS: I guess… because I recommended and made the first deal for the series, and because I have been with and have been making deals for Gumby for his whole 61 years. Also, even though Gumby was the creation of Art Clokey, I have always felt something special for him and that he was “a part of me,” too.

GC: You knew Art Clokey for more than 50 years. What was Art Clokey like?

TS: Art was completely dedicated to his creations and very serious about whatever was done with Gumby. On the other hand, he fortunately also had a very good sense of humor, which he used with great success in his Gumby episodes.

I very much enjoyed working with Art. I thought that he was extremely creative, so I gave him pretty free rein in his TV series deal; and, I think it worked out well. I was also very pleased and flattered that Art came to me after we were no longer with NBC and asked me to help him get Gumby restarted. Although we tried to get a movie made, we wound up making a deal with Lorimar for a new TV series.

GC: Tom Sarnoff has worked closely with other TV, Film and Music icons.

He negotiated all of the contracts with Bob Hope for his NBC TV specials and series and all of Elvis’ NBC deals. He worked at NBC for 25 years, and in addition to his television accomplishments, he was instrumental in producing NBC’s Disney on Parade and Peter Pan arena shows. He served as an executive producer for the Bonanza TV movies and a number of Broadway productions. After founding his own company, Tom produced his own world-touring arena shows, such as Yabba Dabba Doo, featuring Hanna-Barbera characters.

Sarnoff has been a keen participant in many activities within the television Industry—he served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) and was instrumental in establishing the Television Academy Foundation, among other key roles. He has also played an active leadership role in many civic and community affairs, including the Special Olympics, for which he assisted his wife Jan (President of the California chapter, 1971-85).

GC: Your father David Sarnoff is a legend in the television industry, and he’s credited with founding NBC. He’s mentioned in all the film history books. I’m sure that he influenced your choice of career. Could you speak a bit about him?

TS: My father, who was responsible for the formation of NBC, was also the visionary who envisioned television, brought it to life, and established the television industry.

During the early years of TV development, NBC experimented with showing cartoons such as Felix the Cat. In 1931 they built a studio to experiment with live broadcasting. When they were ready to expose their accomplishment, my father gathered together a group of distinguished citizens including bankers, politicians, etc. and told them what they were going to see. He pulled off a black cloth that was covering the TV monitor and said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the first broadcast of live television.” Unbeknownst to him, however, but with the collusion of my mother, I had been sneaked over to the studio. When the black cloth was removed, out popped on the screen a little four-year old boy who waved and said, “Hello, Daddy.” I’m sure that it took a while for my father to recover from that shock when he had expected some dancing girls.

I still can feel the extreme heat of the klieg lights that they used in the studio those days, and that experience will be etched in my memory forever. Unfortunately, they did not pick up my option so I never really became a TV star.

GC: You’re a star in our book. You have an amazing list of accomplishments, too numerous to mention here. We’ve heard you say that Gumby’s strength is his character, and that “he always leaves a place better than how he found it.” You’re definitely a Gumby kindred spirit.

Thank you for joining us Tom. It has been an honor to meet with you.

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New Gumby DVD, The 60s, Hits Stores February 23

The Adventures of Gumby, 1960s, Volume 1 gift set just released on February 23, 2016. This set includes over 40 episodes from the early ‘60s, and a ’60’s style 4.5” bendable Pokey toy. It’s available at Gumby.com and major retailers such as Target, WalMart, Best Buy, Sam’s Club, Barnes and Noble, groceries and many more.

Gumby 1960s DVD gift set with Pokey bendable toy

Joe Clokey, son of Art and Ruth Clokey, the creators of the Gumby, found the original camera film rolls in the archives, and he has lovingly restored them. The film held up beautifully over the decades; the episodes look as though they were just created. The episodes are shown in their original lengths with the original soundtracks.

The DVD includes some great bonus features, including the charming first pilot (with sound) that aired on NBC in which Gumby sings an entertaining song about himself. Other special features include: Space Ball, a rare episode that first introduced Professor Kapp; a tour of the 1964 Clokey Productions studio; and a special behind-the-scenes photo gallery.

Volume 2 of the 1960s will be released in the fall of 2016. Following that, NCircle Entertainment will be releasing The Gumby Movie (1990s), re-mastered in its full length. The 80’s series will launch after that.

Here’s a fan review of the new set:

“Just got my NEW Gumby set, which includes the shorts that were made in the 60s. What a great set! They went back to the original camera elements to make a transfer that is above and beyond your wildest dreams……..PLUS……..they have their original soundtracks, unlike the set that was released by RHINO years ago. Those had replaced music and voice tracks, all synthesized. This is the real deal! I loved Gumby and Pokey when I was growing up and I love them still. Hats off to Joe Clokey for a terrific job in helping to keep his clay brother alive! In case you DON’T know, Joe is the son of Gumby’s creator Art Clokey. PLUS a bonus on the DVD……the ACTUAL pilot that launched the series. Before this set, it was always thought that GUMBY ON THE MOON was the pilot……it was a little film that I had in my own collection entitled “Gumby Business, a Sample”. The Clokey company had some footage from this landmark film but I supplied them with the complete film with it’s original soundtrack. Thanks to legendary TV pioneer E Roger Muir, producer of The Howdy Doody Show, this film survived. It is the actual print they used on Howdy Doody on June 16, 1955 that Roger and his wife Barbara archived and eventually gave to me. As the wonderful song on the show goes……”if you’ve got a heart then Gumby’s a part of You…..” It STILL holds true today. Thank You Joe Clokey for another wonderful collection! Gumby and Pokey ARE a part of YOU! Now, I’m gonna watch Gumby and Pokey!” -Jack Roth

A favorite iconic character of the past six decades, Gumby brings back fond memories for fans of all ages, while their children and grandchildren are mesmerized by Gumby on YouTube, Kabillion (a free on-demand network) and many other Internet based platforms. Gumby, the world’s original clayboy is truly timeless. His limitless adventures enchant each new generation.

Get your DVD set here.

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Gumby Episodes Air on Teletoon

Gumby, The World’s Original Clayboy Turns 60.

Re-mastered episodes from the ’50s and ’60s make global debut on TELETOON Retro Sunday, January 4 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

12/18/2014.

(TORONTO, ON) The timeless adventures of Gumby return to television this January as TELETOON Retro brings the world’s original clayboy back with newly re-mastered episodes from the ’50s and ’60s. Set to make its global television premiere on TELETOON Retro Sunday, January 4 at 7 p.m. ET/PT, the network will also commemorate Gumby on his 60th birthday, Thursday, January 29 with a special marathon airing at 6 p.m. ET/PT.

“We are thrilled that TELETOON Retro will be the first network to broadcast the re-mastered episodes of this classic series,” says Jocelyn Hamilton, Vice President, Programming and Original Productions, Corus Kids. “Gumby is a pop culture icon that resonates with fans of all ages and we couldn’t think of a better time to re-introduce the series as we celebrate Gumby’s 60th birthday.”

1950s Gumby with FiretruckThe series follows the fun-filled adventures of the everyday hero Gumby, who is full of wonder and awe, and is always leaving a place better than when he found it. With his best pony pal and voice of reason, Pokey, they magically transport to locales near and far, overcoming any obstacle that they meet including the mischievous troublemakers, The Blockheads.

Created by stop motion pioneer Art Clokey, Gumby captured the imagination and hearts of children around the world as the first stop motion clay animated television series. Initially appearing on the Howdy Doody Show in 1956, the little green slab of clay transcended as a stand-alone television series across major network in 146 countries, commissioned over 200 episodes and continues to be a relevant pop culture icon today.

“Gumby has inspired the hearts of millions around the world with adventures steeped in imagination, action, surrealism, heart and humor,” says Joe Clokey, Head of Gumby Studios.  “There is a special fondness for Gumby in Canada, so I’m thrilled that TELETOON Retro will be the first to air the newly re-mastered episodes from their original camera rolls and soundtracks.  You’ve never seen Gumby like this before!”

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About TELETOON Retro

TELETOON Retro presents classic cartoons all day, every day. A nostalgic throwback to favourites of the past, TELETOON Retro delivers new laughs with familiar friends that the whole family can watch, revisit and enjoy. TELETOON Retro gives viewers an opportunity to relive their favourite animated moments while introducing a whole new generation to beloved cartoon classics. TELETOON Retro is owned by Canadian-based media and entertainment company Corus Entertainment Inc. For more information, please visit teletoonretro.com and corusent.com.

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Gumby Launches on Kabillion TV Network

Re-mastered Gumby Episodes to Air in November

Big news! Your favorite Gumby episodes will be back on TV! Kabillion, one of the Top 10 Kids Free On Demand TV networks will launch Gumby episodes in mid November. Kabillion is available in over 45 million households in the U.S., so check your cable menu. There is a good chance that you already have this station in the “free” section of the menu. The Kabillion network is provided by most of the major cable companies: Time Warner, Comcast, Verizon, Charter, Bright House, Blue Ridge Communications, and more. Read about Kabillion here. Check out Kabillion’s YouTube station to watch online.

Kabillion logoJoe Clokey, son of Gumby creators Art and Ruth Clokey, has recently re-mastered the classic Gumby episodes from their original camera film rolls and included the original soundtracks. Gumby is brighter, more colorful and more fun than ever! You’ve never seen Gumby like this before! With 209 episodes, the longtime hit series has aired in over 146 countries and touched many generations, first airing in the mid 1950s, and continuing into the 2000s.

“My parents created Gumby as a gift of love to children and the child within all of us,” commented Joe Clokey. “People from all generations have been enthralled with these timeless imaginative adventures.  Families today want to have 24/7 access to content and we are delighted to be partnering with Kabillion who can now make this happen for our Gumby fans everywhere.”

“For well over fifty years, Gumby has inspired people of all ages and nationalities with the shows central concept of lending a helping hand to others. Gumby has truly become a cultural icon,” commented Nicolas Atlan, Kabillion President & Splash Entertainment co-CEO. “We are excited to bring Gumby to our audience as it is a show that crosses multiple generations and will provide a great co-viewing experience,” added David Di Lorenzo, Vice President Licensing and Digital Distribution for Kabillion.

Stayed tuned… more announcements and official launch dates to come.

P.S. To our Canadian fans: You’re going to love what we have in store for you!

 

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