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IN MEMORY OF ART DIRECTOR BOB KINOSHITA

Updated: March 08, 2018

Robert Kinoshita (February 24, 1914 – December 9, 2014) was an artist, art director, and set and production designer who worked in the American film and television industries from the 1950s through the early 1980s.

Kinoshita was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Boyle Heights neighborhood. After graduating from Roosevelt High School, he went to the University of Southern California to study architecture. Kinoshita graduated from USC in 1940 with a bachelor's degree in architecture and design. During World War II, Kinoshita and his wife Lillian Matsuyama were interned at the Poston War Relocation Center in Arizona. His career as a screenwriter started with Hundred Men and a Girl in 1937, while it took several years post war before he returned to the big screen in 1956 for the special effects tasks and built the famous Robby the Robot in forbidden Planet, although without credit.

Kinoshita is best known as the designer of three of the most famous robots in science fiction: Tobor from the 1954 film Tobor the Great as well as the 1957 television pilot Here Comes Tobor; Robby the Robot from the films Forbidden Planet in 1956 and The Invisible Boy in 1957; and "B9 Environmental Control" robot from the 1960s TV series Lost in Space, which was called "Robot".

Created at a cost of anywhere between $125,000 and $1,000,000 — depending on which source is quoted — and measuring around 7 feet (213 cm) tall, Robby the Robot was the result of the efforts of a number of individuals, although the final design as it appeared in Forbidden Planet is usually attributed to Kinoshita, who was head draftsman of the art department, and who produced the working drawings and blueprints for Robby's construction under the supervision of art director A. Arnold "Buddy" Gillespie at MGM.

Around April 1965, Irwin Allen hired Kinoshita as the art director for the Lost in Space series. Of the many tasks to befall Kinoshita, two of them were to come up with a robot (which he nicknamed "Blinky") and to redesign the pilot film's Gemini XII space ship into what would become the Jupiter-2. This robot never had a real name—only the model number "B9." In the show he was referred to as "the robot" or called by the generic name, "Robot." He was brought to life by the combination of actor Bob May and voice actor Dick Tufeld. Two of Kinoshita's famous robots appeared faceplate-to-faceplate in the Lost in Space episodes "War of the Robots" and "Condemned of Space", where Robby the Robot appeared as a guest robotoid and robot, respectively.

Among his credits are art direction on four other well-known TV shows: Highway Patrol (1955–1959), Bat Materson (1960–1961), Hawaii Five-O (1970–1971), and Kojak (1973–1974). Kinoshita also contributed production design to several features including The Phantom Planet (1961). The B9 robot fan club provided photos of Kinoshita on his 94th birthday as well as an interview. Robert Kinoshita turned 100 in February 2014 and died in December 2014.


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