In the history of horror, there have been many instances of extremely scary tales involving dolls. The horror doll motif has been explored in many forms of media, especially in movies like Child’s Play and Annabelle. Gruesome dolls that come to life when no one is looking and commit horrific deeds form a common horror trope. However, the tendency for horror masters to turn to this trope stems from real-life incidents involving dolls, and probably the most notorious of those is the story of Robert the Haunted Doll.
The story of Robert the Haunted Doll, believed to be the most horror-inducing haunted doll in the world, is intriguing due to the influence it has had on the world of horror and the enduring nature of the legend, especially in the Key West region where it originated. Let us delve deeper into the background of this cursed object and look at the events surrounding its reign of terror.
The Origin of Robert the Haunted Doll
Robert is a cloth doll of a little boy dressed in a sailor suit. Its face is patched and worn, displaying only vague human characteristics. Its entire body is covered with scars and scratches, and he has black, beady eyes. He also holds his own toy: a dog with abnormally large eyes and a lolling tongue. It is reported to have many supernatural abilities, including the ability to talk, giggle, and move on its own accord.
To understand how the legend of Robert the Haunted Doll started, we have to go back to 1904. This is when Robert Eugene Otto, born in a well-known family in Key West, received the doll as a gift from his grandfather. The doll was reported to be a creation of the Steiff Company, the German company credited with creating the first teddy bear. Robert was probably created not as a child’s plaything but instead as window dressing for a shop.
A separate and more sinister origin story indicates that the family had a young maid who was wronged by the family in some way. It says that she gifted the doll to Eugene in retaliation after cursing it with black magic.
No matter which version you believe, Robert the Doll become a favorite plaything of young Eugene. In spite of its large size, Eugene would carry it everywhere dressed in his own clothing. Eugene’s parents would also often hear him conversing with the doll in a low voice.
In their house at Eaton Street, strange incidents began to take place. One report says that Eugene’s parents once heard a deep, bass voice answering Eugene when he was talking to the doll. Passers-by would often see Robert appearing on a particular upstairs windowsill and disappearing later. Some would claim the doll’s eye would follow them while they walked by. Eventually, a lot of people started avoiding the route that took them past “The Artist’s House.”
Eventually, mishaps started happening around the house that Eugene would blame on the doll. While the parents were quick to dismiss this as the results of the fertile imagination of the child, they could not ignore these happenings for very long. One of the incidents that escalated things to a whole new level was when Eugene suddenly woke up one night and found Robert sitting on the bed, looking at him. His mother then heard loud screams and the sound of furniture being throw around in Eugene’s room.
When she sped to his room, she saw that it was in shambles with things thrown helter-skelter, Eugene curled up in a fetal position, and Robert sitting facing him at the foot of the bed. Over the years, there have been many reports of Robert talking, changing its expression, moving to different locations in the house, and partaking in some devilish giggling. Even when Eugene grew up and got married, the newlywed bride Anne felt uncomfortable in their new home and attributed this to Robert.
Eventually, Eugene made a dedicated attic room for Robert where the doll would be placed with pieces of furniture and toys. Stemming from this, Robert was not fond of the room and would often escape, moving to other places in the house. After the house was sold to a new owner, a young girl in the new family came to own Robert and quickly started recounting similar experiences.
Robert the Haunted Doll can now be found displayed in the Fort East Martello Museum and enjoys a large fanbase. A lot of people visit Robert and write in, most of them apologizing to the doll as they would encounter misfortune after a disrespectful visit. The residence has now turned into a bed-and-breakfast focused on the legend of Robert where tourists go to relive the experience. Thus, the legend of Robert the Haunted Doll has endured for more than a century and continues to fascinate horror fans.
Last Updated on May 12, 2022.