Robert Kinoshita (1914-2014)

Robert Kinoshita was born in Los Angeles, California in 1914. His architecture and design degree in from the University of Southern California prepared him well for his future career in film. Some sources claim the first film he worked on was One Hundred Men and a Girl in 1937, but his earliest confirmed work in the motion picture industry wasn’t until 1954 when he designed the robot costume for Tobor the Great (not relation to the robot of the same name from the Captain Video and His Video Rangers series). I suspect the delay was due to his having spent time in an Arizona interment camp with his wife, including the journey back and other issues surrounding the release of Japanese Americans from the camps in 1945. Getting back to the subject of his film career, 1955 saw him working in the art department for the television series Luke and the Tenderfoot and as an art director for Science Fiction Theatre. He would work in similar positions far a wide variety of films and television shows. His involvement in Forbidden Planet led to one of the most iconic characters in science fiction: Robby the Robot. Part of the robot’s design was based on his design for tubs used in washing machines! The character was so popular that not only did he appear the the film The Invisible Boy, but the costume has been reused in many films, TV shows and commercials over numerous decades. You can even still find toy robots inspired by Robby in stores!

Kinoshita also designed the Jupiter 2 and the B9 robot for Lost in Space (two episodes saw Robby making guest appearances). This robot, which Kinoshita nicknamed “Blinky,” was later reused in the series Mystery Island. He later visited his Tobor creation in the Here Comes Tobor pilot in 1957. That year also saw him working on films like The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent and Pharaoh’s Curse. 1961 saw him acting as an associate producer on the film The Phantom Planet. He officially exited the film industry in 1984, but would still appear in documentaries from time to time. He was also very open to meeting with fans, as demonstrated inn the following videos from famousbots and Thomas R:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqY8osyzwNE

I think it’s safe to say the only thing as impressive as Mr. Kinoshira’s legacy is how he lived until the ripe old age of 100!

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