Robert the Doll: A Century-Old Tale of a Haunting

By Bob •  Updated: 06/03/23 •  5 min read

In the quaint town of Key West, Florida, a century-old tale continues to captivate the imaginations of locals and tourists alike.

The central figure of this tale is not a person, but a doll named Robert. This isn’t your ordinary toy, however. Robert the Doll, with his weathered sailor suit and piercing gaze, carries with him a legacy that transcends time.

This legacy is woven with threads of mystery, supernatural legends, and a sprinkle of dread. As we journey through the intriguing life of Robert the Doll, prepare yourself for a story that blurs the line between the natural and the supernatural, the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Robert the Doll Age

The Gift to Young Otto

The story of Robert the Doll begins over a century ago, in the year 1904. The doll was a birthday gift to a young boy named Robert Eugene Otto, who belonged to a prominent family in Key West, Florida. The doll, manufactured by the Steiff Company of Germany, was purchased by Otto’s grandfather during a trip to Germany. It was given to young Otto adorned in a sailor suit, likely an outfit that Otto wore as a child.

The Connection with Otto’s Childhood

Robert the Doll and Otto formed an unusual bond during Otto’s childhood. Otto was known to blame his misadventures on the doll, triggering the doll’s supernatural powers according to local folklore.

The Doll’s Life in the Otto Family Home

Living with the Otos

Robert the Doll remained in the Otto family home while Otto left to study art in New York and Paris. After marrying Annette Parker in Paris in 1930, Otto returned to the Key West family home where Robert the Doll remained a constant fixture.

The Passing of the Otos

Otto lived in the family home until his death in 1974, with his wife passing away two years later. After their deaths, the home, along with Robert the Doll, was sold to Myrtle Reuter.

The Doll’s Journey Post Otto Family

Moving to the East Martello Museum

In 1994, Robert the Doll was donated to the East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida. Here, the doll has remained a popular tourist attraction, annually rotated to the Old Post Office and Customhouse every October.

Travels Beyond Key West

Over the years, Robert the Doll has traveled outside Key West. In May 2008, it was exhibited at TapsCON, a convention hosted by The Atlantic Paranormal Society held in Clearwater, Florida. Later, in October 2015, the doll was taken to Las Vegas for a Travel Channel television program in Zak Bagans’ “Haunted Museum.”

The Legend of Robert the Doll

The Supernatural Abilities

Legend has it that Robert the Doll possesses supernatural abilities. The doll is said to move, change its facial expressions, and even make giggling sounds. Some claim that the doll moved voodoo figurines around the room and was aware of its surroundings.

The Consequences of Disrespecting Robert

Failing to respect Robert theDoll is said to result in a variety of misfortunes. From car accidents and broken bones to job loss and divorce, many believe that Robert the Doll has the power to cause these calamities. Even visitors to the museum where Robert is housed have reportedly experienced post-visit misfortunes for failing to respect him.

Robert the Doll in Popular Culture

The Doll in Horror Films

Robert the Doll has not only been a source of local legend but has also made its way into popular culture. A horror film franchise loosely based on the legend began with the film Robert, released in 2015. Four sequels followed: The Curse of Robert the Doll in 2016, The Toymaker in 2017, The Revenge of Robert the Doll in 2018, and Robert Reborn in 2019.

Appearances in Television Shows and Podcasts

The doll’s notoriety has also led to appearances on television and in podcasts. Robert the Doll and a replica doll appeared in the second season of Ozzy & Jack’s World Detour. The doll was also featured in an episode of the podcast and TV series Lore.

The Current Age of Robert the Doll

As of today, Robert the Doll is 117 years old and still resides at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, where he continues to attract curious visitors and paranormal enthusiasts alike.


Robert the Doll has become an enduring part of Key West folklore. From its early years with the Otto family to its current residence at the East Martello Museum, Robert’s story continues to captivate people around the world. Whether or not you believe in the supernatural abilities attributed to Robert, one thing is clear: Robert the Doll is a fascinating piece of history that will continue to intrigue us for years to come.


  1. What is the origin of Robert the Doll? Robert the Doll was a gift to Robert Eugene Otto in 1904, purchased by Otto’s grandfather during a trip to Germany.
  2. What supernatural abilities does Robert the Doll supposedly possess? Robert the Doll is said to move, change facial expressions, make giggling sounds, and cause various misfortunes to those who disrespect him.
  3. Where is Robert the Doll now? Robert the Doll is currently housed at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, Florida.
  4. How old is Robert the Doll? As of now, Robert the Doll is 117 years old.
  5. Has Robert the Doll appeared in popular culture? Yes, Robert the Doll has appeared in a series of horror films, television shows, and podcasts.