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Robots, Androids & Cyborgs
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 in FORBIDDEN PLANET
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 the Robot - FORBIDDDEN PLANET

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 invasion.

From the 960s through the 1980s, Robby the Robot guest starred on a variety of TV series. They included:

  • 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 space prison.
  • 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 computerized invention.
  • 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. 
Robby made cameos in the movies Hollywood Boulevard (1976), Likely Stories (1981), Gremlins (1984), Earth Girls Are Easy (1988), and Looney Tunes, Back in Action (2003).

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 Robert 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 smoke.


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