Thursday, October 28, 2010

Robert The (Devil) Doll: A Case of Tourism Motivated Fabrication and Superstitious Irrationality

Robert The (Devil) Doll: A Case of Tourism Motivated Fabrication and Superstitious Irrationality

Robert the doll is a supposedly haunted/possessed doll that resides in Key West, Florida. If you want to read the whole spooky tale, you can do so HERE.

So, legend has it that this cursed doll is malevolent, and can speak, move around, and bring harm to people. Many people believe this, and the stories that have propagated about this doll over the years are of course varied and delightfully spooky.....and of course, untrue.

Here's some information from someone who has some experience with Robert the Devil Doll (written in her words, so any grammatical or spelling errors are hers, not mine, as is any credit given for discoveries or insights....I'm just reposting it):

In truth, Robert the doll is no where near as scary as legend has it. He is odd looking I will grant you. Last October my husband and I were in Key West and I knew about Robert and decided to go check him out. He is not in his original house, he is in a museum, that at this time I cannot think of the name of. I am sure it could be easily found by doing a search.. I thought the museum itself was far more creepy than Robert.

We actually got lucky and we were able to touch Robert and even take off his hat and look at his head minus the hat. The reason we got lucky was, we had called the day before to check times for the museum and ask about Robert, and a very nice lady told us, Robert is not here today. He is somewhere downtown with the Mayor as it was some kind of Mayoral speech or something going on. She said, check back tomorrow, by then he should be back.. So we did just that. We called the next morning and she told us, "yes he is back but he is not in his glass enclosure, he is sitting right here next to me in his chair" She said if you come down here soon you will be able to see him out of his glass display case, because I have to wait for the guys to come and put him in it. I guess it was quite the process of putting him his glass display case.

So sure enough we go to the museum on our rented scooters, early in the morning and there was Robert sitting right there next to the lady docent at the desk. She was a really nice lady, and she said Robert never bothered her a bit. We asked if we could take pictures of Robert as he was outside of his case, and she said sure!. So we did. She even let us take off his hat and look at him closely..

It was kinda fun to do this and get lucky to find him out of his case.. I really dont think there is anytihing paranormal about Robert, though I know a lot think there is. The lady docent did not think so either. Nothing happened to us for the worse but maybe something for the better did. We happened to be in Key West when one of the hurricanes was threatenting to bear down on Key West. All visitors had to mandatorily evacuate. That were staying in commercial hotels. We were in a private bed and breakfast and the owner. told us we did not have to evacuate like the other commercial hotels. due to it being private. We had a flight out the next day so were not too worried..

Lo and behold that night my son called us from our home state and said the airline called him and told him that our flight was cancelled due to the hurricane. This was about midnight.... We flew into a bit of a panic and started looking for alternative ways off the island. We tried to find a rental car, there were none to be found, as everyone was fleeing. Any available flights were charging truely insane prices to get out of there.. I do mean prices in the thousands of dollars per person. We were at our wits ends, when all of a sudden my husband got a hold of this one representative from the airline we were suppposed to fly back on and they said. "No problem, we will fly you back for free" We could not quite believe it.

Sure enought we went to the airport and they were good on thier word. We got home safe and sound, no extra charge. Thankfully after we were home we did keep track of the storm and Key West was fortunate to not have suffered too much damage from the storm. There is apparently some story of a nun who prayed many years ago to keep Key West safe in storms.. The people of Key West believe it. Though we did see all the shopkeepers boarding up etc.. the locals were all in good spirits in the bars etc. partying and carrying on with not a care in the world. So I guess one makes of it what they will.

I think in this case. Robert gave us good luck as opposed to bad luck.. But trust me in real life up close he really is not scary in any way.. The docent at the museum agrees. However the rest of the buildings in the museum are somewhat creepy. Not in a bad way but definately creepy.. I love Key West and all it's weirdness. But, Robert! Nah.. he is not creepy. He is just a legend around one of Key Wests many eccentric people.

The lady we spoke to at the museum, who has worked there in the building alone if there are no tourists in there said she was not in the least bit worried and that she had never experienced anything odd at all. She personally has never seen evidence of movement or anything else. She seems to the think the whole story very enteraining to say the least. She did say that when some film crews had been to the museum on occassions and certain ex employees of the museum were interviewed they somewhat embellished thier stories a little.

Like I said a few posts back we were fortunate to get to see Robert out of his glass case and touch him and she even let me take his hat off to see his hair, which by the way did not look anything like human hair as some have mentioned. It looked more like some sort of wool yarn type substance. The texture was far to thick to be human hair.

I got the distinct impression after chatting with this woman for quite sometime, that the whole enigma around Robert is fabricated in some way. I left feeling quite certain that the woman felt the same way. She has been working there for something like 11 years. Like I said she is often alone in the building. I really don't think she would be working there if Robert was really doing creepy things. I think tourism is key with the Robert story. They even have a Robert the Doll festival day celebrated by tourists and locals alike, that has turned into some huge festival every year.

Food for thought!


Ooooh, Terrifying.....
Now, here's a claim made by homeowners that reside(d) in the house in which Robert 'lived:'
"Owner Cox tells of other disturbances in the house Ñ of pictures that fly off the walls, for example. He once saw the door of a book cabinet spring open for no visible reason. Sometimes doors won't open. Sometimes they open when they shouldn't."

Spooky, right? Oooohhhh, obviously haunted.

Or.....maybe not.....

From someone on the same forum on which the previous information was posted:

“Actually just read this and talked to my dad because I heard that the Artist house swayed alot and I remember them telling me about they had problems keeping the wall paper from crinkling and such so the walls were made of Canvas so they moved and they put the wallpaper on it so it would flex instead of crinkling. Unless it was changed since our knowledge it could be why the pictures flew off the walls. Fun lil fact for ya.”

So, a house haunted by a cursed doll, or architectural problems? Which seems more likely?

It's obvious which is most likely true, and it's crazy (and sad) how many people are truly convinced of, and terrified by, things of this nature when there's always a perfectly benign, rational explanation for the occurrences. Amazing how much irrationality and emotional upheaval could be cured with some basic reasoning and explanation. Just like the religious idea of hell. Imagine the real torment some peopel endure thinking their loved one(s) are literally roasting in hell! All for nothing!

Robert the Doll is a tourism draw in an area that lacks much of anything to draw tourists (and their dollars). Of COURSE the locals are going to have tons of tales to tell anyone interested enough to listen. The more spooky the mythos, the more interested the patron.

Just think though: If the thing was really cursed/haunted/possessed.....would they keep it in a fucking museum? Would they allow people to go see it? Would anyone want to work in the vicinity of this thing? Would the town's mayor really want to spend a day with it?

The answer to all of those questions is a resounding OF COURSE NOT!

The only thing afoot in that town is the lies being propagated for monetary gain.

That all being said, these sorts of stories are always very interesting, and this one is no exception.


  1. I must admit that I find these subjects interesting. Likely because of growing up watching horror films with my mom.

    I tend to prefer things like the Paulding Light because it is something seen nearly every night, but aren't explained yet. I'm sort of drawn to the unknown.

    By the way since were on this subject I've got to share a story I blogged about recently.

    My friend Dynamite and his wife are into ghosts and decided to go ghost hunting for their anniversary. While he was researching the area he discovered something none of us knew. This is what he found.

    [quote]So a couple of years ago, I was driving down Ladoga Rd. by the Sunflower shop. It was Halloween night I was with my dad. We both looked over to the left and saw a very pale man with long black hair and a black trench coat walking the same way we were driving. We came to the intersection by the Sunflower shop and went straight the man to the left as we were picking up speed he was too. Then me and my dad looked at each other and I quickly turned back and the man was gone and we have no idea where he went. We went looking around and he was no where to be found.[/quote]


    I'm sure most of you have no idea how that is a discovery worthy of being mentioned, but I can assure you it caught Dynamite's attention and he shared it with everyone. You see he knew the ghost that was described here and so do you, for that ghost is me.

    It so obviously me that everyone who read it immediately said it was me and it is my favorite Internet discovery so far. I think very pale is a bit of a stretch, but everything else fits. Especially if you take into consideration the fact that I am hyper and prone to run around and had such a knack for disappearing that I earned the nickname Night Flyer. Plus being mistaken for a ghost is better then when I was mistaken for a homeless woman.

  2. Damn I didn't know the bb coding wouldn't work. Sorry about that. I would fix it, but I don't see an edit option either.

  3. HAHAHAHAHAAHA. I was thinking that it was probably some guy who was drunk or drugged up and just wandering around lost/scared/confused. T of ind out it was YOU is freaking hilarious!!!

    You must have PISSED yourself laughing when you heard this one!

  4. Damn it I think you just reinforced the cop's reasoning behind stopping me all of the time for looking suspicious. I did however find it very amusing, but I was able to control my bladder.

    Part of me kind of wishes the story would have caught on locally. It would be kind of cool to become a part of lore even in anonymity.

  5. You could probably help spread it. Start with Digg, maybe make a Youtube video and spread it around GT, it should catch on. I'll help spread it via this blog (not that I have a huge audience but 20-50 hits a day is something at least).

  6. Oh, and IO think from now on your nickname should be "WWWHHHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!" Say that while waving your arms around.

  7. I ain't ever heard of this doll thang before, but it don't surprise me. Other than Miami and Broward County, pretty much all of Florida is filled with fuckin' weird people. It's like my hood is an anti-stupid fortress like the Emerald City from Wizard of Oz, and outside its walls is nothing but flying monkeys.

  8. Lol, what do you have against flying monkeys?

    I find that comment and the insinuations made to be insulting to my hairy, flying brethren, and I demand a reount!!

  9. I wish everyone was more rational, and could see an obvious fraud and hysterical nothingness for what it was.....

  10. LOL I was the "ghost" of Tybee Island beach for a few months. Wishful thinking must be deep in the amygdala. Having said that, I am from Florida and lived in Key West for quite a while. The Artist's House is no more shaky, creaky or weird than any other Victorian pastiche built in a place where the heat and the humidity usually hover in the 90s. I even cleaned the museum as a college kid and sadly, Robert never pinched my backside or anything. Another legend gone POOF ;-)

  11. Thanks for the comment, very interesting.

    Did Robert ever ask you for a smoke or a bottle of something or another?


  12. I wish I could say more, but I can't because I love this town and the people in it, but let's just say that they rely on tourists not being as smart as you are...

  13. I'm 11 and I believe the story of Robert, call me stupid but I can think what I want. I mainly believe the curse of Robert partly because of all the letters:)

  14. I'm not going to call you stupid! I will, however, ask you if you believe that it's more likely that people are either mistaken, hysterical, liars, gullible, etc, and the story is simply untrue, or that there's a haunted demon doll being kept in a museum which allows people to pay money (hint hint) to look at it (it of course being a hunted demon

  15. What is the size of Robert the Doll? I've looked him up and by far the most creepy thing is that he appears to be a very large-sized doll, like 1 to 2 feet high. I thought he was only 8" or so when I saw a picture of the doll on Tumblr.

  16. I wonder when this haunting event started getting public attention. I lived in the house for a short time over 30 years ago (1980) . I never heard about this haunting doll until last week. A fellow worker and I were doing some painting renovation. He stayed..and slept soundly upstairs and I was downstairs and neither heard, felt, or saw anything out of the ordinary Sorry about the skepticism but maybe one has to be told that ghosts are visiting before one can experience them ??? Maybe the owner I worked for knew about it,( or started it?)

  17. "maybe one has to be told that ghosts are visiting before one can experience them?

    Great point and yes, that's ABSOLUTELY part of it. It's like those ghost voice videos with subtitles. You're leading people to hear certain things. Without the subtitles, some people hear either nothing or different words. Not everyone, but a definite percentage. The level of agreement is certainly different with no subs vs. subs.

  18. Thanks for the reply

  19. Hopefully you'll grow out of it.

  20. Now im no where near the area so i dont know, but i would appreciate some help and a swaying 100 year old victorian house in extremely humid conditions isnt cutting it, im sure the was no more structurally unsound than any other house and what of the eye wittness accounts not at the museum but in the houses and what of the second family that owned the doll and had experiences with it can they be questioned? Now im not goin to go cry if its fake and i do belive in paranormal stuff just need some clarification on whats bullshit in life and whats accountable.

  21. Honestly, I cannot disprove anything to 100% certainty. I mean, for all I know, there could be something paranormal out there. I really, really, really doubt it, but who knows, right? The problem is, this doll is definitely not it. Just look at the story in the context of where it originated and how it is utilized and you should get a clear idea of what's really what in that town.

  22. I am Robert.

    You're all going to die.

  23. Everyone dies, Robert. Any more mindblowing predictions, oh evil one?

  24. You're going to die in 3 ... 2 ... 1

    And I'm not evil, I'm just misunderstood.

  25. You are so full of shit!!!!

  26. Very interestasing & logical account of Robert. Thanks!

    Re: "Curses"? Random & horrible things DO happen, sadly. Humans are naturally prone to pattern-seeking (it was evolutionarily beneficial to associate growls with mountain lions, bad smells with spoilt food, etc...; patterns are still pleasant for most {ie. The "formulas" for the most-loved of contemporary Pop Songs, Movies, & TV Shows rarely differ} & even habitual {think O.C.D.}) & we'll suspend logic to find causation if only for a semblance of control. CURSED? Well, then we can concentrate upon becoming "un-cursed" via unconventional, ritualised, &/or magical methods, & then we won't Have to accept that sometimes the horrors that befall us are completely random, terrifying, & totally out of our control.

    Despite my science-minded skepticism? Still wouldn't want to cuddle him in bed at night!

  27. First Key West was the home of Ernest Hemingway. I would think seeing where he lived would be of interested in him and great writing. "Robert the Doll" is in the Fort Martello museum. Just the fact he is over 100 years old and is an antique would I suspect would make some tourists want to see the toy. He is an historical object. His clothes are that of a sailor of the early 20th century. The Martello museum was a fort during the Civil War. It includes original civil war items. OTOH I would ask his permission to photogram him. Just joking.

  28. David L. Sloan writes in his book "Robert the Doll" that the toy was originally a clwon doll from the "Steiff" toy catalogue. There was never any black magic, curses, Voodoo involved in his origin.


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