Robert Kinoshita, robot designer for ‘Forbidden Planet’ and ‘Lost in Space,’ dies at 100

Kinoshita with a fan-built replica of the Lost in Space robot in 2004.

Kinoshita with a fan-built replica of the Lost in Space robot in 2004

The Hollywood Reporter:

Robert Kinoshita, a production designer and art director who designed the iconic robots for the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and the 1960s TV series Lost in Space, has died. He was 100.

Kinoshita died Dec. 9 at a nursing care facility in Torrance, Calif., family friend Mike Clark told The Hollywood Reporter.
For Robby the Robot on Forbidden Planet, Kinoshita cobbled together several concepts contributed by MGM’s art and special effects departments, and made a miniature prototype of wood and plastic. The model, with a domed head of clear plastic, was quickly approved, and Kinoshita completed its construction. The film received an Oscar nomination for special effects.
Kinoshita was in the work pool of 20th Century Fox’s art department in the mid-1960s when producer Irwin Allen selected him to become the first-season art director for Lost in Space, which aired for three seasons on CBS from 1965-68.
Kinoshita’s bubble-brained Robot — a late addition to the cast whose famous line was “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!” — featured a metallic barrel chest, light-up voice panel and rubberized legs. Kinoshita rushed to deliver the complicated costume shortly before the show entered production. (Dick Tufeld provided the voice.)
The Robot received as much fan mail as its the human cast, and a nationwide organization of fans, The B9 Robot Builders, has built more 100 full-size Robot replicas.
For the series, Kinoshita also modified the Robinson family’s spacecraft, designed for the pilot by Bill Creber, to include a lower deck with living quarters, dining room, lab and Robot dock. He stretched the production budget by creatively raiding props and discards from the Fox backlot.
Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1914, Kinoshita grew up in the Boyle Heights area. He attended Maryknoll Japanese Catholic School, Roosevelt High School and USC’s School of Architecture, and became interested in the movies, receiving his first practical experience on the 1937 film 100 Men and a Girl.
He and his wife, Lillian, were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II, but a sponsor allowed the couple to leave before war’s end and move to Wisconsin, where he became proficient in industrial design and fabricating products out of plastic.
Kinoshita came back to California in the early 1950s and returned to the movie industry just as MGM was gearing up for production of Forbidden Planet. In addition to Robby, Kinoshita designed several sets including the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon).
Also in the 1950s, he also created the robot Tobor from Here Comes Tobor (1957) and worked for ZIV Television on such series as Science Fiction Theater, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson and Men Into Space.
Later, he served as associate producer and production designer on the independent films The Phantom Planet (1961) and Hell’s Bloody Devils (1970) and was a free-lancer on such series as Hawaii-5-0, Barnaby Jones and Gene Roddenberry‘s pilot Planet Earth.
Kinoshita claimed his longevity was due to clean living and daily doses of apple cider vinegar, Clark said. He is survived by a daughter, Pat.
A private service was held on Dec. 23 at Green Hills Mortuary in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Robert Kinoshita, creator of Hollywood robots, dies at 100

Angry Asian Man:

Robert Kinoshita, an artist, art director and production designer who was best known for designing some of the most iconic robots from Hollywood film and television, has died. He was 100.

Kinoshita served as production designer on a number of films and TV shows, and is responsible for creating Robby the Robot for the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet, as well as the robot Tobor from the 1954 film Tobor the Great and the 1957 television pilot Here Comes Tobor.

He was also the first-season art director for the TV show Lost in Space, for which he created one of the show’s most popular characters — the robot, best remembered for the line “Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!

Before finding a career in the backstages of Hollywood, Kinoshita and his wife Lillian were among the thousands of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated in camps during World War II.

Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1914, Kinoshita grew up in the Boyle Heights area. He attended Maryknoll Japanese Catholic School, Roosevelt High School and USC’s School of Architecture, and became interested in the movies, receiving his first practical experience on the 1937 film 100 Men and a Girl.

He and his wife, Lillian, were sent to a Japanese internment camp in Arizona during World War II, but a sponsor allowed the couple to leave before war’s end and move to Wisconsin, where he became proficient in industrial design and fabricating products out of plastic.

Kinoshita came back to California in the early 1950s and returned to the movie industry just as MGM was gearing up for production of Forbidden Planet. In addition to Robby, Kinoshita designed several sets including the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon).

Also in the 1950s, he also created the robot Tobor from Here Comes Tobor (1957) and worked for ZIV Television on such series as Science Fiction Theater, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson and Men Into Space.

According to a family friend, Kinoshita died December 9 at an assisted living center in Torrance, California.

Rest in peace.