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Can anyone find an example of the first robot that was human in appearance?

The earliest I can think of is in the 1973 film Westworld. I'm looking for the first cinematic android that was created not to replace a specific person, but to have it's own function.

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I wonder if any adaptations of the play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) would count? When I saw the play, the robots looked like people, but screen shots from the 1935 film adaptation (first listed on Wiki) they look like mechanical men. –  supercat May 2 at 17:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The earliest fictional robots and androids in film listed on Wikipedia are:

  • The Dummy, played by Ben Turpin in the silent short A Clever Dummy, dating from 1917, when the term "robot" did not yet exist.

    -> Doesn't count: the Dummy was made to replace a postman.

  • The Mechanical Man from the silent film of the same name (1921)

    -> Doesn't count: the Mechanical Man doesn't look like a human.

  • Maria/Futura, the Maschinenmensch – a robotic gynoid, played by German actress Brigitte Helm in both her robotic-appearing and human-appearing forms—from Metropolis, the silent science fiction film by famed Austrian-German director Fritz Lang (1927)

    -> Might count: the Maschinenmensch had both human and robotic forms.

Going down the list, the next human-looking androids are:

  • Sexbots or Fembots, including Robot # 11 (Diane) in Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) and Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966)

And the first on the list that specifically mentions androids is:

  • The robotic gunfighters and other androids in Westworld, one of which was played by Yul Brynner (1973)

It's interesting that androids don't really show up in movies until relatively late compared to books, as it's much easier to show a normal-looking human and claim it's a robot underneath than these clunky looking mechanical robots. But perhaps there wasn't much fun doing it that way, and perhaps audiences would have felt cheated.

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You know your onions!, fantastic research. I was more interested in the cinematic portrayal of an android than the literal. I don't recall seeing a portrayal of a "human" robot prior to Westworld. –  Workin' class hero Aug 17 '12 at 22:51
Can you add a link for Dr Goldfoot? This could be a winner. –  Workin' class hero Aug 17 '12 at 23:13
Links added to each film, where you can see the Fembots in the posters. –  Hugo Aug 18 '12 at 21:24

The Golem (1920) is already quite human - but no robot.

In Metropolis (1927) you find a robot, which is transformed to a very human looking Maria see this youtube video

I found some hints of a 1886 film l'Eve Futur:

In 1886, the French novel l'Eve Futur featured a Thomas Edison-like mad scientist building a robot in the likeness of a woman. source

Same information at I'm searching for some more information.

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Totally forgot about that one! I was more looking for an android which was specifically created to be a robot rather than created to replace a human>>Rotwang was in love with Joh’s deceased wife Hel, and – to Joh’s horror — reveals that he has been building a robot in order to ‘resurrect’ her>> Sorry should have specified(bit new to all this!) –  Workin' class hero Aug 15 '12 at 21:22
You can edit your question to add some more detailed information to your question. –  knut Aug 15 '12 at 21:30
Edit done, hope this helps. The easier way to describe what I am searching for is the first Ash( ALIEN)type character or yul Brynner from Westworld. –  Workin' class hero Aug 15 '12 at 22:11
L'Ève future (1886) may feature an android, but it's a book and not a film. Metropolis (1920) may be the first film android. –  Hugo Aug 17 '12 at 20:07

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