It was revealed that a true unsung hero of pop culture passed away this week. Robert Kinoshita was 100 years old when he died last month in Torrence, California.
Over a five-decade career as a set designer, art director, production designer and producer on numerous film and television projects created numerous iconic images, sets and props, with the two foremost being Robot B9 from Lost in Space and Robbie The Robot from Forbidden Planet. These two mechanical men consistently rank among the most memorable movie or TV robots of all time, arguably they are the two most iconic robots in science fiction, prior to Star Wars.
Born in February, 1914 in Los Angeles, Kinoshita was already working in the film industry when he was sent to an internment camp in Arizona during World War Two. After a stint as an industrial designer in Wisconsin after the war, Kinoshita returned to Hollywood in the early 1950s and made his mark as a set designer on Forbidden Planet. He also created Robbie The Robot, as an amalgam of several other designs by MGM’s art department and his own contributions.
Robbie may have been the first “superstar robot,” making appearances on several TV shows over the years.He showed up on everything from Hazel to The Love Boat to The Twilight Zone.
Also in the 1950s, he also created the robot Tobor from Here Comes Tobor and worked in various capacities on television series like Science Fiction Theater, Highway Patrol, Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson and Men Into Space.
Later in his career, Kinoshita served as associate producer and production designer on the independent films The Phantom Planet and Hell’s Bloody Devils and did freelance work on Hawaii-5-0, Barnaby Jones and Gene Roddenberry’s pilot Planet Earth, among others.
As the art director for Lost In Space, Kinoshita captured lightning in a bottle a second time with Robot B9, which notably was not that similar, visually, to Robbie. Robot B9 was a much bigger star initially, but like Adam West and the supporting cast of Star Trek, he seemed typecast and didn’t make many appearances outside of Lost In Space.
Kinoshita continued working in film until the mid-1980s. I had to take a few inches of The PopCulteer to salute one of the major influences on my childhood. I don’t quite know how my world would have been shaped without the influence of these two cool robots.
VOA Events Page
While we try to cover Stuff To Do here in PopCult, a lot of cool events slip through our fingers. If you want another source for upcoming cool live events, check out the Voices of Appalachia Events Page. Not only are the kind enough to let Radio Free Charleston be part of New Appalachian Radio, but now they’re keeping everybody abreast of what’s happening in the area.
Stuff To Do
Free Music Friday
Marshall Petty and The Groove will perform at Five Corners Cafe from 5 PM to 8 PM this evening on Charleston’s West Side. C & S Railroad will be at Bruno’s at 9 PM.
Friday Night Music
Free Music Saturday
Something called The Coal Miner Musical happens at Bruno’s on Leon Sullivan Way Saturday at 7;30. With music from Andy Park, Greg Wegman, and the Boone County Bard Alan Griffith, this sounds like an amazing night of original music. I hear that there should be some stimulating conversation with Mountain Party members, also. They’re not some weird cult talking about UFO’s but intelligent West Virginian’s with a different view. With no cover and three great musicians, this sounds like a winner.
Saturday Stuff To Do
That’s it for this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day for all our regular features.