Feb 252004
Authors: Elizabeth Kerrigan

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,”

Robinson said.

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

so talented.”

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