HOLMES AND WALSTON

Robby, the omnicompetent robot from MGM's 1956 phantasmagorical science-fiction epic Forbidden Planet, may or may not be the most famous movie robot of all time. He certainly is the only one to go on to a full career on his own and the only one to have his own IMDb page with over two dozen credits.

The reason is the usual Hollywood mixture of star power and money. Robots were rare outside of the cheapest movie serials, where they resembled a pile of painted cardboard boxes more than the technological future. Though Robby too hid a human controller inside its shell of plexiglas, rubber, and Royalite plastic, the finished design seemed alive and active. Robby was a series of balls, round and even cuddly, surmounted by a head that mimicked humanity with its actively whirling scanner "ears," twitching clocklike "nose," and glittering "voice tubes." Put together with a deep bass voiceover gave Robby a personality, something previously lacking in robots and - from its reception - sorely needed.

Creating Robby involved a team of specialists at a reputed cost of $125,000, an equally phantasmagorical figure at a time when that rivaled the entire budget of many of the schlocky drive-in creature features the movie competed against. The MGM accountants wanted to amortize their investment. After implausibly shoehorning Robby into their own 1957 movie, The Invisible Boy, the studio offered to rent Robby to other production companies for that instant robot goodness. Interest sparked immediately. Robby appeared on The Gale Storm Show: Oh! Susanna and The Thin Man tv series in 1958 and then in another two dozen movies and tv shows down to a cameo on a 2014 episode of The Big Bang Theory, with Robby as iconic historic figure.

 

Obsessive fans have dug up every scrap of fact about Robby's long life, from his creation to his final sale at auction in 2017 for a supposed record $4.5 million dollars plus a hefty buyer's premium, a number that puts him into the stratosphere with other Hollywood icons like the white dress worn by Marilyn Monroe in The Seven-Year Itch ($4.6 million+ in 2011) and the original 1966 Batmobile ($4.6 million+ in 2013, presumably with slightly lower premiums0.

Yet there's an appearance that isn't included on Robby's IMDb page. Pretty much everything that's known about it can be summed up in a paragraph and a pair of names. They reside on an IMDb page about an unsold pilot, a fragment of a fragment. Here they are:

Director: William Malone

Credited cast:

Jerry Mathers ...Darrel Walston

Robert Short ...Robby the Robot

Walston, aided by his robot Roddy (who thinks it's Holmes and Walston is Watson), track down an evil alien who has come to Earth.

Roddy? No, no, no. We can do better than that. But not a whole lot better. I scraped the corners of the internet for information and found only mysteries, along with some fascinating backstory on the show that shouldn't exist, Holmes and Walston.

Holmes and Walston Robby photo at allsci-fi.com

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EK

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