On November 21, 2017, there was an auction of movie memorabilia called “Out of this World,” sponsored by Turner Classic Movies. It was held at Bonhams, an art-auction house here in New York City. The centerpiece was the original Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet (1956). In addition to Robby, there were film posters, lobby cards, scripts, costumes, and other artifacts from a wide range of classic movies. As soon as I heard about the auction, I checked for preview dates, because I had to see this. I went the day before the auction and took photos of whatever caught my attention, including the one below of Robby.
As it turned out, Robby sold for a record $5.375 million, the most ever paid for a movie prop or costume. Marilyn Monroe’s white dress from The Seven-Year Itch and the Batmobile from the 1966 television series had tied for the previous record of $4.6 million each.
In 1957, Robby was featured as himself in MGM’s The Invisible Boy. I haven’t seen this film, but from what I’ve read, despite the depiction above, Robby is actually a good guy who helps defeat an evil super-computer. He became a science fiction icon in subsequent years — the most recognizable robot in the world — appearing in TV shows and commercials. Robby even has his own IMDb page listing his many credits.
Here is Robby’s entrance in Forbidden Planet.
Below are a few of Robby’s TV appearances: The Perry Como Show, Hazel (in which Robby suffers the indignity of wearing a maid’s cap and apron), Mork & Mindy, and a commercial for Charmin bathroom tissue.
Besides posters, there were also costumes, such as the Superman suit George Reeves wore in Superman and the Mole Men (1951), as well as film scripts (many of them directors personal copies with notes and annotations). Many of the posters on display were part of another TCM auction of vintage movie posters held the day before. Illustrations and information regarding all of the items in both collections may be seen in these catalogs: “Out of This World!” and “Vintage Movie Posters.”
Here is a selection of the photos I took at the auction preview. Some of these are quite stunning.
Note the credit for Ted Healy and His Stooges in the poster above for Dancing Lady (1933). I believe this was an early film appearance of Larry, Moe, and Curly, aka The Three Stooges.
I lucked into this shot of two posters mounted in a corner of one of the galleries. Pretty neat, huh. Not a bad one to end with.
On second thought, I think I’ll give Robby the last word. – Ted Hicks
Must have been a fun thing to see and do.
Fun post! I think this robot must be the precursor to the one on Lost in Space!
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Very cool as always. Did Robby sire Rock em Sock em robots?
That one was fun, Ted!
He’s a lot bigger than I remembered. “Danger, Ted Hicks!”
Loved your tribute to Robby! I can’t stop myself from asking a newbie question, though — was he a functioning robot or a costume? Thanks for indulging me! Melanie
I didn’t know either, but turns out it was a stunt man in the suit. It was taken apart and had to be put together around him. Robby did have a bunch of bells & whistles & stuff that whirred, which was operated from a control panel. The first guy who was in the suit had to be replaced when he showed up one day drunk, got in the suit and nearly tipped it over.
The auction looks awesome and the fact that Robby had his own movie is news to me. Wonder if it’s on YouTube…