Ep. 16: An Undiagnosed Wizard: Robert the Doll
Does this life size doll have a life of its own, cursing those who get in its way? Or is he just an old doll with a hell of a lot of creep factor? Come listen as Emma tries to explain and Shannon cries in this episode on Key West's Robert the Doll.
Speaker A: Hello. Hi, I'm Emma. I'm Shannon and welcome to this podcast doesn't exist.
Speaker B: I wasn't sure if you wanted me to say it.
Speaker A: I don't know why I paused.
Speaker B: Dramatic pause. Yeah, like PBS Masterpiece Theater presents, this podcast doesn't exist. The Bridgeton version. Uh that's crazy.
Speaker A: I finally did watch Bridgeton, you guys. But now you can talk to me about it.
Speaker B: I was also obsessed with it.
Speaker A: It's great.
Speaker B: It's similarly with the spoon. You know what we mean?
Speaker A: Honestly, first of all, just the fantasy of being in that time period the way that these people are in that time period. Like wealthy. Oh uh yeah.
Speaker B: I would not want to be poor.
Speaker A: In any point of history, I guess. But also like distinctly dirty London streets kind of thing.
Speaker B: Yeah. We don't focus on the plumbing in the bridges.
Speaker A: No, not at all. We don't talk about the balls and the teas, the Dukes and the Duchesses. Anyway, I'm going to need you to buckle in because it is currently 915 at night when we are recording this. And I may Boobie Dookie.
Speaker B: I don't like the way you said that. Can I just say I was having this thought when we were prepping to start this episode that today's recording session entirely takes me back to like sophomore year College chaotic energy.
Speaker A: You're welcome.
Speaker B: Because I just feel like this is.
Speaker A: Very College of us.
Speaker B: Not that we procrastinated all day, but.
Speaker A: No, we were working.
Speaker B: We took a little TikTok break. We didn't stop for lunch.
Speaker A: It was also a very momentous day. Today the day we are recording is uh Inauguration Day and we watched America's very first female vice President, uh Asian vice President and African American vice President sworn in. Joe Biden was there too, but he fully understands the position he has is slightly secondary to Kamala Harris. But uh in any case, we're very excited. My mom is very excited. She is currently sitting in a ballgown on her couch, apparently wearing a tiara. Has she sent photos? No, I'm sure they're on Facebook, but I'm never on Facebook.
Speaker B: That's fair.
Speaker A: Yeah, but she's very excited. We are very excited. It was a very momentous day. So um we took some time to get to this point. So now it is 915 and I'm going to tell you something spooky.
Speaker B: Alright, well hold on, let me double Power Ranger style buckle in.
Speaker A: All right. Today my friend, you're talking about Robert the doll.
Speaker B: Uh i don't like the sound of that.
Speaker A: Not one bit. A young boy named Robert developed an attachment to his toy, taking it with him everywhere. It started to take over his life and has now taken over others. But does this life size doll uh have a life of its own?
Speaker B: Why is it lifesize?
Speaker A: We'll get there. So this doll, his name is Robert and he is 3ft tall and about £6. Um he is dressed in a sailor suit complete with hat. He is stuffed with what is called wood wool which is basically heavily milled straw and wood shavings, which, like, what happens if that, you know how pillows will get.
Speaker B: Yeah, they're very humid.
Speaker A: Yeah.
Speaker B: Also, why do you have to ruin.
Speaker A: The Navy for me? Oh, I'm sorry. It looks like a turn of the century sailor suit that they would wear. Yeah, but not as cute and with pants.
Speaker B: Well, thank God for swinging over.
Speaker A: Goodness. All right, so his pockmarked face has the remnants of clown paint blushing his cheeks. His black button eyes stare blankly. And tucked under his arm is a toy of his own, a stuffed animal that is either a lion, a dog or a bear. It's not really consistent. I'm going to show you a picture, Robert.
Speaker B: Uh i don't want it.
Speaker A: What do you think that stuffed animal is? First of all, it looks unhinged to me, um but lion, you can kind of see. Dog, you can kind of see. I don't get bear. The vibe of uh this stuffed animal feels familiar to me. Oh, that's creepy. No, but the dog doesn't creep me out.
Speaker B: The sailor boy, it freaks me out.
Speaker A: Yeah.
Speaker B: I feel like the dog. I feel like this is the second reference I've made with this franchise on this podcast, which is truly absurd to me. But the dogs with a Z. Maybe they were a thing in early two thousand s. Oh, my gosh. With the baby.
Speaker A: I mentioned this before.
Speaker B: I don't remember.
Speaker A: But I remember these.
Speaker B: But I feel like I talked about it.
Speaker A: Uh maybe.
Speaker B: But they aren't cartoon.
Speaker A: No, they are just photos.
Speaker B: Maybe they are taken with a certain kind of lens.
Speaker A: No, I remember dogs. Their heads are huge and their bodies are teeny.
Speaker B: And then they made them into toys. Yeah, Burger King or something.
Speaker A: I had a calendar with them of dogs and also of cats. I don't know.
Speaker B: I'm not scared of the dolls.
Speaker A: Doll. You're not scared of the stuffed animal. You're scared of the doll. Totally fair. So we went on a ghost tour when we were in Key West, Florida. And some uh of this is from stories that I remember from our ghost guide or whatever. But a um lot of this is what I found in research. So some of this has my own thoughts in here as well. So here's the story. Robert Eugene nickname Jean Otto, belonged to a prominent family in Key West, Florida during the turn of the 20th century. He was a young boy in 19 four when he was gifted with a doll about his size for his fourth birthday. Remember, this thing is 3ft tall, 4ft tall, 3ft tall, 3ft. There are differing accounts as to how he ended up with the toy. However, the most credible account is that on a trip to Germany, Otto's grandfather stopped at the uh Stiff company to pick up a toy for his grandson. The doll he chose was not one that was manufactured on a large scale. Rather, that was part of a window display and especially made for a clown and circus set. It has been confirmed that he is a Stiff creation and a unique one. Though there is no documentation as to whether the grandfather actually gifted the doll or not upon his return, there's no photograph of the grandfather with the doll or anything like that. He is also filled with this wood wool, the straw, which is a uh bit of an unusual choice for Stiff because their normal stuffed animals aren't filled with that uh because it's a weird. Yeah. It's a display item rather than an actual Stiff item. It's interesting. Like he's in a sailor suit. Just wait when it's a circus. So he came in a Harlequin outfit. Uh we'll get to Hawaii wearing a sailor suit. Okay. The most popular account is that the doll was actually a gift from a member of the House's staff. An unnamed maid whose origin was either Jamaica or Haiti gave the doll to Jean as a way to remember her as he got older and she no longer could take care of him as she was planning on leaving the house. There are rumors as to why or even if she did, but one rumor was that either one or both of the Masters of the house, Jean's parents were cruel to her, and she didn't want to deal with it anymore. What year is this again? Okay. And he's only four years old.
Speaker B: Got you.
Speaker A: But she loved Jean, so she stayed long enough to find uh or make the perfect gift for him. But it's kind of been confirmed that it's Stiffed, so that doesn't make sense. So maybe she found it somewhere, bought it. I don't know. The other was that she wanted to find a lasting way to Perth her employers for their cruelty, and so felt that the best way to guarantee that the curse would persist was to place it within a doll that the boy would never want to give up. And so, as she was a practitioner of voodoo, she put a curse that they couldn't reverse on the doll. You like my rhyme? Yeah.
Speaker B: Also, that kind of feeling reminds me of uh recently um I've been seeing on TikTok, people going around and saying, these are what I would have used for Horcruxes the entire ocean, a crushed white claw can in a frat house or something. Stuff that would never get noticed because it's not important, but kind of. But I guess hers is the opposite. But it's so clever that it's. It's true. Have you ever met a toddler that has its mind set on something?
Speaker A: Exactly.
Speaker B: Also, I definitely can understand the desire.
Speaker A: To curse the previous employer player. I feel like we've all been there. We've all been there. Yeah. Regardless, Gene received the doll and instantly took to it. He had it with him everywhere. And remember, this thing is the same size as him, basically.
Speaker B: So he's a Swolle four year old.
Speaker A: Well, I think since it's £6. He might just be like dragging it with him. But still, when he first got it, the doll and he were about the same size. And so he called him Robert, his own name, and started to go by Gene. It's reported that Gene walked up to his mother and said, Call me Jean. When she asked why, he said, Because Robert said so. As Jean grew, he still clung to Robert. Eventually, the doll was taken out of the Harlequin outfit. He came in and was dressed in one of Jean's old outfits, a sailor's shirt, pants and cap which fit him perfectly. I'm going to show you a picture of little Robert, Jean Otto in the sailors suit with his friend. So it's the same sailorsuit.
Speaker B: Okay, yeah.
Speaker A: Don't put the creepy doll in.
Speaker B: Don't give him your name.
Speaker A: Also, this is probably what Robert looked like when he arrived.
Speaker B: No.
Speaker A: Uh yeah. I uh needed you to see it.
Speaker B: So that, you know, I don't like it.
Speaker A: I'm sorry. Clowns and dolls and curses and it's.
Speaker B: Like kind of doing like the flopped.
Speaker A: Over, but like it's head looks like it's not a great picture of it.
Speaker B: You can also experience this sense of impending doom and terror with me if you follow us on Instagram at this podcast doesn't exist. I'm sure these photos will be there.
Speaker A: They will. You're welcome. When Gene was ten, his mother was awoken by her son screaming for help from his bedroom and the sounds of furniture being thrown and turned over. She rushed to his room and threw open the door. Jean was curled up tight at the top corner of his bed, shivering with fear and Robert sitting at the end of it. No, the room was in complete disarray with furniture and clothing everywhere. When asked what happened, Gene said he woke up to Robert sitting at the end of the bed, staring at him. Are you crying again? Not yet. With items flying across the room and being thrown towards him.
Speaker B: Oh, that's even creepier. That the doll is like, yes, still unseen, uh Terry. But the stuff is like, oh my God.
Speaker A: Uh he also said, quote, Robert did it. This quote became a mantra that Jean would recite any time something odd, destructive or inexplicable would happen around him.
Speaker B: New theory. Gene is just an undiagnosed wizard.
Speaker A: Undiagnosed.
Speaker B: Alla Harry Potter. Unidentified wizard.
Speaker A: I don't know. I love that. Thank you for the levity.
Speaker B: Hi, uh my name is Shannon. I deal with feelings through humor.
Speaker A: I would like you all to know that Shannon is fully underneath a blanket and laying down against this futon so that she can be as far away from me as possible while still being on the couch and warm.
Speaker B: But I'm too warm. Okay.
Speaker A: All right. Even with the night of flying furniture, jeans still brought Robert everywhere with him.
Speaker B: Probably because Robert threatened him. Just saying.
Speaker A: His parents would hear him talking to the doll and could hear another completely different voice answer back. The parents could see the doll's face change expressions? No, allegedly saw him talk as well. But still, they allowed Jean to keep the doll since he was so attached.
Speaker B: Child abuse.
Speaker A: Child.
Speaker B: Cigarette? No, actually, I was going to throw it in the ocean, but then it would probably come back and it would be all wet and terrifying.
Speaker A: No. Still, anything that was destructive or negative that happened was blamed on Robert by Gene, even if Jean himself had evidently done it.
Speaker B: Well, that makes sense to me.
Speaker A: Yeah.
Speaker B: Kids blame their imaginary friend when they do naughty things.
Speaker A: Absolutely. So Robert always did it, no matter what it was. If it was good, Gene did it. If it was bad, Robert did it. Eventually, the family moved to France, leaving Roberts behind in a nailed shut box. So obviously, the parents of Jean were like, this thing needs to be nailed shut inside of a box. We're not playing around crying. I'm so sorry. No, you're not.
Speaker B: Just keep trying. The only way out is through.
Speaker A: Jean grew up and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago with aspirations of becoming an artist. While studying in Paris, he met music student in Boston native Annette Parker. They married soon after in 1930 and moved to New York City for both of them to work. Okay, Anne as a pianist and Gene as a painter.
Speaker B: Good for them.
Speaker A: The draw of his family home, however, after the death of his parents, eventually brought the couple to the Key West.
Speaker B: Oh, no.
Speaker A: Where they would spend the next 40 years of their lives together.
Speaker B: How cute.
Speaker A: I'm going to wait for you to wipe away your tears.
Speaker B: No, just keep going. I'm processing this just by. Wait, can I make a prediction?
Speaker A: Sure. I'm not going to tell you whether or not it's.
Speaker B: Yeah, I know. I need credit that I get it right if I get it right. And if not, I get credit for having a creative imagination.
Speaker A: Okay, so they moved down to Florida.
Speaker B: I met mhm Jean and what's her name?
Speaker A: Annette. Annette, how cute. How 19. Um.
Speaker B: I bet they have kids. And the kids are going to discover Robert in the box and some issues going to go down. Generational trauma.
Speaker A: Well, it wasn't the kids. Upon moving into the house, Jean decided to unbox Robert because he knew where he was. Things started to get really weird from here.
Speaker B: Oh, but it wasn't weird already. Okay, future rents aside. And, Bruce, feel free. When we're off the mic, you can.
Speaker A: Weigh in on this.
Speaker B: But after you and Emma got married, great. You're living your best life. Say you move into the Kylie family home for whatever reason. What would you do if Emma or I'll speak uh more broadly? Dear listener, if your spouse happened to be like, oh, yeah, here's this child sized doll that was my constant companion. Let me unbox it from a nailed shut box. Like what would your reaction be like?
Speaker A: Who lead in utter terror? Oh, spouse. A silly child. My first question would be, why is it nailed shut?
Speaker B: Right?
Speaker A: Like, if it's nailed shut, maybe we don't open it.
Speaker B: Or also, I mean, sorry to speak ill of the dead, but Jean's parents.
Speaker A: If you knew it, needed to be.
Speaker B: Nailed shut and sent away, maybe do it without Gene knowing about it.
Speaker A: I think because they were older when Jean was off going into because he was the youngest of quite a few siblings. Uh four siblings, I think. And um he was like the baby baby. So I think his parents were fairly older when he was in College.
Speaker B: I found out when they moved to France. He was still a child when they moved to France.
Speaker A: But there was still family that was living in the house. Yeah, that's fine. But the parents chose to nail the.
Speaker B: Doll inside a box.
Speaker A: I think they were afraid that if they did anything to it other than keep it in the house, something would happen. No, that's uh fine.
Speaker B: Keep it in the house.
Speaker A: But don't tell the child that's the.
Speaker B: Conduit for whatever creature this is.
Speaker A: I don't think they expected him because the reason why he ended up back at the house was because his three other siblings gave him the shares of the home, because they owned it jointly, because it was passed down from their parents. But they had already established their families in their own homes, and he was newly married. So they were like, oh, we don't need the home. Uh it's yours. I don't think they expected anyone, any of their kids to live in the house. I think they fully expected the kids to get it as a gift of the estate and then sell it and get the money. The doll will be someone else's problem. Yeah.
Speaker B: Imagine buying. Uh oh, no.
Speaker A: All right, let's keep going. Okay, so things are getting weird. Gene reverted to a more childlike state. No, starting again to blame Robert for odd things happening in the house. He also carried him up and downstairs, always having him with him as he painted, and even had him sit at the dinner table as they ate dinner.
Speaker B: I'm sorry.
Speaker A: I'm going to need an annulment. Right.
Speaker B: Real quick.
Speaker A: Right. Anything that Gene said to his wife that was angry, he blamed on Robert. Any argument they had where Gene had done something wrong, he blamed on Robert. Gene eventually made a room, or at least it wasn't like the room. He basically built things for the room and gave them to Robert. So he had things built for specifically Robert. He built them a Robert sized bed, Robert sized chairs, and a Robert sized table and gave him his own toy, the stuffed dog, lion, unhinged, uh bear looking thing. He let Robert live in the turret room facing the road so that he could watch the world from the windows. So let's look at this house. Let me show you the picture of.
Speaker B: This house even without seeing the picture.
Speaker A: Yeah.
Speaker B: That's the best room in the house. Oh, absolutely.
Speaker A: So that's where Jean would most of the time paint because it had the best light. So he would want to paint with the best light. So he gave Robert. So up in the top of that turret is an attic. And mhm so the only way to get to that attic is through the turret bedroom. So mhm that's where he and Robert would hang out. Mhm yeah. By the way, on the tour that we went on this ghost tour, this house is gorgeous, and it's really one of the most beautiful houses on that strip of road. And there's some um weird things about Key mhm West that are, like, weirdly beautiful, but there's varied house styles and stuff, but it's all gorgeous. Key west himself. Key west itself is gorgeous. So he let him stay in this room with his size stuff. Basically just gave him run of this room. Can I just say this is the.
Speaker B: More deranged, potentially haunted version of, like, American Girl doll.
Speaker A: Oh, totally.
Speaker B: Would you go through the catalog and just circle everything?
Speaker A: Absolutely, I would, but I never I.
Speaker B: Think I got one other outfit for.
Speaker A: My Kaya doll, and I think my mom was like, if it gets gifted to you, okay, uh there's a whole.
Speaker B: Subset of Pinterest about creating, like, showing.
Speaker A: Clothes and making furniture for your mother. Did that, which I uh think is.
Speaker B: Great, get your kids involved?
Speaker A: Absolutely.
Speaker B: I'm not paying $45 for a doll bed.
Speaker A: No. So I had Samantha, and that makes sense to me. It does. But my mom would um buy the off brand, like, Target brand, same size dog stuff, or she made tons of clothes for Samantha. So her and I would have the same school jumper because Catholic school went up, I had to wear a uniform. And so my mom would, like, hem that dress or help make my jumper for school and then make one for Samantha as well. So we would look the same. And as a kid, that's awesome to have a doll that looks like you. That's what Jean's thinking when he's a kid. This doll looks like me. It's something I can play with. It's something I can connect with. So mhm Jean even insisted at one point that Robert B served dinner first when at the table, as he was, quote, the man of the house.
Speaker B: What?
Speaker A: Anne eventually put her foot down. Okay, good. And told um Jean to lock Robert up as he was making her uncomfortable and uneasy. Like, the minute she set eyes on this thing, she was like, oh, no.
Speaker B: That'S a whole lot of note.
Speaker A: Yeah. Jean conceded and locked Robert in the attic, which is just above that turbo room. Robert did not like this.
Speaker B: Oh.
Speaker A: Visitors uh to the house. And Anne reported hearing footsteps above them in the upstairs bedrooms. The sounds of pacing and giggling no, from the attic. Shannon, I think is going to cry again.
Speaker B: I'm so sorry.
Speaker A: I just find it fascinating that I am not scared by this stuff somehow. I don't know why.
Speaker B: I don't know. Maybe because you've researched it, so you're looking at it more through analytically.
Speaker A: The analytical lens.
Speaker B: And I'm just experiencing it as a story.
Speaker A: It's trauma, apparently. Sorry.
Speaker B: No, it's good content. Keep rolling. I'll do it for the pod. Thanks, man.
Speaker A: Uh uh Children in the neighborhood told their parents and friends that they could see the doll in the turret window waving at them and mocking them as they walked back and forth from school and watching them as they played. Remember Robert's in the attic.
Speaker B: Downstairs and Nope. Nope.
Speaker A: So when Gene heard word of this so this happened for about like a week or so, and he heard word from the neighborhood of like, this is weird. And the kids were freaked out. So he went to check on Robert in the attic. But when he arrived at the turret bedroom to go up to the attic, there was Robert sitting in a chair at the window, looking out.
Speaker B: Are you okay?
Speaker A: You're not okay. No. I'm going to keep going. Gene returned into the attic several times, but Robert always made his way out and back to a chair at the window. Throughout all of this, visitors and Anne reported that the doll's expression would change with the conversation in the room, that he would shift to a different window when no one was looking, and that he giggled a lot. When Jean died in 1974, the house was sold to a friend of Anne's when Robert locked in the attic inside another nailed shut box.
Speaker B: That's so rude to your friend. Honestly, that's Ruder than you turning into a vase.
Speaker A: Sorry. It's got to happen.
Speaker B: Time will tell.
Speaker A: Yeah, that's very true. So there are two accounts of how Gene died. Gene had Parkinson's disease and died from complications to this disease in a hospital in Miami. This is reported. But in one source, which I find very funny, it was that he was found on the floor of the attic with Robert on top of him, tiny hands around his throat, but nowhere else. It was a little too on the nose. And I'm like, you guys know, Anne herself was constantly bouncing from Miami to Key West to take care um of Jean when he was going through the last moments of his life. So it's pretty well established that Robert did not kill him. So the house was sold again the same year to William and Myrtle router found Robert in the attic and unpacked him. Um nobody knows to keep a nail shut. Okay. But curiosity is just so compelling. I would say yes.
Speaker B: But also, if you are the one putting this creepy thing in the box.
Speaker A: Maybe right on the box.
Speaker B: Uh cursed doll. Do not open hope.
Speaker A: I'd be so compelled to open it then. But at least you know what you're getting into. That's fair about a house. What's in this? Because I'm a nosy person.
Speaker B: I love watching, like, urban explorers on YouTube and go into abandoned mansions and prisons and schools. And I think it's so fascinating. I wish they would spend more time being, like, little archaeologists and pick up those papers on the desk, tell me what the test was on in 19.
Speaker A: Whatever.
Speaker B: I love all those little things. So I'm sure, yes. If I bought a house and I discovered some stuff that got range box or by previous occupants, I'd be like, oh, I wonder what could it be? But if it said that, I would be like, hey, Emma, you're going to have to do this episode of the podcast solo. You're taking this thing out into a field. Do not open it in my home. Okay. Love you. Bye. And then you and Bruce could get in your little car, get your little dog, go out into a field.
Speaker A: All right.
Speaker B: And he could be your co host for that one.
Speaker A: I'll do that for you. Yeah, I promise.
Speaker B: I mean, I should hope I don't buy a house with a haunted anything in a box.
Speaker A: Yeah. Honestly. So just label your haunted stuff.
Speaker B: Put that on the merch.
Speaker A: Label anything haunted.
Speaker B: I mean, I would say a little more explicitly label your blank, but we'll keep it clean for the pod.
Speaker A: All right, so again, there are two accounts of what happened while the Router family lived in the Auto House.
Speaker B: Also a baby named Myrtle.
Speaker A: It's simultaneously cute and very weird.
Speaker B: Yeah.
Speaker A: So one is that nothing happened.
Speaker B: I like that one.
Speaker A: Yeah. Myrtle used Robert as Christmas decorations, dressing him in Christmas pajamas and setting him by the tree. However, he moved with them to a new home in 1980, and only then did he decide to move around and start to terrify the family by sneaking out of locked rooms and locking them in rooms. Ah, no. The second story is that the ten year old daughter of the Routers was given Robert to play with. Soon, however, she became scared of him, telling her parents that the doll was alive and kept wanting to hurt her.
Speaker B: She was a smart girl. Also remember stupid little boy.
Speaker A: But remember, Jean was ten when strange things started happening. This little girl is ten as well. Okay. All right. She would often wake up in the middle of the night screaming and claiming that Robert was moving around the room. No. Whatever the story was, Robert was eventually donated to the Fort East Martella Museum in 1994, where he resides to this day. The Auto House is now the Artist's House, named for its former owner's professions and is still standing in Key West at 534 Eton Street and is now abandoned breakfast. It has minor reports of ghosts and autocurrencies, but very specifically, there is a ghost that people claim looks like Anne in her wedding dress who appears in the turret room. And people who run the place say that they believe the reason Anne is there is to keep the spirit of Robert away from the guests.
Speaker B: And the staff shout out to you, Anne.
Speaker A: Yeah. She's currently the only ghost that anyone has ever claimed to see in that house. There's, like, little knocks and stuff in the house, but there's never been anything that feels malicious. It's all very benevolent, and it's very much like Anne's just here to keep everyone chill, so I appreciate um that. Yeah. So in the Museum, Robert now sits in his own room under glass and is surrounded by letters written to him. No, these aren't fan letters. Uh they are letters of apology and pleadings to lift curses set upon visitors by Robert, though there is a sign that explicitly says no photos. Many people take them anyway, because people be stupid or talk about or to Robert without acknowledging him. First, the staff say that the only way not to leave with trouble following you home is to greet the doll by saying, Hello, Robert. Then you ask permission to take a photograph, either of him or with him. Uh you then must say, Goodbye, Robert, before you leave the room. Those who haven't followed protocol have left and had their cars crash, bones broken, had family members pass unexpectedly, relationships fail, and plenty of other mishaps, either minor or major. Uh you can find plenty of these letters online, but all basically have the same sentiment of Please forgive me. Staff also say that they have heard giggling, seen shadows, had doors Slam, and had lights in his specific exhibit area unexpectedly flick on and off. Visitors throughout the Museum have had cameras and phones drain power, and weirdly be back up to full power once they leave the Museum. Currently, there is a lockdown ghost experience that the Museum hosts with the author and ghost Hunter David L. Sloan, who says Robert is, quote, dying to meet you, which I'm like, all right, man. Uh other ghosts apparently inhabit the Fort as well. So Robert may not be the only one who decides to communicate. Now, my dad and my brother, when we were down in Key West, my mom was not into this. She was going on the ghost tour, but she was not going to go and see this Museum. This Museum is an actual Fort that was used to defend the Keys, the Florida Keys. And it's this big, beautiful old building. And they have other wonderful exhibits in there about deep, like history, about the Fort, about Key West, about all of that. But the main exhibit is Robert the doll. And so my dad and my brother were like, we're going to go and see it. So I texted them and I was like, hey, I don't think you did, but did you take any pictures with or of Robert? And my dad doesn't immediately text back anytime. Usually it's like another like, 20 minutes or whatever, because he doesn't always have his phone on him. Within a minute, my dad texts me back and he goes, oh, no. In fact, you know what? Let me find the text, because I want to read it to you because I texted both of them.
Speaker B: Well, while you do that, can I.
Speaker A: Share a little anecdote about?
Speaker B: So you said people have to greet.
Speaker A: And say goodbye to Robert.
Speaker B: There was a similar thing in the browsing room at Sweetbriar. In the library with the portrait on the wall. Yeah, which it's an old data strike that the eyes fall you no matter where you go. But a lot of people get experiences of Sweet Briar, and this is the thing. But I never closed the library, so I never had to do it as an employee. But we always talked about it on the admissions tour, and I don't remember who the portrait is of in the browsing room.
Speaker A: It's not uh Indiana, and it's not Daisy. Yeah, I think it's a President.
Speaker B: But you have to say Goodnight to her, because if you don't, when you.
Speaker A: Close the library, you'll come back and, like, uh books will be thrown off the shelves and lights will be flashed.
Speaker B: On and off or whatever. Again, we should do a Sweet Bryan episode.
Speaker A: We should just College ghost stories. Yeah. Uni. Um so mhm my dad said to the question, did you take a picture or not? He said, no, absolutely not. Neither of us had the nerve. We didn't take a picture in the entire place. And my brother said, Nope, not goofing with him or snapping a photo. Not worth it. So these men are not, like, they're not ever really, like, believers in supernatural or anything like that, but they ain't going to mess with it. Not to chance it, honestly, because I wasn't on that trip. I was up here. And so it was just the uh other three family members. And my mom, I texted her while they were off at the Museum, and I was like, Why didn't you go with? And uh she was like, I don't even want to be close to that thing. Why would I ever want to be close to it? And I was like, totally fair.
Speaker B: I get your mother has that creepy monkey.
Speaker A: Mom, I want to talk about the monkey. Guys, I'm getting intervention. I need to find a photograph of this monkey.
Speaker B: Leah will send you one.
Speaker A: Seriously, I should just text him right now. But this monkey is uh an old stuffed animal from the 1920s, and it's glassy eyes stared directly into your soul. And my dad used to position it around the house at eye level in order to scare my mom. And I think in retaliation, my mom kind of fell in love with it. And so now she thinks it's cute. So now my dad can't prank her with it because now she thinks it's cute. So now it sits inside one of these China cabinets and stares at you as you eat dinner.
Speaker B: I cannot forget that it's there and.
Speaker A: You just turn and it's like, stare. This thing is the creepiest. Uh honestly, I would much rather have Robert than I would that ugly monkey thing. No. All right.
Speaker B: We don't have to have Robert. Okay, good.
Speaker A: I'm not getting you Robert.
Speaker B: Good.
Speaker A: So in pop culture, Robert is reportedly the inspiration for the child's play movie franchise with Chucky, which makes sense. Like creepy, potentially cursed doll. Never seen those movies. I had no interest.
Speaker B: I'm good. I stick with Toy Story.
Speaker A: There's a creepy bend on Toy Story.
Speaker B: Not that they're haunted, just that they move by that. Well, I guess it depends on the toy. Lotso was a bad toy. True.
Speaker A: Anyway, sorry, I got very distracted by that. There's also another movie series named Robert that is exclusively based on Robert, and it has four movies within this franchise, the last one being made in 2019. I have never heard of this movie.
Speaker B: Franchise before, but we don't watch horror movies.
Speaker A: That's fair. But still, like, I've heard of Child's Play and Chucky, so I don't know. Uh in 2015, Robert appeared on the Ghost Adventures Artifacts episode with Zack Bagan.
Speaker B: This is just turning into a Zack Bagan uh podcast.
Speaker A: I am not a fan of this man. I love him, but I also hate him. Like, there's no in between for me. Anyway, that's for another time uh to just talk about how much I hate him, but also adore everything he does because it's so stupid. I enjoy stupidity. Anyway, it's the same episode that the Dybbuk box is featured on. So when I watch the Dbukbox episode of Artifacts, I also watched the portion of Robert being introduced to Zack. Uh and Zack Bagan is an over actor to the extreme. He is one of the most dramatic people on television and not in a good way. He's so bad at acting. And he meets Robert because Robert has not moved from the Key West Museum since in 1994.
Speaker B: Are there cameras on him? Do we know that he hasn't uh.
Speaker A: Moved outside of the Key West Museum? If he has moved inside of it, I'm not sure. I don't think so. Otherwise, I feel like that would have been reported and they would have hyped it up. But in any case, so in 2015, it had been quite a while since he had been moved, and he had never gone outside of Key West before, him being in 115 years almost at this point. So apparently the um travel was seamless. Nothing happened to travel for who? The travel to um Las Vegas from Key West.
Speaker B: Oh, Robert was going to Vegas.
Speaker A: Oh, yeah. I thought he went.
Speaker B: Zack was going to no.
Speaker A: Uh so Robert arrived at Zack Bagan's haunted Museum to meet Zack Bagans because apparently that's an honor. And it was this weird thing of like, he's sitting across from the curator. The curator of uh the Museum of the Four East Museum.
Speaker B: I was going to say Zack Bagan is not the curator of his own.
Speaker A: That would be so funny. I think he is. But the curator from the Fort um East Museum, Corey Convertito, escorted Robert uh to Las Vegas.
Speaker B: I acknowledge that.
Speaker A: No, I would not. And she's sitting across from Zack Bagan in these giant throne like chairs because, of course, and she's holding Robert. Um and she is telling Zach because he's like, So this is Robert? And she's like, yeah, she's so deadpan. She's like, not into this. And I fully appreciate it.
Speaker B: She's like, I majored in art history for this, right?
Speaker A: Yes. So she's sitting there and Zach is asking all these questions, and eventually he's like, Can I hold him? And her face goes, like, kind of blank for a second. And she's like, I mean, sure, but you have to be really careful. And I think in her head, she was like, this is an item that I'm curating. I don't want you to mess it up, but in the scope of the uh show, I think it was like, you don't know if he likes you or if he'll let you hold it.
Speaker B: I would not have spent that whole time talking about him.
Speaker A: She mentions that she's like, Robert's right here. You can talk to him. Kind of like playing it up.
Speaker B: Yeah.
Speaker A: Uh but she uh was asked, have you had any experiences with him? And her answer was, I've never felt anything bad from Robert. Has never had any experience from Robert. Anything negative happened around him or anything like that. But she certainly doesn't want to, quote, unquote, poke the bear and fully respects Robert and still says hello um and goodbye to him anytime that she's in the room.
Speaker B: Yeah, don't chance it.
Speaker A: Exactly like my dad and my brother. Just don't be polite. Yeah, don't chance it. So here are our theories.
Speaker B: Oh, goodness.
Speaker A: One is that Robert is cursed. He was cursed either with the voodoo or some other entity and wreaks as much havoc as he can on whoever disrespects him. So whether it's like Gene was disrespecting him or his parents were disrespecting Robert. And so he decided, I'm just going to mess your life up and throw things around and do bad things and all that. Another possibility is that he was imbued with the soul of the child that the maid of the house who supposedly gifted the doll to Jean lost in a miscarriage. She was rumored to have had an affair with her employer, which may have actually been nonconsensual, but who knows? Because none of this is really reported. Now, the reason that people believe this is because specifically in the Museum, there have been photographs taken with Robert, and there have been shadow figures of a small child next to him or um in a reflection or anything like that.
Speaker UNK: No.
Speaker A: There have also been sightings within the Museum of a small child with darker skin because this woman was black and his father was white. Mhm so a darker skinned child who's fairly short, dressed in white, looking very angry. It's a no for me. Yeah, I know. So there's that story. It is completely unconfirmed. It is all speculation. But from the photographs of some people or whatever, which I couldn't necessarily find is just follow stories. But there's that. Another theory is that Robert is instead of cursed, he's haunted. And Robert was imbued with this negative energy, not from a voodoo curse, but from specifically, Gene himself. So after blaming Robert for everything bad that ever happened, the doll started to actually make bad things happen. So some kind of spirit started to collect itself inside of Robert based on the negative energy that Jean was giving.
Speaker B: Off because Mr. Hyde.
Speaker A: Exactly. And uh was starting to feed all of his negativity into the doll. And then the doll started to shoot it back. So Gene possibly now maybe haunts the doll now that he's gone with his potentially childlike personality. I don't like that one. Mostly because it makes more sense on a sense of, like, because of the negativity that Gene was putting on him and blaming him for everything bad that ever happened, that the energy that he put into him was also being put out from him. I don't like the portion of Jean himself um haunting the doll, although it would make sense because if the doll, when he was a kid was the same size as him, he thought of him as himself. He dressed him in his own clothing. There's a little bit of that creepy. Creepy. The last theory is that Robert is not haunted or cursed at all. Gene could have been a jerk who didn't want to take responsibility for his actions or he was mentally ill and needed help, but it was the we don't talk about that. So he was using him as a conduit to put all of his anger, his sadness, his rage into whenever something bad happened. Why are you laughing?
Speaker B: Because the thing that popped into my head is the puppet episode from Community Therapist is like, you guys need to talk about your feelings.
Speaker A: And it's just all the puppets that look exactly like that. That's one of the best episodes of Community anyway, I love that show. Lastly, anything bad that happens to visitors to Robert's exhibit in Key West are just running into minor bad luck or have already had trouble elsewhere and end up blaming it on him, finding a scapegoat, sending him a letter, and feeling cleansed by doing so. Oh, wait, so Robert was just visiting Vegas he likes. Yeah, Robert. Is he taking up residence? No, uh Robert was just visiting Mr. Zack Bagans. How rude.
Speaker B: Did Robert come to you?
Speaker A: Honestly, I don't really know. Maybe it was like we'll give a donation to the Museum or something in order to get you guys over here.
Speaker B: Or we'll pay your way so you.
Speaker A: Don'T have to worry about it.
Speaker B: But like, I'm saying, if Robert is literally like a spirit, how rude.
Speaker A: Honestly, unless they want to move around.
Speaker B: They were like, Robert, we're taking Vegas, brother. We're going to show you around.
Speaker A: Let's play some swats before we go home.
Speaker B: Come see the Bellagio, see the show, see some Dragons.
Speaker A: I will say Zack Baggins has a running record of borrowing cursed objects uh and not being in this. There is an episode where he goes to the island of the dolls. No. Which is an episode we're going to do eventually. Uh i'll do it, but I'll do it in the daytime, so you don't have to worry about it because I love it better. Am I? She's vigorously shaking her head. No. In any case, he brought another cursed doll named Harold to the island in order to see if Harold's spirit could connect with the other dolls spirits. But it was like the doll is owned privately, and for some reason he was like, yeah, um I'll just take it to Mexico, which is where this island is. And I'm like, Dude, stop taking things places.
Speaker B: First of all, from our collection perspective.
Speaker A: No. Secondly, it's going to be an idiot.
Speaker B: Like Zach freaking Baggins. That's going to cause some stuff that we can't Revere with as humanity and we're going to be stuck with it because there's one white boy's stupidity.
Speaker A: Yeah.
Speaker B: And I'm mad about it.
Speaker A: Yeah. So the last thing I'll say is that you can buy little Robert dolls. They are thoroughly uh uncursed.
Speaker B: So you say, no, I love your uh dog too much to never go to your house again. But I would do it.
Speaker A: I'd place them next to my teeth.
Speaker B: Stop scope. Uh i really want Bruce, uh please tell me you're with me on this. Please tell me you are running on that tremor right now and you are vigorously shaking your head. Also, you're going to walk upstairs when you're done and you're going to open the door and your wife will be there and you will say, Wife, who I love a lot.
Speaker A: Absolutely not.
Speaker B: Absolutely not. Penny, you tell mom, too. You look her face and say, no, mom.
Speaker A: No, Mommy. Bite her hand.
Speaker B: If she tries to buy it on.
Speaker A: Her phone, bite um her hand.
Speaker B: No, Mommy, not aggressively, but bite her. No, Mommy. Auntie Shannon says it's fine. In defeat um of evil, we must do important things. No, you can get a naked cat before you get that. I can get a naked cat before.
Speaker A: That so I can get a naked cat.
Speaker B: You still have your husband to contend with.
Speaker A: That's true. Bruce, baby, can I have a naked cat? Because otherwise I'm buying a little mini Robert de dawn.
Speaker B: No, please.
Speaker A: This is my new ultimatum.
Speaker B: In order to get the microphone, I am with a pleading expression as if it's him.
Speaker A: Yeah, but that is the spooky story of Robert the Doll.
Speaker B: That's absolutely horrifying. I hate capitalism. Why does that exist? That you can buy little dolls. No, I'm no longer afraid. I'm just mad.
Speaker A: Well, I'm glad you're no longer afraid, because it is like 10:00 at night.
Speaker B: And we have to go to bed. I swear. Emma, Emma is sleeping here tonight because all the highways are shut down for the inauguration. I swear, if you make any kind of weird noise tonight from this guest room, I will end you if I.
Speaker A: Just start to go.
Speaker B: It's not intentional, but. No, I mean, how many years have we been friends? Eight.
Speaker A: Nine?
Speaker B: Well, eight, because it was the fall. But I will throw it all out if you pull that on me about.
Speaker A: Our eight year relationship out the window.
Speaker B: There will not be a 9th wife anniversary. Yeah, see, now you're crying. You're uh welcome.
Speaker A: Crying from laughter. I'm so sorry.
Speaker B: No, you're not.
Speaker A: Uh i'm a little sorry. No, you're not.
Speaker B: Because you keep doing this. It's like every what? Like every four episodes.
Speaker A: I am trying to space them out. I will say these are the ones that fascinate me the most, so I feel the desire to tell them to you, but I'm trying not to overload you so you'll never end up with, like, two episodes of mine. Back to back of Spooky. But I do want to tell these stories. You're just lucky I haven't done a murder yet. No, I've done a disappearance, but I haven't done a murder. We haven't done one murder during this. Not one unsolved murder.
Speaker B: Well, I mean, technically, Tupac's murder is unsolved.
Speaker A: That's true. Never mind. But was he murdered?
Speaker B: Is he dead?
Speaker A: Yes.
Speaker B: Episode one, if you're a new fan, he started at the recent episode. Got to go back to the backlog.
Speaker A: But that's fair. That's a fair point.
Speaker B: But I didn't get in. It wasn't a very grisly.
Speaker A: Nor would I want to get into a grizzly murder. But we also don't have any real speculation on who possibly could have fired the shots. Well, we did, but, like, no evidence. Yeah, that's what I mean.
Speaker B: Yeah.
Speaker A: So no line of evidence to follow. So thanks for listening. If you're still here, if you didn't turn this off halfway through and start crying like Shannon did three separate times, too, they weren't uh all in a row. They were three separate times. If you'd like your enemies to listen to this and be freaked out, too, go ahead and send it to them. Share. And then maybe subscribe to us. If you enjoyed this, if you didn't enjoy this. I'm so sorry.
Speaker B: Go listen to one of Maya.
Speaker A: Yeah, go listen to one of Shannon's thoroughly. Yeah, hers are thoroughly unspooky. They're more like conspiracy. Um all of those are good. I do have a running theme of liking Spooky, so I apologize, but I found this fun. Thank you for listening. Thank you for listening, Shannon.
Speaker B: Yeah, you're welcome. For this emotional trauma. I better see it reflected in our ratings and reviews. Yes, please email in if you are team Spooky or team heck no. You are not bringing that doll in this house or your own house very long uh team name. Like we'll workshop it.
Speaker A: We'll make it. I don't like team heck no. Team heck no.
Speaker B: We'll put it on the jerseys. Team spook and team wait, but what if. Okay, so when this podcast eventually becomes.
Speaker A: A massive hit because you are shared.
Speaker B: Rated, reviewed and subscribed because you're super fans. Thank you. And we have lines of merch. Sure we could have.
Speaker A: Instead of like team Edward, team Jacob, we have team spooky and team HEXNo. Yeah, or it's a mug. Like half of the mug is black.
Speaker B: But then when you turn it around the other is like a gentle color. Like a nice light yellow. It's like team heck no.
Speaker A: You've just unintentionally made her emerge. Hufflepuff. Well, that is your aesthetic. I did have the thought that when.
Speaker B: You were saying like you have a.
Speaker A: Tendency towards the dark and spooky. I do.
Speaker B: I was like dark academia. Maybe I'm over here like. Yeah, then there were inflatable tanks more history, polite academia.
Speaker A: Yeah, I'm much more in the depths of like old Victorian mystery novels and people locked in the attic. Yeah, basically the entirety of Jane heir. Except I hate the Bronte. Let's not get into it. Okay. If you have feelings about ghosts, the.
Speaker B: Bronte sisters, creepy dolls, any of it, you can email us at this podcast doesn't firstname.lastname@example.org. Have you been to key west? Have you met Robert? Did you take a photo?
Speaker A: Did you ask permission?
Speaker B: I want to know these things. Please let us know all of it.
Speaker A: Please. And if you would like to see the potentially cursed photographs of not just Robert, but his unhinged stuffed animal uh as well as little gene auto and the house, you can find us and uh those photographs on Instagram at this podcast doesn't exist. You can also in the bio of that Instagram. You can find the link to our bingo card because you should be playing bingo. Especially to this one. I have a feeling you might end up with a full bingo. Yeah. Thank you for listening. Mhm and remember this podcast doesn't exist.
The Mother Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_(doll)
Boredom Therapy: https://boredomtherapy.com/s/creepy-history-of-robert-the-doll?as=799&asv=1&bdk=0
Ghosts and Gravestones Ghost Tours and Key West History: https://www.ghostsandgravestones.com/key-west/robert-the-doll
Key West Art and Historical Society Exhibition Description and History: https://www.kwahs.org/exhibitions/robert-the-doll
Atlas Obscura: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/the-story-behind-the-worlds-most-haunted-doll
The Artist’s House: http://www.artisthousekeywest.com/about/robert-the-doll/ and http://www.artisthousekeywest.com/about/key-west-hotel-history/
All That’s Interesting: https://allthatsinteresting.com/robert-the-doll
The Curse of Robert the Doll: https://www.workforcesoftware.com/blog/the-curse-of-robert-the-doll/#:~:text=Robert%20is%20three%20feet%20tall,propped%20up%20on%20a%20stool.
The Story of Robert Gene Otto and Robert the Doll: https://missysmadhouse.tumblr.com/post/614251533290323968/robert-the-doll
Museum Ghost Tour: https://ghostfort.com/ghost-tour