Gumby Green and Environmentalism
Art Clokey has been concerned about the condition of our natural environment since the 1950s. One of the reasons for Gumby’s green color is that it represents chlorophyll, which turns light into life. Clay is from the Earth. Art always used to say that Gumby comes from the Earth just as we all do. He believed that we need to protect our environment to provide a livable earth for generations to come. However, he was not pessimistic: “There are forces that will rescue us I know.”
Art contributed to these good forces with a commercial for the American Lung Association. “Gumby and Pokey are in this television spot… It is about automobile pollution, and the fumes that come out of the exhaust. It is amazing that there is all that junk in car exhaust. Pokey is trying to make children more aware that automobile exhaust isn’t good for the lungs,” Art said. “As they say, if you can’t breathe, nothing else matters. In the commercial, when Pokey inhales exhaust he turns several different colors. He makes it clear that we need to fight pollution.”
Art was eating natural, organic and whole foods long before it was thought about by most of us. “The Fantastic Farmer” episode from 1956 has a prophetic statement about chemicals getting out of control on our farms. In a classic Art Clokey twist, it was the gophers using the chemicals to increase the yields for their kids. In the 1957 episode “Rain Spirits,” there is a reverence for the land and for Native Americans that is ahead of its time. Gumby finds positive solutions to make our world a better place in the 1988 episodes “All Cooped Up,” “to Bee or Not to Bee” and “As the Worm Turns” as well as several others. That is and always has been Gumby’s M.O.: “always leave a place better than when you found it”…as Gumby’s Godfather Tom Sarnoff like to point out.