Posts Tagged ‘Fake’

1954 – Gyro the Robot – Morgan Kaolian (American)

GYRO The Robot was created for a children’s show on WICC-TV Channel 43. He was designed and built by the Art Director of WICC-TV Morgan Kaolian in 1954. GYRO joined TRIXIE THE CLOWN on the children’s show. Trixie (Dick Chalmers) did tricks while GYRO drew pictures about outer space and sang with the kids.

See other early Humanoid Robots here.

Tags: , , , , ,

1940 – Silo, the Zenith Robot Man – (American)

Source: Nevada State Journal 12 Dec 1940.

Tags: , , ,

1935 – French Side-show Robot Man – (French)

Fun fair. France, about 1935.

Robot appearing at a French fairground side-show in 1935.

Woman and a robot. France, about 1935.

Robot. France, about 1935.

Robot. France, about 1935.

Other than these images, I have very little information on this side-show "Robot Man".

Woman and a robot. France, about 1935.

Making The First Mechanic Film

Robot appearing in an Italian film c 1950.

Making The First Mechanic Film

1906-1935 “Mechanical Man” – Ray A. Willis (American)

Mechanical Man Exposed; Talks Freely – (Source – Fitchburg Sentinel, 18 Feb 1935.)
The "Mechanical Man" isn't.
"It" or "he" is a human being, adept at impersonating a mechanical man, robot or some similar electric device.
This was disclosed last night at the Oyster Bar when he was publicly "opened," the act consisting of the transformation of a rigid, stiff-jointed, jerky, expressionless nameless "thing" that looked like an armoured man, into a regular fellow, glad of the opportunity to relax after five strenuous days in this city in which he deceived thousands. Sponsored by the Fitchburg Motors, Inc, Ford distributors, the Fitchburg Hardware Co, Firestone Service Stores, Inc , and the Oyster Bar, the "Mechanical Man" attracted huge crowds to the headquarters of each of these organizations. He is Ray A. Willis at St Louis, Mo., one of Ripley's Believe-It-Or-Not marvels at the Chicago exposition. He has toured the country for 19 years— starting many years before a robot was even dreamed about He has mystified millions and has caused many arguments While he was in this city, the "Mechanical Man" was operated, by a woman standing behind him or sitting alongside of him when he was driving an automobile, by means of buttons on his back. These were supposedly connected with electrical magnets which controlled "its" movements. These buttons, it developed, do not mean a thing other than delusion or deception. 'Incidentally the operator is Mrs. Willis, wife of the mechanical man.
The exhibit caused a traffic tie-up near the Fitchburg Hardware Co. Saturday afternoon, when hundreds viewed it So big were the crowds in the store, Mr. and Mrs Willis decided to drive the Ford V8 longer than they were scheduled to remain on the street.
An onlooker at Fitchburg Hardware expressed a desire to stick a pin in the mechanical man as a test Mrs Willis agreed to allow it to be done. She consented so readily that the dubious one was quickly convinced that he was not a human being.
"They have stuck pins into my flesh," said Mr Willis after the expose "What do I do? I just take it. That is part of the job.
"At the Firestone station Saturday afternoon a fellow cracked me on the head with his fist. It was quite a blow, I just took it nonchalantly. I had to, or reveal myself as a man.
"But that's nothing. I got away easily in Fitchburg. The toughest was when I was thrown out an automobile, going 35 miles an hour, into a ditch, just to prove to a Doubting Thomas that I was mechanical 'Twas quite a toss, believe me or not, but I got away with it because I steeled myself for the contact with the ground.
"Once in Westbrook, Me., a man threw pepper at me. I got very little of it, yet I did not quiver a bit However, the worst part of the incident was that most of the pepper got into my "wife's eyes, causing her to endure intense pain for a week or more.
"Once a woman took a hatpin and attempted to scratch my arm. She did not do it because, to my good fortune, she selected a spot on my arm that was bandaged and the head of the pin was dull. I have had many other lucky breaks.
"It takes me an hour to make up. I use a powder over the grease on my face and neck to create the wax appearance. I make up alone, chiefly by touch. To get my eyes set so that they do not move a bit when I am on exhibition, I have to work an hour. You know, when I am working I am really the fellow who can not bat an eye. I claim the world's record for these eyes of mine—six hours and 52 minutes without batting an eye."
Mr. Willis, who has showed in nearly every state in the union, Canada and Mexico, says that he has many imitators and that only three others in the world have successfully impersonated the mechanical man.
He will be in Leommater this week. Regarding publicity being given to the expose he said that it does not keep down attendance at his performances.
"Only those actually present at the expose are convinced that I am a man," he said "More than half of those who have seen me have read and heard about robots and they insist I am an electrically-operated mechanical device. They come a second time to get another look at me".

Note: At the Chicago Exhibition, the mechanical man was named "Robota".

Tags: , , , ,

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: