Archive for December, 2010

1938 – Rupert the Mechanical Man – Albert Creuziger (German)

Albert Creuziger was a German 'inventor' who exhibited 'Rupert' in England.

Creuziger used bluff to prevent close scrutiny of his so-called robot

"…Of course, there were many people who wanted at all costs to more closely get acquainted with "Rupert"'s structure to understand the many wonders. But everyone refused Creuziger engineer. He stated that no one could afford the precious robot , because if you fail, there would be immeasurable loss.

Five or even ten years it will take, and the like can be set up  withUSD$20,000 in costs. Some nevertheless insisted on a closer examination, the inventor, said: "It's all right. But I need a written promissory that he gets messed up, the robot must be fully reimbursed. "Then their nosiness suddenly subsided. USD$20,000 is not trivial."

Source: here.

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1935 – Robota the Mechanical Man (American)

from The Syracuse Herald 9 May 1935.

Both the Electrical Circus, with its thrilling Chicago entury of Progress demonstrations of man-made lightning, black light, the electric eye,  and electric robots with both tastes and sounds vegetable ripeness, and Robota. the mechanical man, remain bright spots of the big Exposition.
Describlng himself as one of four mechanical men still in the game, Robota declared today that he won a wager recently by standing statuelike for 45 minutes without moving a muscle or an eyelid. So lifeless is his appearance and so mechanical his movements, that many In the crowd assert he's "all done with wires and mirrors."

Most likely "Robota" is a stage name for Ray A. Willis. See most post on him here.

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1935 – Telepathovox – (British)

A photograph of a woman listening to the 'telepathovox', taken by an unknown photographer for the Daily Herald newspaper on 17 August, 1935. Displayed on the Marconiphone stand at the Radiolympia show held at Olympia, London, the device was described as an 'amazing machine which answers questions in an uncanny manner.'

Another Marconi robot (similar head) at the Olympia Radio Exhibition.

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1935 – Alpha the Robot (American)

Alpha the Robot at the 1935-7 San Diego Exposition held at Balboa Park.

Alpha the Robot kidnapping Queen Zorine of the Nudists.

1935 – Alpha the Robot [Image date incorrect].

Called “Zoro Gardens,” the exhibit featured 50 nudists from “nature cults” all over the world. The colony was presided over by a King Adolf and Queen Zorine. Spectators paid 25 cents to view the colony. Despite protests from a number of church groups, the exhibit was a hit and stayed open for the entire two-year run of the Exposition.



The leading lady was "Queen Zorine," played by 22-year-old Yvonne Stacey. Source: here.


Ad from 1936. Source: here.

See other early Pseudo and Fake Robots here.


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1923 – Claudo the Mechanical Man –

information sourced from

But thanks to a recent eBay purchase and some additional research of my own, I now know the still to be precisely what it claims to be… an MGM publicity still, circa 1928, when LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT was enjoying its initial run in theatres.
The 'mystery man' in the photo is a performer who worked almost exclusively in Pennsylvania, under the name of 'Claudo, the Mechanical Man'. He'd been doing his 'mechanical man' routine… standing on the street perfectly motionless, like an automaton… as an advertizing gimmick for stores in various local towns from around 1923.
However, Claudo also had a prominent sideline, dressing up as figures from motion pictures in order to advertize these outside movie theatres; and his tastes seem to have been very much those of a monster kid.
Indeed, he's something of a pioneer in that regard, a kind of 'horror host before the fact' in terms of his home-made make-up and street performances, which took in everything from Lon Chaney's Quasimodo and would-be LAM vampire, via Lugosi's Dracula and Fredric March's Mr. Hyde, to Karloff's rendition of the Frankenstein monster (photos of all these included below). Truly, I've been astounded to find him doing the kind of specifically horror-themed ballyhoo that he was at such an early point in time.
Claudo even had a Chaney-inspired nickname of his own. To quote from the Chester Times (PA) of 23rd March 1928: 'Hundreds literally jammed the street in front of the Hopkins Music Store on Market Street to view the mechanical man 'Claudo,' also known as the 'Man With The Thousand Faces'.'
The LONDON AFTER MIDNIGHT still above, which lacks the quality of a typical MGM still of the period, indeed seems to have been the work of a local Philadelphia photographer. The MGM publicity code was simply added after the fact by the studio, who presumably had come to hear of Claudo's antics, and thought they could derive some publicity from a news item about him. I haven't found the still employed to that end anywhere, though… not even in the local Pennsylvania press… perhaps because the end result looks as tacky as it does.
Claudo's act endured for DECADES. He could still be found performing at local fairs and carnivals into the 1960s, and his motion picture promotional antics were mentioned in the trade journal Boxoffice as late as 7th September 1957: 'Stanley Warner's Stanton [Theatre in Philadelphia] had Claudo the Mechanical Man on the street, exploiting the science-fiction twin bill THE GIANT CLAW and THE NIGHT THE WORLD EXPLODED.'
Of course, I wish I had a still of him dressed as a giant turkey… just as I wish I knew the identity of the man behind 'Claudo'… but what I do now have are a series of images charting at least some of this long-term 'mystery man's' incredible horror-focused career…
I let Adobe Acrobat's character recognition software do the sifting (Google News Archive uses something similar, as does It can find any name or phrase entered in a scanned document, so long as it's in a font the software can recognize… meaning that it finds most things, but certainly isn't infallible, since it can't for example read the hand-drawn or angled fonts of many movie ad mats, and so on.
Like you, I wondered whether Claudo might have been the first 'mechanical man,' but it seems we've all underestimated just how far back this particular type of attraction goes. As early as 1910, a New York-based performer of this type was calling himself Eudoxus, the Original Mechanical Man, indicating that he was in competition against other 'mechanical men.'
Clinton E. Marquis of Wisconsin, a self-described 'hypnotist and expert in mental phenomena,' was appearing billed as a 'mechanical man' in shop windows at least as early as 1907, during which year an M. E. Kahn appeared billed in the same way at fairs and stores in and around Washington, D.C.
Prior to that, I've also found a couple of other 'mechanical men' appearing in store windows in Colorado and Kansas during 1905 and 1906… and I doubt either of them was the 'original,' either.
November 1905 ad for an unnamed 'Mechanical Man' (possibly Norba the Mechanical Man, active until ca. 1914) in Colorado Springs: