The Curse of Robert the Doll

Posted by on March 11, 2013
Last Updated: August 15, 2017
The Curse of Robert the Doll

In 1906, young Robert Eugene Otto received a doll from his family’s servant.

It was, at first blush, unremarkable: a doll of wire, cloth and straw, with beige skin and human-like hair. It wore an outfit similar to that of an American Naval officer.

But the doll held an ominous secret that would reveal itself in time.

You see, legend has it that the Otto family, who lived in Key West, Florida, weren’t kind to their servants. One servant, a Bahamian woman, grew tired of her mistreatment.

Some say she was skilled in voodoo and black magic. As an act of revenge, she infused a doll with dark spirits, and cursed it with hatred. She crafted it with human blood and hair, and stuffed it with rags soaked in the liquid of the dead. It was this doll she bestowed upon young Robert.

A terrible gift.

A Haunted Soul

Robert the Doll: A Haunted Soul
Image: Flickr/Cayobo via CC by SA 2.0

Robert Eugene Otto, unaware of its sordid history, took to the doll almost immediately.

He named it Robert, after himself (he actually went by his middle name, Gene). His parents would hear him late at night conversing with Robert the Doll, and sometimes — perhaps it was their imaginations, or was that strange, guttural voice really coming from their son? — they could hear the doll speaking back.

Gene would go on to blame Robert the Doll for countless strange occurrences. Plates falling from tables, lamps falling from walls. Torn clothing and misplaced objects littered throughout the house.

His parents, when reprimanding him, would simply be met with the reply, “Robert did it.”

Eventually, Gene grew older and traveled to Paris to pursue a career in art. He got married, and life went on. However, when he and his wife returned and moved back into his old Victorian home in Key West, Gene made special accommodations for the doll. It was still very important to him.

He constructed a small room in the third floor turret, scaled perfectly for Robert’s size. He placed small furniture inside. Robert sat in a chair, motionless. Most of the time, of course.

Allegedly, neighbors would claim they could see Robert the Doll through the third-floor windows, moving from room to room. The sound of laughter occasionally echoed throughout the house, as well, glimpses of shadows as the doll made its nightly walkabouts.

In 1974, Gene died and Anne moved away. But Robert remained, and the strange occurrences continued to be reported by new occupants and utility workers.

Unexplained footsteps, strange noises, laughter. Some would turn their backs on the strange little doll, and it would have moved, just slightly, when they looked again.

The Curse of Robert the Doll Continues

The doll was lost in time, packed away by nervous occupants who couldn’t bare to keep it in plain sight. It eventually surfaced again, however, when a new family found the doll in the attic.

Their 10-year-old daughter welcomed the old doll, becoming its new owner. But she, too, would learn of its secret terrors. She would scream in the night, shouting that Robert was moving. On at least one occasion, she claims (to this day, in fact), that the doll tried to kill her.

Robert the Doll was ultimately given to the East Martello Museum, where it has been on display — locked behind glass — ever since.

For two weeks every year, it’s brought to the Custom House in Key West, where visitors may have a look for themselves.

Robert the Doll: The Curse
Image: Flickr/Cayobo via CC by SA 2.0

A word of caution, however:

You may be wondering about all those notes and papers pinned to the wall in this photograph.

Before taking a picture of Robert the Doll when he is on display, each person must first ask for his permission. If his head tilts, that means permission has not been granted.

Those letters were sent to the museum by people who dared to tempt the curse of Robert the Doll, who didn’t ask for permission. They contain true testimonies of the bad luck and misfortune that followed.

In those letters, they ask for forgiveness.


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About the Author Post by Rob Schwarz Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.
  • Goutham satheesh


    • Robert

      Don’t disrespect me like that.

  • Linux Master Race


  • Katie

    I’m sorry Robert.

  • Charlotte didcott

    Robert I am sorry if me or my family offended you in any way.

  • Fat Albert

    Truth is ., you NEVER mess with the supernatural! You have NO control over that stuff! My aunt was into voodoo. When she died, we came into possession of a wall decoration. It was one of those pieces that consisted of a wooden frame, a candle in a glass, and a little mirror. Just above the glass was a neatly carved wooden face. When we put that thing in the house, you could feel this eerie “force and presence” that came from it. Then the freak accidents started to occur. And the nightmares. We sent this object to John Zaffis ( NO return address! ) and instructed him to lock the object in a box PERMANENTLY! Upon getting rid of this decorative wall piece, all the freaky accidents stopped, and the awful eerie feelings went away! My assessment of “Robert” is this: The only SAFE way to even “look” upon him is through pictures posted online! That cursed doll may be even more dangerous than Ed and Lorraine Warren’s doll “Annabel!!!”

  • phishy

    I either have a cursed hat, or fishing is a dangerous activity. My great grandfather and grandfather both died while fishing, wearing the same hat. Luckily, I don’t fish and the hat doesn’t fit me.

  • Megan

    I’m sorry Robert.

  • carl

    Im sorry robert.

  • Erik J.

    Robert, I apologize for viewing a photograph of you without your permission.

  • Laura Elizabeth

    I believe in you Robert. Just wanted to learn more about your legend. Truly Sorry I didn’t ask first

  • Laura

    Im sorry Robert, please forgive me.

  • Matt

    Robert I


    I am sorry I viewed pictures of you online and read your story please forgive me.


  • Kierstyn


    I’m so so sorry I watched your video… It won’t happen again I’m sorry please forgive me..

    I’m sorry, Robert.


  • Ted

    Robert, I’m sorry I didn’t ask your permission. I was just learning about you. Please forgive me.

  • Car

    Hi Robert, I am sorry I viewed your pictures online without your permission. Just wanted to learn about your story

  • Cece

    I’m sorry Robert for read your story and view your photos without your permission, I’m really sorry.

  • SoaR Acid

    Plz forgive me Robert I saw your pic online plz forgive me

  • SoaR Acid

    Again am super sorry Robert

  • Saikat Banerjee

    I’m sorry Robert I saw your picture online and read about you, just wanted to learn about you. I’m really sorry.

  • Angela

    I’m sorry Robert, I came across your story and pictures online and wish to respect you.

  • Jack Ellis

    I am sorry Robert, I just wanted to know more about you

  • claudia

    We are sorry Robert we just wanted to get to know more about you.

  • Risanas

    Sorry Robert I like to read up about scary things and you came up in my search, I apologize for reading up about you online. You are very interesting 🙂

  • Jennifer

    I’m sorry for reading about you, Robert. Please forgive me.

  • Ashley

    I’m very sorry, Robert, for viewing photographs of you online, reading information about you, and almost watching the YouTube video about you that did not have permission. I hope you can forgive me for my curiosity.

  • Timothy

    I’m very sorry Robert, I’m just interested in your story. Please forgive me.

  • Marcus

    I am sorry Robert for looking at pictures and videos of you without permission I was just interested about you. I am very sorry.

  • Amor Y Lucha Libre

    Sorry Robert for looking into your story more without your permission. You are quite the handsome fellow and I didn’t know i couldn’t look you up online. I honestly thought it was just taking a picture, so please forgive me.

  • Jacob

    Sorry for reading about you, watching videos and viewing pictures of you without your permission. Please forgive me Robert.

  • Marcus

    I’m sorry Robert for viewing pictures of you without permission I was just interested in your story. I’m sorry

  • Samantha San Nicolas

    I sorry Robert for looking at you history and pictures, and looking you up online, Please for give me.

  • Theodore Purnell

    Im sorry, Robert, I didnt know I wasn’t supposed to look you up. I just wanted to learn about you and your story.

  • Faham Tak

    I’m sorry Robert that I looked you up and viewed videos of you without your permission, I just wanted to know more about you, I hope you can forgive me.

  • Jonathan Sanders

    Im sorry Robert for not asking for permission first I hope you will forgive me youre very extraordinary

  • Andrea Polits

    I sorry Robert for looking at you history, pictures, looking you up online, and watching videos about you. Please for give me.

  • Nesa

    Hi, Robert. I am very sorry for looking you up and reading about you without your permission. Please forgive me

  • Wendy

    I’m sorry Robert for looking you up, forgive me.

  • Conor

    Hi Robert, I’m truly sorry for looking you up, please forgive me

  • Mike P.

    I am truly sorry Robert for looking you up online and looking at the history,pictures and other things related to you. I am just very interested in you and your story and relationship with Gene
    Please forgive me.

  • Ana Cass

    I’m sorry Robert for reading about you and watching videos about you without your permission. Please forgive me.

  • kat ellen

    Sorry Robert for searching you up. I did not realise you may not like it until after. Please accept my apologies

  • Emma H

    Dear Robert,
    I’m sorry for looking you up online. I had no idea that you wouldn’t like that. I should have asked for permission. Please forgive me.
    Kind regards and best wishes 🙂

  • Julie Stamps

    Dear Robert,
    May you find peace within and only respect. I’m sorry for looking you up online without permission. Please accept my apologies. I wish only the best and kind regards.

  • Keandra Po

    I’m sorry Robert for reading about you. Please be kind And accept my apologies.

  • Beatrice Dominguez

    Yes sorry Robert for looking you up without your permission

  • Megan Hash

    I’m sorry Robert, I didn’t realize I wasn’t allowed to look you up, I hope you can forgive me

  • Uriel

    Sorry Robert I’m truly sorry for looking you up with out your permission, please do accept my apologies.

  • skye

    Robert, im sorry we looked you up without permission. Please accept our apologies