Robert the Doll’s haunting tale makes Chucky seem like an actual toy
Over the decades, Hollywood has seen its fair share of horror films about possessed dolls. From Child’s Play to Dead Silence, audiences can’t look at dolls the same way again. Before the Hollywood takeover, there was one doll that ruined people’s lives forever.
You’re my best friend
Robert the doll was originally created in Germany’s Steiff Company. The company was owned by Richard Steiff, who created the teddy bear. With such an influential person at the helm, you wouldn’t expect any flaws in their products. In 1906, Robert Eugene Otto, who was simply known as Gene, was given a gift from his grandfather. It was a doll manufactured by the Steiff company.
Gene, who lived in Key West, Florida with his family, fell in love with the doll. Like most kids, he brought Robert everywhere he went. He even dressed it up in a nice sailor outfit. Unfortunately, his parents quietly saw his demeanor shift into an obsessed one. “What people really remember is what they would probably term as an unhealthy relationship with the doll. He brought it everywhere, 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,” Robert’s caretaker Cori Convertito told Atlas Obscura.
What’s that doll doing?
Weeks after having the doll, things at the house drastically changed. Things were suddenly broken and moved around. Gene’s parents immediately assumed their son was the culprit behind this behavior. Gene did what every child would do in that position: he blamed it on the doll. Angered by his actions, Gene’s parents hid the doll from him. When the family made the move to France, Robert was left in the house.
In 1930, Gene got married to Annette Parker and wanted to move back to the States. With Robert in his mind, he checked to see if his childhood house was on sale. Fortunately, it was, and he had cash in hand to buy it. After moving in, Gene reunited with Robert, and it was like two bros having a get-together. Annette was a bit jealous of the attention a doll was getting. In 1974, Gene died in his home. When Gene was discovered, Robert was found with its hands on his neck. Saddened by the loss, Annette sold the house and moved back to France.
For the world to see
Myrtle Reuter bought the house, but they had no idea of the carnage that would happen. For 20 years, Robert spooked Myrtle and her guests. A handful of people stated that Robert’s face would change when someone talked smack about Otto. A few individuals have found Robert with a knife in its hand.
In 1994, Myrtle brought Robert to the East Martello Museum five miles away. Upon hearing about the stories, people flocked to see the doll in person. Everyone can still feel its spooky presence today. Many have apologized to Robert for disrespecting Gene. Others have found themselves with a string of bad luck after seeing Robert. In 2015, a movie about Robert was released through North Bank Entertainment. The film was followed up with three sequels, including 2018’s The Revenge of Robert the Doll.
So, is Robert actually haunted? To Convertito, that still remains to be seen. “I don’t know. I really don’t. I’ve never had a bad experience with him. I’ve never felt uncomfortable. It’s always been a very basic relationship and I have a job to do and I go and do it. And whether there’s something to it or not, he just allows me to get on with my job,” she told Atlas Obscura. Whether Robert is haunted or not, the legend will live on through B movies and obsessed fans.