RIP, Robbins Barstow, godfather of the home movie revival

Robbins Barstow, the wonderful father of the home movie revival, has died at home at the age of 91. Barstow's magnificent vintage home movies circulated on the Internet after he began to transfer and upload them: whimsical shorts of Barstow's family vacations in the 1950s and 1960s, as well as movies from Barstow's childhood that recreated popular adventure serials with a lot of verve and humor. Barstow's films were subsequently included in the US National Film Registry, and sparked a national campaign to rescue and disseminate home movies.

Although the film world got to know Robbins through his movies, he also worked as the director of professional development for the Connecticut Educational Association. He was also a founder of the Cetacean Society International, and many of his Barstow Travel Adventures as well as the 1970s sequel to Tarzan and the Rocky Gorge focused on his love for the great whales.

The Barstow family has asked that in lieu of flowers, checks be made out to:

CSI (Barstow Fund)
Mrs. Barbara Kilpatrick
15 Wood Pond Rd.
West Hartford, CT 06107

Rest in peace, Robbins. You were an inspiration to people all over the world.

Robbins Barstow (1919-2010) (Thanks, Molly!)


  1. The home movies of Mr. Barstow, and his family, showed how beautiful life and family relationships can be, given the right perspective.

    They deserve protection in the U.S. National Film Registry, as compared to boatloads of “major” movies that offer no redeeming value.

  2. I met Robbins at a film archivist conference a couple of years ago and remembered how ecstatic he was that you could see his Tarzan film on a DVD (Living Room Cinema) you could get from Netflix!

    I hope to have his energy and enthusiasm in my 80s..

  3. I met Robbins this summer while shooting interviews this summer for a documentary I’m making about fanfilms and fanfilmmakers. Luckily my travel plans brought me near his location, and Robbins was gracious enough to invite me to his house in Connecticut for an interview about his Tarzan films. We shot the interview on his back porch right next to where he used to project the films for the neighborhood, and his wife made cookies for us. It was an honor to meet him, and it was one of the highlights of the interview process. He seemed so full of life then – hard to believe it was only a few months ago.

    He will be missed – but I’m glad his films (and through them, Robbins) will live on.

  4. I knew Robbins Barstow about 20 years ago in CT. He would talk about whales and their importance to anyone and everyone who would listen. His enthusiasm and dedication to saving the whale – at around age 70 — was as great as someone half his age. He was a lovely man.

  5. Robbins was a friend of mine at First Church in Wethersfield, CT and I had the pleasure of interviewing him and his wife, Meg, about a year ago as part of a DVD production celebrating that church’s 375th anniversary. His ancestors were ministers at the church and Robbins and Meg told wonderful stories of their long involvement in the church and many of its social activities over the decades. His work in Saving the Whales, as well as his pioneering movie and community television work will be a great legacy.

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