Updated: March 25, 2006|
That simple phrase entered the American lexicon nearly 40 years ado, and will forever be associated with the most famous Robot of all time! Robot B-9 is an environment control unit designed to assist the Robinsons' colonization of Alpha Centauri. During the course of his adventures, the Robot would accomplish tasks such as testing atmospheres, taking soil samples, carrying heavy equipment, communicating in various alien and electronic languages, protecting his fellow travelers, and being out tunes while playing a mean guitar.
Of course, he also took the brunt of the irascible Dr. Smith's temper. These jibes flew from Smith's lips to the delight of the Tv viewers. "Bubble Headed Booby", "Neanderthal Ninny", "Tin-Plated Tattletale", among many others. Our quick-witted Robot could give as well as he could take, too. In the early episodes the character was merely a machine, acting and reacting to only how he had been programmed by others. By the time of the episode "War of the Robots", in which he faced a foe portrayed by Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot, the B-9 Robot's character had become much more human. In a touching scene from that episode, Maureen Robinson, played by June Lockhart, conveyed that he was more than just a machine..."he was a part of the Robinson family!"
"The Creation of the Robot B-9"
In 1965, after CBS executives screened the Lost in Space pilot "No Place to Hide", they suggested to Producer/Creator Irwin Allen to add two additions to the cast, Dr. Smith and the Robot immediately, work began on creating something believable yet practical for television filming. Acclaimed designer Bob Kinoshita, who years before had designed the fore-mentioned Robby, put his skills to the test and created a pop-culture icon.
Kinoshita created two full-sized Robots for filming. The first was more of a costume than a prop, and was worn by actor Bob May. This Robot was modified in the early 1970's into something more akin to a white refrigerator than a Robot - for a Saturday morning children's show. It was then rescued by a 20th Century Fox executive and fully restored.
This stunt Robot is a full-sized prop, used for many scenes in which it was unsafe or unnecessary for an actor to be inside. You can clearly see this Robot floating in space in "The Condemned of Space", being attacked by a Cyborg in "Space Destructors", knocked down by the "Anti-Matter" John Robinson in, "The Anti-Matter-Man", and being hung upside down by a giant magnet and run through a blast furnace in "Junkyard in Space". There were even times when both Robots appeared together in the same scenes! In "Flight into the Future", our Robot posed as a statue in honor of the other Robot. Then, more notably in "The Anti-Matter-Man", he even portrayed an evil Anti-Matter Robot.
After the run of the series, like many of the props from Irwin Allen's shows, the Robot was relegated to storage on the 20th Century Fox back lot. When Fox sold the land in the early 1970's, the Robot (along with many other Lost in Space artefacts, including the Jupiter-2 was purchased to save it from imminent destruction.
Due to it's age, the Robot was in need of some minor cosmetic restoration. The Robot's original owner and restorer was Academy Award-nominated Hollywood model maker Greg Jein. The exterior of the Robot was repainted with matching paint; some of the missing and/or broken chest lights were replaced with original parts (spares acquired along with the Robot); and new matching claws were created and affixed. Original neon tubing was installed in the mouth, and the special effects holes in the torso (originally made during filming of the series) were repaired. The Robot's arms, having been molded in rubber, have now hardened and developed surface cracks due to age, but they are the original screen-used arms.
This stunt Robot has been displayed at many science fiction conventions around the world. In it's many travels, it has acquired autographs of all of the original cast members (Except Guy Williams, who passed away in 1989); their signatures appear in ink on the back of the Robot's torso.
Photo's and Text Courtesy of Profiles in History!