Robert Shields: My Life As A Robot Image

Robert Shields: My Life As A Robot

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | March 27, 2024

SEDONA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2024 REVIEW! I am speechless over the showstopper magnitude of the incredible mime documentary Robert Shields: My Life As A Robot, directed by Mark C. Bonn and Christine Seibert Bonn. It takes the audience on the artistic journey of seminal 20th-century performer Robert Shields, who took off as a teenage street mime in deep hippie San Francisco.

His huge crowd-pleaser act was when he would act like a mechanical man, clicking and popping back at the dawn of the 70s. Yes, this is the Robert Shields who invented what break dancers call The Robot. While working a Sid and Marty Krofft Special (!), he meets his future partner and wife, Lorene Yarnell. She uses her extensive dance background to become a mechanical lady and street mine with him, together becoming the team Shields and Yarnell.

“His huge crowd-pleaser act was when he would act like a mechanical man, clicking and popping…”

They ride a comet into Vegas and then onto television with a cavalcade of appearances until landing as a regular act on The Mac Davis Show. The film follows the perils of their success as things got better and worse at the same time. We then follow Shields’ adventures in Sedona as he turns to painting and sculpting. Meanwhile, generations of hip-hop dancers like Chadd Smith and Poppin John studied Shields’ work and built a movement of his movements.

You find out when reviewing for Film Threat that there is no high higher than when you realize you are watching a ten. Happens earlier on, as the film just keeps hitting all the marks and then some. Some films can’t keep the greatness up and stumble. Others start great and end well enough. But those rare films that keep getting greater than the sum of all the parts, those are those fabled tens that are so sweet. In the case of Robert Shields: My Life As A Robot, ten is not a high enough number.

Robert Shields: My Life As A Robot (2024)

Directed: Mark C. Bonn, Christine Seibert Bonn


Starring: Robert Shields, Joanna Cassidy, Chadd Smith, Poppin John, Tony Orlando, Mac Davis, Billy Scudder, Steve Binder, Paul Hooson , etc.

Movie score: 10/10

Robert Shields: My Life As A Robot Image

"…ten is not a high enough number."

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  1. Jean Blaske says:

    I was lucky enough to meet Robert this last spring and see up close and personal his talent. I was also a fan of his back in high school when he was with Yarnell. I remember seeing him on different shows like the Mac Davis show and Ed Sullivan. He is a remarkable human being. Very gracious and very private. I enjoyed the time I spent with him and it made me happy that I got to remember childhood memories. I’ve been looking forward to the documentary since I met him.

  2. Belinda Wurn says:

    I love Robert! Ever since meeting him and Lorene in the ‘70’s when my husband Larry flew them to Jacksonville Florida to put on a private show for his grandfather‘s birthday. It was such a treat, watching them perform! Such a talented artist, I am proud to call him a friend!

  3. Fred Delli Santi says:

    Followed Robert since his SF days.
    He has shared his entertainment gift with many…

  4. Sue says:

    Can’t wait to see this in Buffalo NY. Robert Shields, Shields & Yarnell were part of every teen’s conversation in school following each televised performance. Totally looking forward to every aspect of this documentary.

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