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We are lucky enough to be constantly adding more cast members - so be sure to come back and check-in!

Lorene name

Lorene Yarnell Jansson passed away in 2010, but her contributions to this story are immeasurable and her part in Robert's life is evident throughout the documentary. She was not only his partner in mime, she was his partner in marriage for over 14 years.

An amazing dancer, she began her career in movies and on TV shows, inlcuding Bye, Bye Birdie and The Carol Burnett Show among so many others! Meeting Robert on the set of
Fol-de-Rol changed both of their lives forever - setting them on the course to stardom and entertainment history.

She taught him dance and he taught her the Robot and together they became "Shields & Yarnell"!



Golden Globe winner, Joanna Cassidy, played one of the very few recurring roles on
Shields & Yarnell. As the “normal” neighbor in the much loved “Clinkers” sketches, Joanna had no problem letting the blank staring robots throw her in closets, break plates over her head and even dump her into a washing machine – soap and all!

Well known for her Emmy nominated role as Margaret Chenowith in Six Feet Under, Joanna shares her thoughts on working with Robert and Lorene so early in her career. She talks of the interesting circumstances created when working with actors whose job it is NOT to react, and of how special, hard working and exceptional she felt that the two of them truly were.

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Robert credits Tony Orlando with giving Shields & Yarnell their first big break in Vegas!

Orlando took a huge chance, to the point of putting his own Las Vegas show on the line, because he believed in the talent and uniqueness that was Shields & Yarnell. On his manager’s recommendation, Tony watched a film of Robert and Lorene in Union Square, and immediately knew they should be opening for him at the Riviera.

Well-known for hit singles such as "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree;" "Knock Three Times;" "Sweet Gypsy Rose;" and numerous other chart-topping songs, Tony also hosted and performed on the popular variety show, "Tony Orlando & Dawn," that aired on CBS prime time for four seasons in the mid-1970s.

In our interview, he reminisces freely about hanging out with Robert long into the wee hours of the morning after the Riviera shows; about trying to learn Robert’s famous “Robot” moves (with mixed success); and about teaching Robert how to speak comfortably to an audience (no small feat for a mime!).

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Click on photo to
about Steve

In the late 70's Mr. Binder began managing Shields & Yarnell, and was able to book them as guest performers on many variety shows of the time. Eventually he landed them their own primetime variety show - which he also produced and directed.

Steve contributes wonderful stories of Robert and Lorene's time in Las Vegas and his friendship with them through the years.

A well known Producer/Director, Steve Binder began his career in the mail room at KABC, and within a few months was directing his first show. He went on to produce and direct literally hundreds of programs, including the legendary The Steve Allen Westinghouse Show (the precursor to The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson).

As writer/Director of the rock documentary The T.A.M.I. Show, Steve showcased such up-and-coming acts as The Supremes, The Rolling Stones and James Brown.

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The Mac Davis Show was the first to put Shields & Yarnell on the map. And Mr. Davis has some unique insights into what it was like to see Robert and Lorene do their robots for the first time - before anyone knew what human robots looked like! We also have some wonderful clips from Mac's show, including their famous Honeymoon skit.

Early in Mac's career he wrote songs for Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra (among others), including number-one hits: "Memories" and "In The Ghetto". He has also received the Academy of Country Music's "Entertainer of the Year" award.


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madd chadd

Chadd was such a Robert Shields fan that, before there was YouTube, he and many of the other Poppers would exchange VHS tapes that they had of Robert's work. He even created a "mix tape" of these videos to play over and over again while perfecting his own style of Robot.

Telling his story of Robert as his inspiration, Chadd also talks about the Popping community and what a large role Robert's work still plays.

Chadd is known in the popping community as the Master of Mechanical Movement and Robot dancing. Best known for his work in the Step Up movies and with the LXD (Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) Chadd regards Robert as the Grandfather of "Popping" (a dance form that he prefers to call "Dancing Mime").

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poppin john poppin name

YouTube sensation Poppin John first saw Robert perform “The Clinkers” when he was a young child and decided then that this was what he wanted to do. He calls Robert Popping royalty; Robert believes that John has taken his robot movements to a higher level of art. Shields is very proud to be an inspiration for the popping community.

Poppin John is a professional dancer / illusionist and has been performing for over 21 years, specializing in crowd pleasing robotic illusions, silky smooth waves, and straight explosive popping. He has multiple viral videos on YouTube with over 200 million views. He has performed, battled and taught classes all over the world and has turned his dance into a tool for inspiration to the new generation. He has performed on Americas Got Talent and So You Think You Can Dance and was a Divisional Finalist on NBC’s hit television show World of Dance Season 3.

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Gary Mess pic

messenger name

From high school to present day, Gary Messenger has been one of Robert’s oldest friends. They shared their first apartment together in Hollywood, and Gary briefly became his buddy's first manager when “Robbie the Robot” was hired by the Hollywood Wax Museum to perform on the sidewalk outside of their Hollywood Boulevard site.

The two men are still friends after all these years, and Gary tells the stories no one else knows. He was there during Shields' transformation from solitary artist to street performer, witnessing the development  and perfection of the act that would later make Robert famous.

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He represented Robert in court whenever he was arrested - which happened with regularity (once for peeing on a cop... of course, it was mime peeing). Martin Dean "discovered" Robert Shields one day when he went to Union Square during his lunch break from the travails of being a Government Lawyer in San Francisco. Taken by Robert's obvious love of life and performing, Martin handed over his card and told the appealing mime to call if he ever needed Representation - Robert called him the very next week

His take on how much Robert annoyed the cops in SF and the gamut of responses as Shields mimed his sorry tale to the judges in court gives a whole new view of Robert's dedication to the art of making people laugh.

Oh, and Dean was also there to see Robert open for the Rolling Stones in 1972!

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amie hill

Robert credits Amie with inspiring him to move to San Francisco; after all, she was the one to turn him loose in Union Square, where he became a mainstay of the San Francisco scene in the early 70s.

As one of the first female feature writers for Rolling Stone magazine, Amie brought Robert even more notoriety when she wrote a full-page RS article about him. (Rolling Stone Magazine article)

She was also there, beaming like a proud parent, when Robert and his partner-in-mime Lorene Yarnell were married in Union Square in front of hundreds of friends, family and fans.

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billy s pic

billy s title

Billy has many wonderful tales of Robert's first adventures into the world of Mime. He first met Robert at the 1968 Southern California Renaissance Faire. Billy recalls that he was performing as a mime when Robert walked up and whispered, “What are you doing?” Billy then became the first person to put Robert in mime make-up. Robert was hooked.

Joining with Kathleen Wells, they formed a mime trio called, The Cripplegate Roundabouts, playing for several summers at the Northern & Southern Renaissance Faires.

Billy is best known for playing Charlie Chaplin in a series of award-winning IBM commercials and print ads,

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hooson pic

p hooson name

While attending Marcel Marceau’s School of Mime in Paris 1970, Paul got the chance to witness Robert’s talent up close in the group sessions every Friday.  While it was only for a couple of weeks with Robert, he and the other students knew Robbie (as he calls him)  would go on to greatness.

Paul is a professional stage, street, and therapeutic clown, former student of Marcel Marceau and Etienne Decroux, and was a member of the influential “Palais des Merveilles” street theatre company in Paris in 1971/1972. He has an extensive resume as a puppeteer in film and television, including Stargate SG1/Atlantis, The Santa Claus 2, Scary Movie 3, Alien vs. Predator Requiem, and iRobot. He formed the “Mirth Unit” Therapeutic Clown Program at B.C. Children’s Hospital in 1994, becoming Canada’s first Therapeutic Clown Doctor.

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Diane S Diane s name

Unconditional love, secrets and... torture?

For most of us, nobody knows you better than your older sibling. This is certainly true for Robert and his older sister, Diane Shields. She helped to raise her little brother Robert, and has the embarrassing family stories to prove it.

Her entertaining and revealing tales of his early years shed light on who Robert is today.

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Gary M photo Gary M name

Gary was an Officer in the San Francisco Police Force from 1964 to 1993. Little did he know that on October 5, 1975, a call to Union Square would land him in a large newspaper photo… manhandling a mime.

Now, nearly 40 years later, Sgt. Marble recounts his tale of trying to peacefully remove this silent man from his adoring crowd. In the film the Veteran Officer explains how Robert would try to act out his pleas for amnesty, but, as Marble notes laconically: "I don't speak Mime."

(SF Chronicle arrest article) by infamous SF columnist Herb Caen.
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visit Robert's website