I snapped a photo of Robert The Doll before reading that he puts curses on anyone who takes his photograph. Uh oh. Surely it’s just a myth, I thought. Curious, I began reading about the doll’s history. In 1903, Robert was given to four-year old Gene Otto, who lived in Key West. As Gene grew up he blamed everything bad that happened on the doll. By the time Gene was married, Robert had taken the blame for a lifetime of lies, misdeeds, and mischief.
Some say Robert’s face had begun to change by the time Gene died in 1974, that his eyes grew more expressive. People insisted that the doll moved around and could be heard giggling behind their backs. Many who came in contact with Robert experienced bad luck, as if the doll was getting even for all the years he had been made a scapegoat. The curse of Robert The Doll grew into such a well-known legend in Key West that whenever things went wrong, locals would simply shrug and say, “Blame it on Robert.” But Robert’s real fame came when the “Chucky” horror film series (Child’s Play, Child’s Play 2, Child’s Play 3, Bride of Chucky, Seed of Chucky, etc.) came out, as they were said to have been modeled on the real-life story of Robert the Doll.
There are many theories about why Robert behaves the way he does. Some believe it is an ancient curse. Others say it is voodoo. Still others insist that Gene Otto’s ghost has returned to the doll whom he loved so much. The museum cats seem to believe in Robert’s dark powers – they keep their distance when staring up at the glass case in East Martello Museum where Robert is enthroned. People, on the other hand, tend to doubt the legend, and have suffered the consequences. Letters scattered at Robert’s feet and tacked up on an adjacent wall are testimonials from dozens of unbelievers who were cursed by Robert The Doll, such as this one:
Since our visit to the museum, we’ve been under a dark cloud.
I began to develop a rather severe toothache. Two days later, Hurricane Charly cut our vacation short and we joined the parade of evacuees leaving the islands. We were evacuated from our vacation spot three days early with my mouth in tremendous pain. My sister-in-law was also having female health issues. We were all forced to make alternate travel arrangements on the run.
My sister-in-law lives in Clearwater. After a problem laden and horrendous trip, she finally got home, only to be evacuated from there too. She packed up her two cats and headed for her parents house in Winter Haven and ended up in the middle of the storm there. They lost power for two days.
When we arrived in Miami for our flight back to Indianapolis, the plane broke and they had to “find” a different one for us. The following day, back in Indiana, I went to the dentist to learn that my tooth had abscessed and I had to have a root canal.
Last night we had a huge thunderstorm. Our house was hit by lightning – not once, but TWICE! We were unplugging things, but not fast enough. We lost three TV’s and a large satellite dish. The first hit, which sounded like a gunshot in the house, took one large TV and the satellite dish, and the second hit got two more TV’s. Again, the sound was horribly frightening.
Please do me a favor and tell Robert that we did not mean to anger or offend him and we’re sorry if we did. His photo did turn out good, so he sat very nicely for me. Would he like it back?
Battle Ground, Indiana
As for me, well, Robert and I were introduced several days ago and so far I’ve suffered no ill effects. But then, I’m not taking any chances. Like the cats, I choose to believe.