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RIP'n FOR
ROBERT KINOSHITA
Feo Amante January 13, 2015 Report
E.C.McMullen Jr.

Forbidden PlanetRIP'n FOR ROBERT KINOSHITA
Artist & Art Director Robert Kinoshita, died December 9, 2014, in Torrance, California. I'm amazed it took the press this long to report it.

Robert created the Robby the Robot design for FORBIDDEN PLANET and for years after, was the goto guy for robots.

Born in Los Angeles, California in 1914, Robert grew up to study Architecture at the University of Southern California (USC).

Unfortunately, young Robert was a troubled Asian man, and soon ran afoul of U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066 - a law against being Japanese or even having a Japanese heritage.

Found guilty of being born of Japanese ancestors, Robert had all of his possessions confiscated by the U.S. government and was forced into a government concentration camp with others of his race.

After World War II, Robert and his wife moved to Wisconsin, where Robert worked as an industrial designer. But around 1954 Robert returned to California and went to work for Republic Pictures. There he designed Tobor (Robot spelled backwards) for the hit TV series, Captain Video. Tobor was so popular that the empty suit went on to star in Republic Pictures feature film, TOBOR THE GREAT. This movie, about a boy and his giant outerspace robot, would go on to become the inspiration for THE IRON GIANT.

The Invisible Boy

In 1955, Robert went to work at MGM and created the scene stealing Robby the Robot for FORBIDDEN PLANET (actor in the Robby suit was Frankie Darrow. Voiced by Marvin Miller [THE INVISIBLE BOY, GREMLINS]).

The Robby design so wowed the producers and the studio that they ponied up the $125,000 it took to make it. That's over $1,100,000 in 2014 dollars.

While the robot was the centerpiece of the movie's promotion, marketing, and is the main feature of the movie poster, Kinoshita was left uncredited.

His Robby the Robot creation, with slight variations, soon appeared in other movies including MGM's THE INVISIBLE BOY and as a toy in INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN. Again, Kinoshita, having been convicted of being Japanese by ancestry, was never credited. Even decades later, Robby continued to show up in movie cameos: GREMLINS, EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY, and Looney Tunes: Back In Action.

Still, the Robby character was so popular that word got out. Robby son appeared in an episode of the original THE TWILIGHT ZONE (two episodes) and the original THE ADDAMS FAMILY. Over two decades after Robert's original creation, his Robby would appear in TV shows like, ARK II (1976), Space Academy (1977), Project U.F.O. (1978), Wonder Woman (1979), and Mork & Mindy (1979).

When producer Irwin Allen prepared his TV series, Lost In Space, he brought Robert on to create a Robby the Robot type. The minor modifications became the show's star, Robot. There are three episodes where the Lost In Space Robot battles the FORBIDDEN PLANET robot.

While the largest body of Kinoshita's work was as Set Designer on TV shitkickers like Tombstone Territory and Bat Masterson, it is his work on Science Fiction Thrillers (including the short run television series, Science Fiction Theater) that endures.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Kinoshita's Robby is that the design played other characters. Whenever a creature design like Frankenstein or C-3PO has a cameo or minor part in another TV show or movie, they remain the same character. Kinoshita's Robby design played a wide variety of characters, both hero and villain.

Nearly 50 years after Robert's Robby's original appearance, the 'bot was in an episode of the 2005 TV show, Stacked.

When it comes to enduring special effects character creation, Kinoshita's Robby has never been topped.

Robert Kinoshita (FORBIDDEN PLANET, THE PHAROAH'S CURSE, MACABRE, THE SAGA OF THE VIKING WOMEN AND THEIR VOYAGE TO THE WATERS OF THE GREAT SEA SERPENT, THE INVISIBLE BOY, HERE COMES TOBOR, THE PHANTOM PLANET) was 100 years old.

Gremlins
HOYT AXTON MAKES ROBBY WAIT FOR AN IMPORTANT PHONE CALL
Joe Dante and Chris Columbus' GREMLINS.
Copyright 1984, Warner Bros.

More on Robert Kinoshita (UPDATES)

Robert Kinoshita, designer of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot, dies at 100

Robert Kinoshita dies at 100; designer of famed film robots

Robert Kinoshita, Designer of 'Lost in Space' Robot, Dies at 100

More on Robert Kinoshita's Robby the Robot.

William Malone

Robot Hall of Fame

End Skull
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Researcher David Waldron, references my review of UNDERWORLD in the Spring 2005, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture entry, Role-Playing Games and the Christian Right: Community Formation in Response to a Moral Panic (downloadable pdf).

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