Meet Robert, The Haunted Doll That Inspired Chucky From 'Child's Play'

You'll never look at dolls the same again.

If you've ever seen '80s horror flick 'Child's Play', you'd be more than familiar with Chucky, the ginger-haired, homicidal doll that wreaks havoc by murdering his way across the neighbourhood.

And while those who were freaked out by the flick may find solace in the fact that it's just a movie, I regret to inform you that the inspiration behind the film's antagonist is far more terrifying than any movie could be.

The original Chucky from 'Child's Play'. Image: Getty

Yep, it turns out that the character of Chucky was actually based off a real-life haunted doll named Robert, who currently resides in the East Martello Museum, in Florida, U.S. where he is on display behind a layer of safety glass -- and for good reason.

With both 'Annabelle Comes Home' and the rebooted 'Child's Play' hitting the big screen shortly, possessed toys are again back in vogue -- and have reignited our morbid fear of dolls in the process.

READ MORE: Chucky's Back! Horror Classic 'Child's Play' Set To Be Remade By Producers Of 'It'

READ MORE: This Creepy-Ass Doll Is Definitely Haunted And You Can't Convince Me Otherwise

The History
Gene Otto as an adult. Image: Key West Art & Historical Society

It all began when a young man named Robert Eugene Otto received him as a gift around 1906. He instantly became besotted with the strange-looking toy, giving it his first name and insisting to his mother that he now be referred to as "Gene" -- because Robert the doll said so.

"What people really remember is what they would probably term as an unhealthy relationship with the doll,” Cori Convertito, a Robert the Doll expert said.

“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.”

Gene (left) and his family. Image: Key West Art & Historical Society

It wasn't long before strange incidents began to occur at the Otto household. Furniture would be found knocked over, toys would be found ripped apart, and reportedly, when the boy's parents would enter his room, they'd find Gene huddled on his bed, terrified.

Asking what had happened, he simply replied, “Robert did it.”

Robert Escalates
Image: Cayobo / Flickr

Strange incidents began occurring more often and soon an aunt who lived with the Otto family suggested that they move the doll to a locked box in the attic. The next night, the aunt was found dead in her bed.

While it could have been a sheer coincidence, the Ottos did not want to take any chances, opting to bring Robert out of the attic and back to Gene's room.

Later, as an adult, Gene inherited the family home and continued to take Robert wherever he went -- even setting him a spot at the family dinner table each night, which allegedly put a strain on his marriage to his wife.

After Gene died in 1974, a woman named Myrtle Reuter bought the house -- and with it, came Robert.

According to Reuter and friends who visited the house, the strange behaviour continued, with Reuter saying that they would hear footsteps and laughing.

They also said that Robert’s facial expression would change whenever his owner Gene was mentioned and believed he had the ability to move between different rooms of the house without explanation.

After 20 years of dealing with Robert's antics, in 1994 Reuter donated the doll to Key West’s Fort East Martello Museum, where he sits today encased behind glass.

Image: Trip Advisor
Robert's Rules

Robert remains a popular fixture on the museum's guest tour, however, attendees are told to greet the doll upon entering the room, and they must ask his permission if they wish to snap a photo -- or suffer the consequences.

Image: DeviantArt / breannabrebreanna

Robert's glass walls are covered with letters from both fans and previous visitors who have "disrespected" him, begging him for forgiveness after suffering bad luck (for not asking to take his photo), and asking Robert to have mercy on them.

Image: The Key West Art & Historical Society

One such letter reads, "Robert, Sorry I did not ask out loud to take your photo. Since then my husband lost his diamond (1 carat) out of his ring. I tore my rotator cuff and my daughter’s wedding was cancelled."

It continued, "All happened before I returned home. Please stop the curse I am truly sorry & life is tough enough! Sincerely, Kathy."

Another letter begs, “Please find it in your heart to forgive me, Robert."


'Child's Play' hits cinemas June 20, while 'Annabelle Comes Home' is out June 27.