Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1931, Robert Ito has spent his film career as a character actor, often in the science fiction genre. He enjoyed success on the long-running television series Quincy, and his voice has been used in many animated films, such as Batman and Superman.
Robert Ito's first performances were on the stage as a dancer in the National Ballet of Canada. After a decade with the company, Ito moved to New York in the 1960s, to dance on Broadway in The Flower Drum Song.
Ito moved to Hollywood and began his film career in 1966 with some forgettable science fiction vehicles, such as Women of the Prehistoric Planet and Dimension 5. The B-movie genre often turned to Ito when it wanted an actor to portray someone of his Japanese heritage. Over the years, he played many such roles, the most outstanding of which was his performance as Professor Hikita, the kidnapped scientist in the 1984 cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
Ito fared well in television, in which he was given roles that showcased his talents in made-for-television movies and series. He appeared in some memorable dramas, such as Helter Skelter (1976), American Geisha (1986), and The War Between Us (1996). The latter film starred Ito as a Canadian World War I veteran and patriarch of a family of Japanese descent, forced to leave his home in Vancouver during the dark days of Japanese resettlement following Pearl Harbor.
Ito also gained distinction for his role as Fong in the Kung Fu series, as well as on popular show Quincy. He made cameo appearances in many other television shows including Magnum, P.I. and Star Trek, which featured him in a 2001 production.