What Gumby Represents to Art Clokey
“When my children were small, we would tell them stories at night, usually original stories. I never read to them from a book. They preferred to have me tell them original stories, and it was fun to do that. It was an act of love for my children so that carried over. Some of the stories were incorporated into the Gumby series. It was just a natural transition. It represented the love for all children when it got on the television screen. I didn’t have the idea of earning money from producing these films. The primary attitude was telling the children’s stories. There were millions of children who listened to my stories, and I had a special kind of rapport with the children and with their parents. It was such a strong rapport that for seven years after NBC aired the first season of the Gumby series, I didn’t allow any merchandising to be done. No dolls, no toys or anything, because I was afraid that the whole beautiful concept of loving children through television would be polluted by exploitative activity, like advertising and selling toys and other items to children and to their parents. I was afraid their parents might become suspicious that we were out to exploit them and the kids.”
Instead, Art learned that the desire for Gumby toys and other products was gigantic and had nothing to do with exploitation. He established the Prema Toy Company years later to produce toys that could be marketed by networks showing the Gumby episodes. Kids wanted Gumby dolls and their parents wanted them to have them. Gumby meant as much good to the parents as it did to the kids, and that is what drove the sale of those products. It is the same way today.
By the way, Art told us that Prema is a Sanskrit word for heart—this is all based on Gumby’s heart.