“Here in a single sparkly being, we have an artist and a designer and a mime and a sculptor and an actor and a dancer and a writer and a retailer and an entrepreneur not to mention the countless other orbs his imagination has yet to illuminate or that I have yet to hear about.”
The youngest of three children, Robert Shields was born and raised in California. Fading, flunking, and bombing in the system were the norm until he discovered he was an artist with a unique perspective on the world. He had an unusual early childhood. He didn't speak at all until he was four years old, flunked the third grade, and stuttered until he was seventeen.
He was picked on and humiliated all the way into high school until he discovered he could go without blinking for an hour and twenty minutes. He then perfected his unique body control and left for Canada to join a traveling circus as “Robbie the Robot”. Marcel Marceau saw Robert working at the Hollywood Wax Museum and was so impressed with his raw talent he offered Robert a full scholarship at his school in Paris. His apprenticeship was short-lived as he felt the need to develop his own style and pry mime loose from its arty pedestal and put it in the streets.
SAN FRANCISCO & HOLLYWOOD
He chose Union Square, San Francisco, as his outdoor stage, and was soon hailed as San Francisco’s main tourist attraction, along with the cable cars. Red Skelton visited Shields in Union Square and said, "There are perhaps 35 great clowns left in the world. Robert Shields may be the best one there is.”
He is credited with inventing the robot, inspiring performers such as Michael Jackson and today’s break dancers and poppers. Meeting Lorene Yarnell created a unique entertainment duo and led to the airing of The Shields and Yarnell Show on television in the late 70's, performances around the world, the garnering of the Las Vegas Entertainer of the Year Award and winning an Emmy. When the television show ended, Shields and Yarnell continued to perform in Las Vegas, on Broadway, with symphonies across the country, and all around the world.
In the 1980’s while touring with his one-man show, Shields looked inward and instituted a strict regimen of mime, yoga, meditation, and prayer. His search took him to Japan, Europe and everywhere in between. He considered modern America to be without tradition until he explored the West and, more particularly, Sedona, Arizona and the Southwest. Here he found a style that suited many of his passions-movement, humor, ancient culture and art. Moving to Sedona in the late 1980’s brought forth a rush of creativity. The vivid colors of the natural beauty of the Southwest glowing red rocks, drenched sunsets, twinkling night skies found their way into his paintbox and designs. Traveling the world brought forth a passion for beads, which he used to adorn his jewelry and metal sculptures. Meeting people from all cultures and all walks of life developed a love for native peoples, their traditions, and their art. His love of storytelling moved from the stage telling stories with movement - to his jewelry, sculptures, and paintings telling stories with color, form, and symbols.
"Robert Shields is the greatest mime in America."
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