Wed August 27, 2014
THE RUMPH Home » Jim Rumph Bio
Jim Rumph Bio
The biography of Jim Rumph is as mysterious as his creations. Very little is known about Rumph. What I do know is that James Calhoun Rumph was born on August 17, 1942 in Missouri. He worked with Ceramarte of Brazil, Image Products® and California Originals® while making some of his creations. He died in Los Angeles, California on September 1, 1993 after being struck by a moving vehicle as he was walking his bike across the street. He was 51.
Jim did business On Vermont Ave. in Torrance Ca. He also did business in Santa Monica as "Mind Circus." Over 300 known pieces of Rumph work are out there somewhere, Ranging in value from $20.00 to over $5000.00 Most of his pieces are marked but many weren't. So even unmarked "Rumph" are getting Valuable.
Added by Rumphnut from Kansas City on 02/08/2003
Jim's wife was Darryl Ann.
He was in a coma for 5 days after he was hit by the car but never regained consciousness. His memorial service was an all-day celebration of his life and was filled with music and laughter.
Jim laughed very easily and with abandon. He had no sense of time and frequently called his friends at 3 am to say hello, never noticing if he woke them up. I don't think Jim ever slept.
His studio, The Slyme Factory, was on 18th St. in Santa Monica, just north of Olympic Blvd. He sold a lot of his work in the early days ('70s) at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and through my bookstore, A Change of Hobbit.
Added by Sherry Gottlieb from Southern California on 02/08/2003
Don't take this as gospel, but... Jim signed Rumph to anything he did personally, and the stuff he "mass produced" in his studio was marked Slyme Factory or Mind Circus. But he also contracted with some other companies to produce his work commercially (a relationship which frequently ended up with Jim getting shafted); I don't think he signed all the molds/masters he gave to them. So while commercial productions might be from Jim's designs, they weren't actually his creation, so they weren't signed.
Added by Sherry Gottlieb from Southern California on 02/09/2003
Jim claimed that plants grown in Rumph planters always grew a little strangely. For many years, I had an ivy plant in the skull planter; the ivy grew straight up, instead of meandering off as ivy usually does. The bromeliad in my gremlin mug has been there for many years; this year, for the first time, it's putting out a flower.
Added by Sherry Gottlieb from Southern California on 02/16/2003
THAT'S JIM ALLRIGHT IN THE PICTURE. HE AND DARREL ANN LIVED IN THE 70'S AT THE FOOT OF TOPANGA CANYON IN THESE GREAT SIMPLISTIC BEACH SINGLE WALL COTTAGES THAT WERE BUILT BY THE LOS ANGELES ATHLETIC CLUB IN THE 1920'S. THE HOUSES WERE ON LEASE LAND SO A PERSON JUST BOUGHT THE HOUSE AND NOT THE LAND. IT WAS A GREAT SPOT ACROSS FROM THE GREAT SURF. THE BREAK'S AT TOPANGA BEACH WHEN THE SOUTH SWELLS COME IN. CHARLIE MANSON ONCE TRIED TO PUSH HIS WAY INTO JIM'S HOUSE. DARREL ANN WAS A GREAT ARTIST HERSELF AND SOME OF HER WORKS I AM SURE ARE AROUND. SHE MADE THE COOLEST HAND MADE ENAMELED JEWERLY. JIM DID A LOT OF ENAMEL DESIGNS FOR ME DURING THAT PEROID. ALL FOR NOW. RUMPH!!!!!!!!!!!!
Added by BILL TROPP from LAGUNA BEACH CAL. on 03/16/2003
Yep. that's Jim in the snapshot! "Zany" is just one of the words I use when describing him, but "RUMPH!" best characterizes him. I have a number of his fantastic creations, and each is very special to me. Jim and Darryl-Ann visited often, as I visited his Slyme Factory in Santa Monica. Jim's navel collection was second to none, and his infectious laughter will resound in my heart forever, as his rare and unique creations will survive all ravages of the Ages and remind generations to come of the mind circus he so magnificently exemplified.
Added by Verne Langdon from Montecito-by-the-Sea, California on 03/19/2003
I have known Jim since I was 7 years old. Life in the 60's was pretty crazy. I was living the life in Malibu, CA, and Jim was back living with his parents after graduating college at the University of Redlands and the LA School of Art.
Jim was a wonderful guy, very caring, but never fit the mold that America is. He danced to a different drummer. He met a girl in college that he loved very much, but she could not understand that this guy was an artist with incredible imagination. He later met Daryal Ann who accepted him for what he was. Jim could laugh with you while saying the whole world is f*cked. His youth was as normal as rain, with very loving and supportive parents. He had a chance to work for Disney, but rejected it as too repetitive and boring.
He was a dear friend, and I miss him a lot.
Added by ROBERT BAKER from CHANDLER AZ on 05/10/2003
I knew Jim, not well, through the early Renaissance Pleasure Faire, where I purchased several of his pieces. He was one of those rare individuals who think "outside the box," decried conventional values and beat his own drum.
Added by Henry Miller from Los Angeles on 05/16/2003
I met Jim around 1975, through a makeup artist named Steve Neill (his ex-wife Ve would eventually become an Oscar winning makeup artist in her own right) - I was 15 and Jim's Slyme Factory was on 18th street at the time. The first planter of his I saw was in Sherry Gottleib's Change of Hobbit on Westwood (where she would begrudnginly let me play with the myriad hobby kits along the top bookshelves).
For a few years, Jim had a regular booth at the old Renaissance Faire in Agoura. Jim, Darryl Ann and her sister used to work it every weekend and I frequently schlepped out with him in his orange van, to help hawk his wares. For a brief moment, Jim opened a store on Broadway where, I believe, Tower Records now is, called Rumph's Muses (Sherry G was there, along with many others). Like most of Jim's business ventures, it went belly up. I used to spend hours at the old Slyme Factory - You walked through the large sliding corrugated door and to the right was his office, adorned with, among other things the Maxfield Parrish Humpty Dumpty poster and N.C. Wyeth's "The Giant" - as well a tribute drawing from Bill Stout and a framed note of thanks from Jim's hero - Frank Frazetta. Against the one large wall I remember an illustration from the Melies "First Men to the Moon" - large wooden benches were in the center, caked as was everything else) with clay dust. Planters lined the walls. There were three main ones he mass produced: Zunil, the maiden, Zolthar, the wizard and Belial, the demon. I followed him to the new Slyme Factory location - which I believe was just off of Sepulveda - but I could be wrong about that. For a young man who thrived on Tolkein, Narnia and Bradbury, the place was a fantasy world come true. Jim was infectiously funny, with a crazed, deep laugh that could rise into a hysterical crescendo.
Like my friend Ron Magid, I bought many Rumph pieces, but alas, upon moving from my family home, my boxes of Rumph artifacts, many of them originals, were found by the new owners of our home and thinking they were some kind of black magic devilishness, tossed unceremoniously.
I still have a few pieces left, though. Jim's alter ego was Dr. Rumph, a black haired, moustachioed trickster with a hook for one hand and an evil glint in his eye (and in a famous photo, a mermaid on his lap - played by his then wife Darryl)
I lost touch with Jim around 1979 or so, never connecting with him when I got older. I was sorry to hear he had fallen on hard times, but at the recent Comicon, Bill Stout, to whom I introduced myself, told me that Jim's death was an accident and that he had cleaned himself up.
He remains in my mind and heart, an eternal joker, like the humpbacked jester he created as the mascot for Mind Circus, he was and is, a true original.
Added by Gregg Ostrin from Pasadena, Ca. on 10/22/2003
A little more bio:
Jim was actually born James Kelsey Calhoun. His father, Alan Duncan Calhoun (1907-1942), died when James was only 3 months old. James' mother, Patricia Rassieur Kelsey, later remarried Mr. Rumph (sorry, don't know his first name) and became Patricia Rassieur Kelsey Calhoun Rumph. Jim took on the Rumph last name and has signed things James Kelsey Calhoun Rumph.
His wife, Daryle Ann (Smith) Rumph, preceded him in death and lived from 1945-1991. His mother died in L.A. County CA, in 2000, at 87.
Jim's brother Bob Rumph is alive and well.
Added by Paul (Rumph Guide) De Belling from Southern California on 01/11/2004
Jim Rumph lived on Alma Real Drive, in Pacific Palisades. We grew up together. While at Uni High, Jim took a correspondance cartooning course and later, the two of us were competing to do the artwork for the Class of 1960 University High Annual Yearbook. Jim beat me out with those cartoons! If anyone has the Uni High Annual from 1960, it is full of Rumphie's work. He was also a wonderful painter, as well as sculpturer, and did a beautiful oil painting of Darrel Ann glowing in the woods, that used to hang in his house at the 'Snake Pit', across from Topanga Beach. Used to have a great photo of Jim on the Pit road in front in his truck, I wonder where that is. We painted his ET pieces together at the Slyme Factory, when he was on overload and running behind. I have some photos at the pictures at the Slyme Factory , but Rumphie TOOK the pictures, and was not in them. Too bad. Just wanted to post a couple of thoughts and say that I am glad this site is here.
Hi DS, SP, JOK, AC, and anyone else who stops by.
Added by Judi from Pacific Palisades, CA on 04/10/2004
I first met Jim Rumph, after moving into the studios at 1655 18th st. in Santa Monica. Upon moving in one day, his surely dog/mutt Magic ran up the driveway and bit me on the hip for no apparent reason. Our first meeting was my confronting Jim with this. He merely shrugged it off with disbelief. Little at the time did I realize, I had come face to face with James C. Rumph, Captain of the starship "Slyme Factory". How could I have begun to imagine the 5 year voyage I was about to undertake with this fellow into a whole new frontier of rare and unconventional experience.
I quickly befriended Jim, our initial common interest focusing on the art of Frank Frazetta, whom we both admired. A debt I owe Jim, is his bringing me to dinner to meet Frank and his family when he was living in Valencia Ca. while working on the "Fire and Ice" movie. (Jim made it a point to track down his Icons. Ray Bradberry visited the Slyme factory with a bottle of wine for Jim. He met with Giger, "The Alien" designer, at his hotel room when Alien first came out. He'd spent a week with the Frazettas at there home in Pennsylvania.)
In 1977 when Rent became too high on 18th st. Jim, Myself (a custom furniture maker), Sissy Mcdonald (a ceramasist), and Bettina Ling (fabric artist) found a Building at 2222 S Sepulveda Blvd. We rented this as our new studios. Jim, Sissy, and myself lived in separate apartments in the buildings. The next five years were a wild ride of many adventures, and a very creative time for Jim.
It was during this period that Jim had the Slyme factory going full tilt, with himself at the helm. He'd often be inspired by a new movie like Star Wars, Superman or Star Trek. He'd go nuts and stay up all night ferociously sculpting the characters that inspired him. It'd be a great treat to see what he'd come up with the next day. It was always about Art, People, (the stranger the better) and laughter. He celebrated life like a wild man.
Jim's Passion for life was huge, and infected others. His was a light that attracted all who rejoiced in the bizarre. I'm glad to see his work live on, but unfortunately we've lost his greatest piece, which was Jim, himself.
Added by Mark Daley from San Jose, Ca. on 06/14/2004
WOW! I'm not quite sure where to start. I met Jim when he was a mailman and he interacted in my life for the next 27 years...I walked with him on his mail route and he asked me to marry him on a piece of paper and had me sign my name. Well, I later found out he was married and was devastated. Approximately ten years later we met again at the Sun Spot and he said he'd saved that piece of paper and had always hoped he'd find me again. That's when I first went to the Slyme Factory on 18th street and was there when he was making the first Star Wars mugs. He had a clay friend named "Froggy" and was the first person I knew w/ an answering machine. He would leave crazy messages all the time. I thought for sure we'd be together forever and yet as wonderful as he was I knew something was missing. A short time later I found out what that was. A friend at work asked me if I had ever thought about asking Jesus into my life and letting him take over and I said "no". I thought about my life that night and the unknown future and so the next day I asked Jesus to come into my life as my Lord and Savior and help me to follow him. I started sharing the Bible and Jesus with Jim and although he got mad once, he later apologized and had me over to the new Slyme Factory on Olympic and I brought him my pastors sermons on cassette. I later found out from one of his furniture friends (who also wrote in this column) that Jim played the tapes all the time. This went on for years and friends and I would go over there and call, etc. He sent me crazy wild cards about making a green spaghetti dinner, valentines cards, etc. My brother and sisters also joined in the fun as well as my niece. I lost contact with him and came home one day and there was a message from my brother saying that Jim had died. I freaked out of course. His brother had gone into the Hi-de-ho shop where my brother worked and told him about it. He said that I and my brother had meant a lot to Jim so he invited us to the memorial service. That was really difficult. I sat with my siblings and Jim's old friend "Biff" and then went over to a gathering after the service. Jim's brother was there and the cabinet maker...Mark. Anyway, I believe that Jim had asked Jesus into his heart before he died. Also, his brother said that Jim had come out of his coma for approximately 2 days but that he told the nurses he didn't want to talk to anyone. I used to talk to his mother on the phone and she was a nice lady. I, too, am an artist but didn't know I would be when I met Jim when I was 14 years old. I didn't know he was an artist at the time either. I could go on and on but I think I have already gone on long enough. Thank you!!!
Added by Mary Dacey from Sherman Oaks, CA on 03/24/2005
I don't know what compelled me to pick up my Rumph mug off the shelf and type in "Jim Rumph" on Google, but now that I have, I'm very upset to learn that he is gone. In 1971 I was a 24 year old printing press operator at a small "Postal Instant Press" on Wilshire Blvd. in Santa Monica. Jim and his beautiful girlfriend (or wife) came in and had their printing needs done there. He always requested that I to do the work, because I always put special effort into his jobs; I didn't know him, but for some reason I had an inherent affection for the guy. I wanted to be like him. It seemed he had little, but had it all. As a "thank you" for my extra effort, one day he gave me one of his mugs. It's the Orge and Mermaid mug. There is a picture of one in the "Pieces" section. I recall his telling me that all the special symbols on it were there to "tip the mug over" should anyone put poison in it. What a great thing. I'll never part with it. It's amazing how you can miss someone you never knew.
Added by Terry Bunner from Florence, Oregon on 05/21/2005
I haven't seen Jim since 1966 and unfortunately have lost all of the wonderful sketches he used to send me, including those he drew onto envelopes mailed to me without a physical address, rather just an artisitc rendition of where I lived. I'll never know how many letters didn't ever arrive, but several made it to my house. I still have a number of old photos of Jim, all from the 1961-1966 era. I met him as a high school senior and he was at the time a junior in college--at U of Redlands. He was absolutely adorable and was going through a somewhat modified "surfer stage" at the time. I was a landlocked beach-girl myself and while zany, my zaniest never rivaled his! I remember talking him into coming to a high school "surfer stomp" and he was considered the "hottest" guy there!! I have many tales I could share, but won't. I think I wanted him to be a serious boyfriend, but we parted when he sailed away to do his "year abroad.'' We did remain in contact for the next 5 years and became dear friends. My last conversation with him was requesting a painting I had asked him to do for me and for which I had paid a commission in advance. He never did come through with the painting and my life took a different turn and I didn't ever follow up on it. I have always assumed that Jim became a famous artist and was well and happy, but I never knew anything about him after 1966. This is the first time I have ever googled him and I am so very sad to hear that he has passed away. I knew way back then that he would have a lot to contribute. The world has lost a very special person.
Added by Sandy Hundley from Sonoma, California on 11/27/2005
Jim and I knew each other in grammar school in Pacific Palisades. On Saturdays, he and his best friend, Mike Walsh, would cruise by my house and we'd all go riding. I lost track of him in high school, but he was actively pursuing cartooning then. I've read this website and this is not the quiet and shy Jim I knew back then! I had a huge crush on him, but like most boys in the 4th grade, he wasn't interested! Sorry I didn't have a chance to meet him again - in his new incarnation.
Added by Pam Munter from Palm Desert, CA on 06/19/2006
Jim was a student at the University of Redlands in 1962 and 1963. I don't know about other years because those were the only years that I was there. At that time I was a beginning potter and he was an inspiration to me. I transfered to CSU at Long Beach where I continued studying ceramics and I lost touch with him personally, although I and a few friends still sought out his art at places like the Pleasure Faire.
Added by Rick Christie from Desert Hot Springs, CA on 09/25/2006
Jim Rumph College years- I was a freshman at University of Redlands when I met Jim Rumph. He often purchased beer for us and was soo far ahead of his time creatively. He was crazy fun to be with and was also a college cheerleader. When I ran for cheerleader he suggested a great yell and also advised us to have a few beers before performing. Thanks to his advice we won but could never top his original cheer. One of my fondest memories of Rumph was after he and a friend had applied to Disney studios for jobs after college. Rumph got his rejection back first so he created an official looking Disney envelope and created a Disney Letter head featuring Pluto lifting a leg on his friends appplication. Some of his favorite phrases were "far out". What a great journey he had and I am delighted to know so many people appreciated his art and personality.
Added by george Wagner from marin on 09/05/2007
Ah, I met Jim while attending High School at Olympic on 18th Street. I would walk by the Slyme Factory and one day peeked in and was invited by Jim to come in and to look around. He was lovely and I found a friend in him. I would stop by and create while visiting quite often. We continued our friendship and of course I became friends with Mark and Stuart, actually I worked with them while on Sepulveda, we all had many fun times.
I have my belly button cast and a photo he took of me while holding a horned helmet (unfired) on my head. It's a black and white, and he had asked me to put it on for the photo. I think I have a drawing, and some notes but have not looked at those things, must do so. I ran into him many years later at Chez Jay's on Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, he told me of his marriage and divorce, I told him what I was up to. I will always remember his amazing soul, what an amazing man.
Added by Pamela Goodchild from Los Angeles on 10/18/2007
I knew Jim Rumph since 9th grade at Paul Revere and then University High School where I sat next to him in Biology. He had so much artistic talent and would turn a Biology project into one of his artistic creations. I was so jealous of his ability and the cartoons he created. We spent a lot of time together in high school and would play football in the Palisades with many other friends. I kept in touch with him through his movements from Topanga and his art Studio on Santa Monica Blvd and was deeply sadened when I learned from his family of his death. I still miss that great laugh of his.
Added by Richard Stolee from San Francisco on 01/22/2009
I worked at the 18th Street art/design complex from about 1972 - 1989. I believe Jim and Daryl Ann Rumph were there from 72 to maybe 85? The complex was a wonderful community. There was Dr. Atomic, ceramicist Jim Davis (there were ceramics kilns in back), Judith Bronowski, artists Judy Chicago and LLoyd Hamrol and eventually Judy's whole Dinner Party project was created there. There were also film production people,
graphic designers and architects. My late
partner Annette Del Zoppo and I worked upstairs from graphics designers Sussman/Prejza, doing photography and slide presentations. Daryl Ann Rumph was
a friend and frequent visitor to our space
and eventually worked in our space creating her fabulous enameled copper
harlequins, ballerinas, etc. I still have quite a few of these pieces, consider them quite precious, but would
like to sell them to a discriminating collector or museum if anyone knows an
interested and worthy buyer.
18th Street was really a magical community. We were forced to move, but for a great reason: an annonymous
arts patron bought the property and
provided it for the arts organizations that still run it today as the 18th Street Arts Complex.
Added by Jim Simmons from West LA on 05/16/2009
James Kelsey Calhoun/Rumph was born to Alan Duncan Calhoun and Patricia Kelsey. Alan was the son of James Graham Calhoun and Elizabeth May Sligh in Missouri.
Added by Irma Sohnchen from High Point, N.C. on 10/16/2009
I met Jim in Malibu at Positano's in 1966. I was his girlfriend till he decided I liked Jon Jon--and we stayed friends...then he married DarrylAnn, we all became friends. I stayed in touch with Jim until shortly before his death. I still have a few of his hand written letters. I still think about him, miss him, talk to him,that BIG SPIRT of his, that's obviously very much still with us-- I'm so glad therumph.com is here to tell his story, thank you! And oh......it's that laugh-----anyone who knew him will never, ever forget it.
Added by Karla Conway Woodjack...Sachi from Honaunau Hawaii on 11/07/2010
I was a school mate of Jim's at Pacific Palisades Elementary School, and I would like to think a close friend. I re-connected with Jim at his home at the mouth of Topanga Canyon at a Solstice party and he gave me an "injured" medalion of a gargoyle. Today I passed on a dragon pitcher with Jim's signature at a swap meet that was priced at $20. I am an idiot...R.I.P. Jim Rumph.
Added by Guy Webb from Ventura, CA on 11/17/2010
Rumph lived in Malibu in 1965 in a cabin where Coffee House Positano used to be.
Added by Jay Ruby from Mifflntown, PA on 12/17/2010
My cousin Lori/Lara introduced me to Jim at his Mind Circus studio in Santa Monica in the mid 70's. He was quite surprised to find a 18yr old from Cleveland would know about him, on a second visit I produced & gifted him a small gargoyle jar with a rawhide hinged head with his signature, he was shocked to find I got it at J.C.Penney in Cleveland. We became friends as he told stories of being ripped off by investors that took his samples to Mexico for forgeries. I have always been in awe of his incredible creativity & selflessness & hope a bit had rubbed off on me. I still wish him well through a freshly severed Orcs ear of his. I also cherish a signed original large Wookiee mug he gave me and allowed me to chose one from the four originals, even before Mr Lucas got his. Many years later my son bought me a coffee table book of Star Wars collectables and to my surprise their is a picture of the mug with a comment that this is George Lucas's favorite. Miss you Jim!
Added by Ray Stefancin from Waterford MI on 10/29/2011
I first met Jim in 1966 at The Renaissance Pleasure Fair at 20th Century Ranch off Malibu Canyon rd. Outside of L.A. We both had craftman booths there. Thats where the similarities ended. Rumph's booth was a grand display of his original work. It was loud and interactive, crowded with spectators, buyers and neighbors. I've always remembered the fabulous energy and noise of that place. In a prominent spot raised high above the hubbub was an almost life sized naked lady, her grotesque breasts were fitted out with spigots and with much hooting and hollering ,whistle blowing and bell ringing, Jim would pull a rope and from the left breast would come beer and from the right, wine. Every mug,glass and stein was filled after its sale and the crowd loved it. As for me I was a young hippy at the feet of a master, as the star he was, Jim was real, no bullshit, real. He was positive, encouraging and loads of fun. Oh, he was busy, but what a nice man. Thank You Jim.
Added by Malibu John from San Pedro, Ca. on 01/24/2012
Reading the comments, I wanted to add this. Jim's death does not make me sad, he once told me after I had asked him how he did it, just follow your road to where it goes and have a good time getting there. Mostly he did that.
Added by Malibu John from San Pedro, Ca. on 01/24/2012
Happy Birthday Rumph !!! I still miss you even though it's been 20 years. Jim was living with me on 21st and California at the time of his death. He had moved in when the studio off Olympic was changing owners. At any rate, Jim was in intensive care at UCLA for SIX weeks between the time of the accident and his death. Well, I thought I might want to add some information about his life in the 90's, but...maybe some other time. His heydays were definitely the 70's.
Added by Annie Bechtold from Sioux Falls, South Dakota on 08/17/2013
Jim was the "wild and crazy guy" I looked up to at University of Redlands. I was a Freshman pom-pom girl and Jim was a Cheerleader. He awakened the natural "free spirit" nature in myself. I do not know what compelled me this first day of 2014 to type his name in Goggle only to learn that he had passed away 20 years ago. I have never stopped thinking about Jim and our wild adventures. I have always treasured his crazy drawings in my yearbook. And now will look for more on EBay. You live in my heart, my friend. Your zany spirit was far ahead of your time.
We'll meet again...
Added by Belinda "Shigley" Farrell from Santa Cruz, Ca. on 01/01/2014