Robby the Robot - Glass-domed robot featured in a
variety of motion pictures and TV series from the 1950s through the 1980s.
Robby the Robot
Robby the Robot debuted in the classic sci-fi film Forbidden Planet
(1956) as a bulbous mechanical man (reminiscent of the Michelin Man) constructed
by Earth scientist/linguist Dr. Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) while exploring the
desolate architectural remains of Planet Altair IV in the year A.D. 2200.
Designed from the storehouse of knowledge left by the Krels, a race long dead,
Robby (fueled by Isotope 217) was a servant unit capable of speaking multiple
languages ("If you do not speak English, I am at your disposal with 187 other
languages along with their various dialects and subtongues."), lifting
tremendous weights, synthesizing anything from gems to rot-gut bourbon, and
performing domestic duties such as cooking and cleaning.
Primary in all his
programming, Robby was instructed never to harm a human being, especially, Altaira (Anne Francis) Morbius' daughter.
At the film's conclusion Robby flew to
Earth with Altaira and the crew of the flying saucer C57D after Dr. Morbius was
killed by an energy monster.
In reality, Robby the Robot was an elaborate metal shell (weighing 100 pounds
and costing $125,000) built by Japanese designer/engineer Bob Kinoshita who also
created the film's spaceship and the Krel's subterranean machinery. Some 2,600
feet of electrical wiring supplied the energy to all the spinning gadgets
contained in Robby's egg-shaped glass dome.
Robby's human characteristics were
supplied by a human operator (Frankie Darro) housed inside the robot's body who
moved the arms and legs. Actor Marvin Miller provided Robby's deep male voice.
Robby's second movie The Invisible Boy (1957) cast Robby as the robot creation
of Dr. Merrinoe (Philip Abbott) who befriended the scientist's son. The plot
thickened when aliens from outer space took control of a super computer. Robby's
human-like programming, however, resisted the aliens and helped thwart their
From the 960s through the 1980s, Robby the Robot guest starred on a variety of TV series. They
Robby made cameos in the movies Hollywood Boulevard (1976), Likely Stories
(1981), Gremlins (1984), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), and Looney Tunes, Back in
- On the 1964 episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE entitled "The Brain Center At Whipples"
Robby played a robot who displaced a human worker (Richard Deacon).
- On the ADDAMS FAMILY episode "Lurch's Little Helper," eccentric millionaire
Gomez Addams (John Astin) built a robot (Robby) to help his zombie Butler (Ted
Cassidy) with the house work.
- The sci-fi series LOST IN SPACE featured Robby in two episodes: "War of
the Robots" and "The Condemned of Space" as a guard at a computerized
- GILLIGAN'S ISLAND used Robby as a government test robot which accidentally
landed (via parachute) on their uncharted island.
- In the "Mind Over Mayhem" episode of COLUMBO, Robby was a scientist's
- On MORK & MINDY Robby played Chuck the Robot (voice of Roddy
McDowell), an aging museum exhibit scheduled for the scrap heap which Mork
accidentally gave human emotions.
At last report, Robby the Robot was on display at the Planes and Cars of the
Stars Museum in Buena Vista, California.
TRIVIA NOTE: Isaac Asimov's 1950 story I, Robot featured a robot named Robby.
And, the sci-fi puppet program FIREBALL XL-5/SYN/1961 featured
the Robot, a twenty-two inch transparent robot (voice of
Gerry Anderson) who was the automatic pilot for the XL-5 spacecraft. When
confronted with a stressful situation, Robert's circuits heated up and began to
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