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

Robert Kinoshita LOST IN SPACEA piece of my past dies, reminding me of my age, vulnerability and mortality.


by Mike Barnes

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.

Robby The RobotInformation on Robby the Robot can be found here.

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.)
Lost In Space RobotThe 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.

Bob MayBob May portrayed the robot on Lost In Space.  Very few people recognize this.

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).

God bless you sir, and your work and your creativity.  This is me trying to acknowledge, as much as I can, your labors to the world.


Robert Kinoshita

Jaws is dead; long live Jaws

richard-kiel-as-jawsRichard Kiel, the 7’2″ actor who played the villain “Jaws” in two of the James Bond movies with Roger Moore in the late 70s, passed away in a Fresno, Fornicalia hospital this week.  He was 74 years old.

Twilight Zone - To Serve ManI particularly remember Kiel from the 1962 Twilight Zone episode entitled “To Serve Man.”  For those unfamiliar with the story, I won’t provide a full spoiler — with the exception of three small words: “it’s a cookbook.”

Richard Kiel As Jaws With Roger MooreI could never forget the scene where Kiel places his hand on Roger Moore’s face, looking like nothing more than a grapefruit in his huge mitt.

Michael_Dunn_Richard_Kiel_Wild_Wild_WestKiel also played the character Voltaire, the assistant of Dr Miguelito Loveless (actor Michael Dunn) in the series The Wild, Wild West in 1965.

Mr Kiel had broken his leg the week prior to entering the Fresno hospital.

Requiescat en pace, Mr Kiel.



Dr Keith Ablow: depression is the Grand Imposter

Robin Williams wasn’t God, he wasn’t imperial, he wasn’t a dictator, a ruler, an evil man, a politician — or even an “important man.”  Except that he was.

He possessed one quality that so few of us have: the ability to make us laugh and, simultaneously, to make us examine ourselves.  His was one of the absolute quickest wits on the planet, meeting and surpassing his mentor, Jonathan Winters — who was also disturbed:

I watched Jonathan Winters on his own and other numerous television shows.  He was in fact a comic genius and also challenged mentally, spending eight months in a mental hospital in 1959 and again in 1961.  He was diagnosed as bipolar.

On Monday, August 11th, Robin Williams took his own life in his oceanside home in Tiburon, Fornicalia, by hanging.  Asphyxia.

Dr Ablow said:

Robin Williams, a comic genius and one of the great storytellers of our time, apparently chose to end his life because he could not see the next chapter of his own story as containing anything other than unbearable psychological pain.  

Such is the power of depression – an affliction which is almost unimaginable to those who have not suffered with it — to twist the truth into something unrecognizable. For the truth is that there were many new and wonderful pages awaiting Robin Williams; he just couldn’t imagine them. He couldn’t believe the darkness would ever end.

Dr Ablow has stated this perfectly.  And with truth that so cuts to the story.  The real story.

Depression is the grand imposter — posing as all powerful.  It can be defeated, every time, if you or the person you care about confronts it like the grand imposter that it is.

Depression is always, to an extent, a psychotic illness. It steals reality — which is, in large measure, defined by the completely justifiable hope in tomorrow’s possibilities — and replaces it with a world in which one doubts his or her abilities, discounts to zero his or her past successes, doubts love, doubts friendship and doubts God.

In its worst forms, it is much more than profound sadness; it is the conviction that nothing good will ever occur, sometimes coupled with horrific and constant anxiety that something unspeakably terrible is about to happen–in a minute, or this very night, or tomorrow.   

I can tell you that I have been where Robin Williams was then.

I was there when I encountered my divorce.  I can clearly remember sitting on my sloped concrete driveway in the Greenhaven Pocket area, at night, wondering why I was kicked out of my own house — sitting in front of it — why my wife no longer loved me, why my life was completely collapsing around me.  I simply lacked the capability to understand.  It was summer.  My tears hit the concrete and then dried in an instant, as though they had never even happened.  My tears were like my life, then.  I concluded this.

As though the past seven years had never occurred.

I went to work, in Patrol, and didn’t wear my vest.  My beat partner noticed this and my supervisor noticed this.  I didn’t care.  If I got shot I got shot and I couldn’t have cared less.

But they cared.  They took me aside and spoke to me individually.  Not like supervisors or cops but man-to-man.  Like peers.  I will never forget them or their efforts.

In 1987 and 1988, they kept me alive.

I was looking at the Short Game.  They were looking at the Long Game.

This is an incredible paragraph, and a telling one from Dr Ablow:

I utterly refuse to give up and will deploy any and every tool at my disposal to win, because I know that every, single case of major depression is a puzzle that can potentially be solved.  Every one of them.  No exception.  Period.

I lived.  I survived.  Many a trauma and many more future difficulties.  Things that, in retrospect, would have felled lesser mortals.  I’ve been a cop for 41+ years.  And have been involved in any number of critical incidents to include the taking of a life.

I am proud of that.  Of my survival.  Despite the odds.

And I am here today — to be proud of that — because I did not act on my darkest of days.



Robin Williams is dead at age 63, by his own hand.

Robin Williams DangerRobin Williams is dead at the age of 63?

Of an apparent suicide?

Williams’ publicist Mara Buxbaum told The Hollywood Reporter that Williams “has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

I’m sorry.  This will take a while to process.

Go here.

Mork and MindyAnd where I first discovered Robin Williams, above.

Is comedy dead?

Is improv dead?

Is brilliance in improv comedy dead?

Long live Robin Williams, the true master of the comedic.

There was no one faster in comedy than Robin Williams.  Absolutely no one.

And I think to myself: the world is completely diminished by his loss. 

Robin, please — we need more laughter these days, not less.


Robin Williams Lasrt PhotoLast photo of Robin Williams.



Sid Caesar, creator of “Your Show of Shows,” dead at 91

Sid CaesarSid Caesar, 1922 to 2014


by Roger Friedman

Sid Caesar has died in Los Angeles at age 91. The creator of “Your Show of Shows” had been in fragile health for some time. If you don’t know his name ( and I’m sure you do) , Sid Caesar is where all contemporary comedy began. He launched Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Woody Allen with “Your Show of Shows.” There was even a movie made about him, sort of– “My Favorite Year,” written by one of his other disciples, Norman Steinberg. With Imogene Coca, Sid Caesar created an unparalleled legacy. In recent times, Brooks, Reiner and friends like Lainie Kazan, Renee Taylor and Joe Bologna had been going to Caesar’s house on Sundays to entertain him as he convalesced.

You can’t get more concise than this:

You certainly did, sir.