Robert Kinoshita, who designed three of the most famous robots in science fiction, died December 9 at the age of 100.
He was the principal designer for the robot in Tobor the Great (1954); Robby the Robot from the films Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Invisible Boy (1957); and the “B9 Environmental Control” robot from the 1960s TV series Lost in Space (privately nicknamed “Blinky.”)
Robby and Blinky even appeared together in two episodes of Lost in Space, “War of the Robots” and “Condemned of Space.”
(Robby also appeared in a 1958 episode of The Gale Storm Show and a 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone.)
Kinoshita gave an interview to the B9 Robot Builders Club about his creation for Lost in Space, which he said was initially conceived without an operator because “at any moment it could stop or trip wherever and inside there is all kinds of stuff that he could get hurt on. There was a yellow cord running up the back of the Robot that held 2,000 volts.” However, they decided having someone inside would help give the robot personality (Bob May got the job) – manipulating the plexiglass head, turning the body, moving the arms, etc.
Kinoshita made other artistic contributions to these productions, designing the lab of Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) in Forbidden Planet and the final version of the Jupiter 2 spaceship for Lost in Space.
He was a free-lancer on Gene Roddenberry’s pilot Planet Earth . His non-sf credits include TV shows Highway Patrol (1955–1959), Bat Masterson (1960–1961), Hawaii Five-O (1970–1971), and Kojak (1973–1974).
[Thanks to Mark R. Kelly and John King Tarpinian for the story.]