610: Gumby to “Catcher,” icons of youth fade as their creators exit life’s stage

ow many of us curled up near the TV to watch Gumby or Davey and Goliath shuffle across the TV screen—or later in high school—discovered Holden Caulfield’s acerbic take on adult life?
    Maybe you only discovered Gumby when Eddie Murphy revived the green guy’s star status in those hilarious sketches involving a grumpy old Gumby, retired like so many other vintage stars? Maybe you only caught Davey and his lovable dog Goliath in a DVD re-release? Maybe you had a love-hate relationship with J.D. Salinger’s once-daring novel?
    Well, the two creative geniuses behind these tales made it through the first decade of this new century, but now they both have exited life’s stage within a couple of weeks of each other.
    Art Clokey, the TV innovator who created both Gumby and Davey, died January 8 at age 88.
    J.D. Salinger, whose quirky private life proved to be almost as popular as his most celebrated novel, died January 27 at age 91.

Our question today is: What’s their legacy in your life?
    Where does your own life fit into the spectrum from sweet-as-cotton-candy Gumby/Davey—to the acid-as-day-old-coffee Holden Caulfield? Maybe you’ve experienced the entire spectrum in your life? Many of us have!
    We want to hear from you at [email protected] this week about these giants exiting life’s stage.

    When I heard Salinger died, I immediately thought of articles in newspapers and magazines over the past couple of years arguing that “Catcher in the Rye” is so dated now that many educators have cut the book from reading lists—or are arguing for dropping the book in the future.
    And, as much as I can see the creative beauty in a classic “Davey and Goliath” episode—and appreciate the liberating power of Salinger’s tough kid in the odd-ball red hat—I do suspect that these are creatures so specific to the last century that they may not last long in the new.
    It’s true that we all love Charles Dickens, 140 years after his death, but who today knows much about the equally lionized novelists of that era: Wilkie Collins and Edward Bulwer-Lytton? (Hint: Lytton penned, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Collins was Dickens’ close friend who wrote best-selling thrillers, including “The Woman in White.”)
    As you think about what you might say to our question, today, here are some fascinating Web links to enjoy …


    Here’s his Wikipedia page if you care for a more encyclopedic look at his life.
    My own favorite news story about Salinger this week comes from the Rutland Herald in Vermont. It’s a story about how much fun his neighbors in Cornish had, over the years, trying to keep visitors from pestering their friend. Sounds like the plot for a delightful film someday!
    Of course, there’s still mystery about his death. Here’s the New York Daily News on the speculation about what manuscripts Salinger may have locked away in his safe. And, of course, we wonder whether such manuscripts should ever see the light of day. Maybe a locked safe is a far better tribute to Salinger than a cascade of literary cast offs.
    But do we need any more? I think not. Salinger did so much already! If you’re game for a dazzling stream-of-consciousness-connect-the-dots overview of all the cultural bells Salinger helped us ring—then you’ll enjoy writer A.M. Holmes’ fabulous tribute in the New Yorker to Salinger’s power to shape young lives.
    Want to

read “The Catcher in the Rye” again? Here’s an Amazon link to order a copy right now. (And, E-readers? Nope! Among the Salinger quirks—there still isn’t a Kindle edition.)


    First, here’s his Wikipedia page if you care for an overview of his life and work.
    The Wall Street Journal’s tribute to Clokey includes a couple of fun links—one to the NBC video clip of Eddy Murphy’s famous “Broadway-Gumby-Rose” sketch and also a clip of the real “Gumby.”
     The single coolest Gumby/Davey Web site is within a larger online project called the Deep Archives. The overall Web site is a collection of images, artifacts and short histories on pioneers in animation. I’ve found the site’s navigation also is sometimes a bit odd. But, it’s a site worth visiting! Here’s the Art Clokey page, which includes interesting images of archival materials related to his TV shows. (Special thanks to Detroit Free Press staff writer Joe Swickard for first alerting us to this archival link!)

    If you’re really enthralled by Clokey, the folks behind the Emmy awards have a much more professionally designed Web site, which includes hours of interviews with Clokey—conveniently divided into segments you can watch online.
    Finally, here’s a link to the Amazon page for “Davey And Goliath: The Lost Episodes,” which I think is one of the best DVD collections of classic episodes. These 10 shows span 1962 to 1972 and include “Polka Dot Tie,” the tale of a new kid who is mercilessly teased because he wears a polka dot tie. Nearly half a century later, the Polka Dot episode still stands up as relevant to kids.

REMEMBER, our question today is: What’s their legacy in YOUR life?
We want to hear from you at [email protected]


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