Davey and Goliath. (That's Davey on the right.)


Medium: Clay animation
Produced by: Clokey Productions, Inc.
First Appeared: 1960
Creators: Nancy Moore and Art Clokey
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Practically everybody from the Baby Boom on up remembers Davey & Goliath. Some remember it as a sappy, preachy thing that they never once sat all the way through, and …

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… others remember it as something sweet and gentle, and full of useful advice for young people — but practically everybody remembers it.

The show got its start back in the early years of kid-specific television programming, when Franklin Clark Fry, president of the United Lutheran Church in America, set aside funds to provide wholesome entertainment for that audience. Children's writer Nancy Moore was hired to provide scripts, and Clokey Productions, run by Art Clokey, creator of Gumby, was commissioned to bring them to life. The first episode hit the airwaves in 1960.

Davey Hansen was a pretty ordinary kid, perhaps 8-10 years old. Liked sports, had a good imagination, didn't much care for school, and he was prey to the usual fallibilities and temptations of boys his age — and of course, meeting temptation and either resisting it or dealing with the consequences was the driving force behind much of the action. This put him in company with Little Jimmy, Doug and a thousand toons in-between, but with Davey, viewers were often more aware of the lesson behind the story than might have been ideal.

Goliath was Davey's dog. In the tradition of Buster Brown's Tige, Barnaby's Gorgon and, in more recent years, Hobbes, Goliath could talk — but only to Davey. Goliath served as Davey's conscience, and did a much better job of it than Jiminy Cricket ever did for Pinocchio. When Goliath, in doubtful tone, said, "I don't know, Davey" — it was usually a good idea for Davey to listen.

Davey's voice was originally provided by Dick Beals, also the voice of Ralph Phillips, a couple of Roger Ramjet's sidekicks, and Birdboy on Birdman & the Galaxy Trio. In 1965, Beals was replaced by Norma MacMillan, whose other credits include Casper the Friendly Ghost, Kokette (from Koko the Clown's mercifully-brief TV series) and Underdog's girlfriend, Sweet Polly Purebread. Goliath was Hal Smith, who played Elmer Fudd in several cartoons after Arthur Q. Bryan's death, and was later the voice of Gyro Gearloose on DuckTales.

Initially, the church commissioned thirty 15-minute episodes, which were produced between 1960 and '62 and distributed free to almost 200 U.S. markets. In 1965, Christmas Lost & Found, the first of six half-hour specials, was aired. Between 1969 and '71, another 35 regular shows were added to the mix. They've been translated into seven languages, including Cantonese — and like so many animated series, have been shown and re-shown over and over for years and years.

Even today, the Davey & Goliath property is a viable one. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, which now holds title to the characters, markets a variety of Davey & Goliath merchandise, and in 2002, the pair started turning up in soft drink commercials. The proceeds will be used to fund new production, to add to the existing 65 episodes and six specials.

Quite likely, then, they'll be familiar characters to generations yet unborn.


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Text ©2002-07 Donald D. Markstein. Art © Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.