Robert The Doll: The haunted doll that's been terrorising people for over 100 years

Updated: Oct 2, 2021

The frightening story of Robert the Doll started when he was given as a gift to a young boy by the name of Robert Eugene Otto back in 1904, haunting Key West, Florida ever since.

The haunting of Robert the Doll
Robert the Doll is thought by many to be the world's most haunted toy

Could this handmade doll with a worn fabric face possibly be the most haunted toy in the world? Robert the Doll appears to be a simple, friendly toy on first glance, his story couldn't be further from that presumption.

His solid black eyes made from hard beads appear to stare straight through you, the clean and crisp white sailor suit he is wearing once belonged to his now-deceased owner. Sitting on his knee is a manic looking dog with huge bulging eyes and a long tongue hanging from its mouth.

Legend claims that this 116-year-old straw doll is haunted by a malevolent spirit to this day. His original owner, a young boy who was named Robert Eugene Otto, used to blame the doll for the trouble he used to get into, the doll was blamed for the child's mischief until the forces inside the toy are said to have turned his childhood mischief into something much more sinister. Even today, misfortune and misery is said to come to anyone who insults Robert the Doll, it is no secret that Robert the Doll is still a terrifying experience for anyone who encounters him.

Robert Eugene Otto wearing his sailor suit as a child
A young Robert Eugene Otto on the right, wearing his sailor suit that Robert the Doll still wears today

The story of how Robert the Doll first came into the hands of his late owner is still somewhat of a debate. Some claim that he was a gift from his grandfather in 1904, but locals state somewhat of a more sinister backstory, they say that the straw-filled doll was given to young Robert Eugene Otto by one of the family's maids, who they say cursed it in retaliation for some wrongdoing towards her.

The officials of the Fort East Martello Museum, where Robert the Doll currently lives, said that the doll was never actually supposed to be a doll. His origins have been traced back to the Steiff Company, the toy company that designed the very first teddy bear, a company historian for Steiff told the museum that Robert the Doll was most probably meant to be part of a window display.

Regardless of what Robert the Doll was meant to be, he was welcomed into the Otto family and quickly became Robert Eugene Otto's best friend.

The most haunted doll in the world, Robert the Doll
Robert the Doll is made from fabric and straw and shows clear signs of age

Young Robert Eugene Otto was so enthralled with his new doll, he even named it after himself and dressed it in his own clothes. Robert the Doll is awkwardly large for a child to handle, however, young Otto carried it with him wherever he went.

As many children do with their favourite toys, Otto used to whisper and talk to Robert the Doll frequently, this was all seen as normal child behaviour, until one day his parents heard a deep voice answering him back.

The curator of the Fort East Martello Museum and Robert the Doll's current caretaker gave an interview with Atlas Obscura, she said: “What people really remember is what they would probably term as an unhealthy relationship with the doll, He talked about it in the first person as if he weren’t a doll, he was Robert. As in he is a live entity.” Speaking about Robert Eugene Otto's relationship with his doll.

Robert the Doll Artist House
Robert Eugene Otto's childhood home where Robert the Doll would sit in the top window

Things quickly started to take a strange turn within the Otto household. According to the legend, Otto's parents would wake up in the middle of the night to find their petrified child screaming in his room whilst surrounded by overturned furniture.

As Robert Eugene Otto got older, the doll seemed to become more vicious, mutilated toys are said to have started appearing in the family home. Young Otto would scream to his parents that "Robert did it"

One day a plumber attended the property to carry out some maintenance work, he claimed to hear the clear sound of a child laughing, even though no one was in the property at the time.

The plumber looked around the room and saw that Robert the Doll had somehow moved from one side of the window to the other, he also claimed that items that had been sat on the doll's lap ended up on the opposite side of the room, giving the impression that the doll had thrown them across the room.

When Robert Eugene Otto got older he moved away and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago and the Art Students League in New York. He then went to the Parisian Sorbonne and met his wife, Anne.

Robert the Doll inspired Chucky
Robert the Doll, the real life "Chucky Doll"

Robert Eugene Otto brought his childhood doll back to his family doll at 534 Eaton Street in Key West, Florida.

Otto is said to have designed a special room in the attic of the property, specifically for the doll, complete with toys, furniture and even a teddy bear for Robert the Doll.

Anne, Otto's wife was not as fond of the doll as her husband was and requested the he kept it locked up.

The legend says that Robert the Doll was not keen on being locked away and often got himself out of his entrapment and sat himself in a chair that would face out of the upstairs window, many passers-by confirmed seeing the doll sat in the window of the house.

Locals would say how the doll would vanish and then reappear facing in the opposite direction, others would say how his stare would follow them as they walked passed. People who visited the house have also said how they often heard footsteps coming from the attic and things would move around the home on their own.

Fort East Martello Museum Robert the Doll
Robert the Doll is now kept in the Fort East Martello Museum

In 1974, Robert Eugene Otto died, a woman by the name of Myrtle Reuter bought the home, the doll was left in the property, which meant that Reuter became Robert the Dolls new owner.

Reuter kept Robert the doll for around 20 years, she even took him with her she moved to a new home in the 1980s.

In the end, Reuter donated Robert the Doll to the Fort East Martello Museum in 1994, confirming that the doll was definitely haunted.

The museum happily accepted the doll, thinking that Reuter's claims about the doll being haunted as nonsense.

Almost immediately after taking the doll, museum staff reported unexplainable strange happenings with the doll.

Now visitors flock from all over the US to catch a glimpse of Robert the Doll on display. Admirers and believers even write to Robert, some pray to him, some apologise for the way they looked at him upon a visit to the museum. Many visitors have claimed that bad things have happened to them after visiting the doll, the legend says that if you don't ask him for permission prior to taking a photograph you will be on the receiving end of misfortune. Since visitors were allowed to go and see Robert the Doll there have been countless stories of car crashed, health problems and mental health issues with those who have seen him.

Even today many visitors report strange happening and cameras malfunctioning whilst trying to catch a photo of him.

If you have every been to see Robert the Doll let us know in the comments below! If you enjoyed this story make sure you follow us on Facebook and we would recommend reading about the Letta Me Out haunted doll.


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