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

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Jan 14, 2015, 1:33 PM EST

In a career that spanned nearly five decades, Robert Kinoshita worked as a set designer, art director, production designer and producer on numerous film and television projects, but he's most famous today as the designer of both the B9 robot on the classic '60s TV series Lost in Space and Robby the Robot from the epic science fiction film Forbidden Planet, both of which remained classic robot designs long after movie robots had moved on to very different looks. 

Born in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 1914, Kinoshita quickly became interested in the movies and was working on films as early as 1937. His career was interrupted during World War II, when he and his wife Lillian were sent to an internment camp in Arizona. A sponsor was able to get the Kinoshitas out of the camp before the end of the war, but rather than return to Hollywood, they opted to move to Wisconsin, where Robert worked as an industrial designer.

By the early 1950s, though, he was back in California just in time to work on Forbidden Planet. Kinoshita helped design several sets for the film, including Dr. Morbius' lab, but today he's most famous as the man credited with Robby the Robot. Working from several different designs generated by MGM's art department, Kinoshita produced a model of Robby that was then approved for full-sized construction, and the dome-headed robot is still famous today even among fans who've never seen Forbidden Planet

In the mid-'60s, Kinoshita was hired as art director for Lost In Space, and was tasked both with revising the design of the show's spacecraft and with designing a new robot to add to the show's cast. The character he eventually came up with -- which, like Robby, featured a clear plastic head -- was never given a real name, but was known on the show as Robot, and became so popular among fans that he got as much fan mail as the show's human characters. A club of fans eventually formed to create more than 100 replicas of Robot.

Kinoshita continued working in film until the mid-1980s, and his credits include The Phantom PlanetProject U.F.OScience Fiction TheatreSea Hunt and Bat Masterson. He is survived by his daughter, Pat.

(Via THR)