You may have heard of Robert the Doll, arguably one of the world’s most famous haunted dolls, currently residing in Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida. At first glance, you would see Robert for what he is. A doll created in the early late 1800’s/early 1900’s, wearing a little sailor’s suit, holding a dog, with a sinister looking smirk on his face. We would consider a doll as an inanimate object – however this doll is a little different. The doll is allegedly possessing a curse, that makes the doll come to life, even causing divorce, disease, and death.
So what is Robert the Doll’s story? The doll first belonged to Robert Eugene Otto – a gift from his grandfather during childhood following a trip to Germany. At first, the relationship between Otto and the doll appeared very innocent – it is not out of the ordinary for a young child to become attached to one toy in particular and take it everywhere with them. But Otto really was inseparable from Robert the doll, and Otto’s parents even recalled hearing Robert talking to the doll (once again completely ordinary for a child of his age), however were worried to hear a deep voice answering their son back. Almost nightly, Otto’s parents would hear their son shouting, furniture overturning, and toys being ripped apart. Whenever they entered his bedroom, Otto could be found huddled in the corner of his room or under his covers, shaken and frightened. If asked what had happened, Otto’s only response would be ‘Robert did it’.
Eventually, when the situation became too strange, and the parents finally dismissed the idea that this was simply their young son acting out and blaming the doll, Robert the doll was banished to the attic of the family home by an aunt – an aunt who passed away that very same night. Servants who worked in the home would then promptly leave their jobs, and during the night footsteps and the sound of furniture moving could be heard from the attic. The doll could even occasionally be heard giggling. After many years passed and Otto finally entered adulthood, Otto chose to keep Robert and kept him on the windowsill of his house – despite the obvious fear he had of Robert during childhood. People walking past the property or looking up at the window at which Robert sat often reported seeing the doll move, or vanish before their eyes. Otto’s wife, also, like the aunt in his childhood home, insisted the doll be moved into the attic. Strangely, Otto declined his wife’s request, instead keeping Robert in the Turret room of the house, where he often would sit with the doll, and talking to him until his death in 1974.
After Otto’s death, Robert was moved to a museum, and kept inside a locked glass case. Unfortunately, that has not been enough to put Robert’s antics to rest. Museum staff say that Robert moves around within the case, and that when closing up the empty museum for the night, footsteps can be heard. Visitors are even given advice on how they should approach the case where Robert now resides – being told to address him politely, not to photograph him, and to treat him respectfully. Many visitors come away from the museum and experience bad luck and unsettling experiences. Guests send letters of apology to Robert, detailing the misfortunes that have cropped up in their lives since their encounter with Robert, and the museum displays and keeps a record of all of these, with Robert even being blamed for divorces, car accidents and deaths.
Would you be brave enough to pay Robert the doll a visit?