More often than not, a child’s first best friend is a stuffed animal or doll. Unfortunately, when that doll is the possessed vessel of a homicidal maniac, the outcome isn’t all that sweet. In 1988’s CHILD’S PLAY, serial killer Charles Lee Ray is on the run from the police when he ducks into a toy store. There he uses voodoo to transfer his soul into a Good-Guy doll. For those of you with an aversion to evil dolls, you’ll be extremely distressed to learn that the story of Chucky bears a strong resemblance to the real story of Robert the Doll and is rumored to partial be based on the events.
Robert the doll was best friend to Robert Eugene Otto, of Key West, Florida. He was a three-foot straw-filled doll in a sailor’s suit who was a gift from one of the Otto family’s Bahamian servants given to the young boy in 1906. It is believed that this particular servant had been the victim of abuse at the hands of Gene’s parents. In an attempt to exact her revenge, the young servant used her extensive knowledge of voodoo to place a curse on the doll.
Robert and Eugene quickly became best friends. The doll accompanied Eugene everywhere, even garnering a place at the family dinner table. But that’s where the sweetness ends. It wasn’t long before Eugene’s parents started noticing some strange occurrences. Although they were used to hearing Eugene talk to Robert, it was a bit unnerving when they started hearing what they thought was Robert responding. At first, they believed that it was just Eugene changing his voice, however, they soon discovered this did not seem to be the case.
The longer Robert stayed with the Otto family the stranger events got. On several occasions, Eugene’s parents woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of furniture being thrown about their son’s room. When they entered, they would find young Eugene hiding in the corner afraid. He would promptly claim that “Robert did it”. Despite Robert’s “outbursts”, he still remained a close friend to Eugene, who grew up to become a notable writer and artist.
After Eugene’s parent’s death, he returned to the family home to find Robert locked away in the attic. Despite his wife’s protest, Eugene moved the doll from the attic and gave it a seat in the house by a window so he could see the street. Released from his attic prison, Robert began acting out once again. Pedestrians claimed to have seen the doll moving from room to room and peering out each window. Fed up with his antics, Eugene returned the doll to the attic.
Eugene died in 1974, afterwards Robert was locked away in a trunk and left in the attic. There it stayed until a new family moved in. The doll was discovered by the new family’s ten-year-old daughter who immediately fell in love with it. Without missing a beat, Robert was back to throwing furniture and terrifying his new family. Grounded once again, Robert was returned to the attic, once again avoiding the trash can for some reason.
Today Robert resides in the Key West Museum where he is on display behind a layer of safety glass. He is still a popular fixture, receiving frequent visitors. Unfortunately, Robert isn’t fond of photograph’s and has lashed out at those who have photographed him without permission. That’s why several visitors have also left apology letters to Robert which adorn the walls of his new home.