Imagine growing up in a home where Oscars from the Academy
Awards cluttered the fireplace mantel and if you were lucky, your
dad might just let you skip school to go to work with him and watch
him crash Corvettes or blow up blimps.
For most of us, this is far from reality, but for Glen Robinson
Jr., growing up with a father who worked on major motion pictures
for a living was completely normal.
“I think my dad’s favorite part about his job was smashing and
destroying things,” Robinson said.
Robinson’s father, Glen Robinson Sr., was a special effects
mastermind who spent his days designing perfect explosions and
outrageous crashes for Hollywood movies and commercials. The
combination of his brains, his expertise and the talented special
effects teams with which he worked won him four Academy Awards in
the 1970s for visual effects in “King Kong,” “Logan’s Run,” “The
Hindenburg” and “Earth Quake.”
“He was most proud of ‘The Hindenburg’ because, even though it
was not great on return of investment, he was able to exactly
recreate the explosion of a blimp in one take so that it seamlessly
matched the news footage from the actual Hindenburg explosion,”
Winning such a prestigious award four times is an incredible
honor, and Robinson said that no matter how proud his dad was, he
still always credited his entire team with being exceptionally
“When accepting the awards, my dad was always nervous but very
proud of the people he worked with,” Robinson said. “Although he
was usually the brain behind (the projects).”
Robinson said his dad was raised in a suburb of Los Angeles
where his father, Robinson’s grandfather, worked for MGM Studios.
Growing up with that Hollywood influence, Robinson said his dad
knew immediately that he was interested in movies.
“Surprisingly, my dad never went to college,” Robinson said. “He
was completely self-taught.”
Robinson said his dad worked for MGM studios until about 1974,
when he left MGM to be independently employed.
“He was just so good at everything he did, whether it was
explosives, hydraulics or effects of any kind,” Robinson said. “He
enjoyed being independent.”
He said that while his dad was a very safety-conscious person
when working with dangerous effects, he constantly pushed to have
the most extreme visuals he could get out of any stunt.
“When he worked on the movie ‘Forbidden Planet,’ there was a
scene where he had to create an effect to make a door melt,”
Robinson said. “The first time he made it work but the director
said it wasn’t good enough, so by the second take (he used so much)
Zirconium, that the door burned through the stage floor down to the
dirt in the foundation!”
Robinson was forced to retire in 1987 when he suffered a series
of small strokes. He passed away on March 27, 2002.
And yet despite everything his father accomplished, Robinson
said there was one thing that he spoke about that he never got to
“His favorite director of all time was Alfred Hitchcock,”
Robinson said. “He always wanted to work with him.”
However, Robinson’s father’s legacy will live on through
memories, pictures and the four Academy Awards that now grace the
homes of his four children.
“I was always really proud of him,” Robinson said. “He was just