Robby the Robot

Forbidden Planett RobotI have always liked sci-fi, even the early stuff.  Or maybe, especially the early stuff.  I was talking with a friend and he mentioned Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956).  The movie is a classic of early sci-fi, with effects that are better than you would expect for the 1950s, and Robby was a technological wonder.

Forbidden Planet starred Walter Pidgeon (1897 – 1984) who was born when Jules Verne (1828 – 1905) was still alive, and Anne Francis (b. 1930) ,who put the Honey in “Honey West.”  Other stars included Leslie Nielsen (1926 – 2010) before he discovered he was really a comedian, Jack Kelly (1927 – 1992) who played Bart Maverick, and Earl Holliman (b. 1928) who was in everything in the 1950s and 1960s.

Robby the Robot has 26 titles to his credit on IMDb.  He was built at a cost of $125,000 for Forbidden Planet (1956) and The Invisible Boy (1957).  But he was too talented to just sit in a prop department warehouse.

He started showing up on TV series like The Thin Man with Peter Lawford, and The Gale Storm Show in the 1950s.  In the 1960s he was on Hazel, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, a couple of episodes of The Twilight Zone, and The Addams Family.  He appears in two episodes of Lost in Space where he gets to work with his younger brother, Robot B-9 (b. 1965).

Perhaps it was embarrassing, but he played Mildred on The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.  He went on to redeem himself on Columbo and Mork and Mindy all in the 1970s.

He made a few more movies, including Gremlins (1984) and Earth Girls are Easy (1988).  His last listed work was in the Pamela Anderson (b. 1967) TV series Stacked in 2005.

I’m sure Robby isn’t done working yet, but CGI can create much more realistic/terrifying/unusual robots.  Keep watching.  And enjoy the picture of Robby in his prime!

Allen Hefner has been interested in movies since an early age, attending the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA for every Saturday Matinee during his youth, when 50 cents bought you a two-reeler (usually The Three Stooges or Laurel and Hardy), a few cartoons, and a feature film. As a member of The Sons of the Desert,he was privileged to enjoy the company of many film buffs, and to meet many stars of the past. Write to him anytime at and visit Bit Part Actors.