Marc Hoover: Robert the Doll, world’s scariest doll

Marc Hoover

Robert the Doll is considered the scariest doll in the world. If you have never seen him before then I suggest you do a Google search. Robert currently resides in a museum in the Fort East Martello Museum Key West, Florida. He is open to visitors. For this article, I will refer to him as “He” since legend has it that Robert’s alive. He is so popular that he has fans who come from all over the world to visit him. He even has even received more than 1,000 letters and emails from his adoring fans.

Robert is a creepy looking doll. He has a slight resemblance of humanity. He has a brown face with prickly holes, cold Black eyes and a creepy looking grin. He is dressed in sailor gear and has a strange looking dog with large eyes sitting on his lap. It’s alleged that Robert is haunted and has caused accidents and other strange incidents. Legend has it that Robert can see through his fake eyes and has the capability of movement. According to, a reporter named Malcolm Ross visited Robert. He reported the following:

“It was like a metal bar running down my back. At first when we walked through the door, the look on his face was like a little boy being punished. It was as if he was asking himself, ‘Who are these people in my room and what are they going to do to me?’   

So how did this strange legend begin?

Sometime during the early 1900s, a boy named Robert Eugene Otto received a doll from his grandfather who had purchased the doll while in Germany. The doll was named after Robert. Supposedly, Otto had a really odd relationship with the doll that he carried into adulthood.

As a child, whenever strange occurrences happened, Otto blamed them on Robert. After Otto became an adult and purchased a home, he placed Robert in a window. Neighborhood children claimed they saw Robert move. Whether true or not, kids avoided the house because they were afraid of Robert.

After Otto died in 1974, a woman named Myrtle Reuter purchased the home. She also inherited Robert and became his new owner. Reuter went on to make some strange claims. During the 20 years she kept him, she said she could hear footsteps and laughing coming from the attic. Reuter also said Robert’s facial expression would change if someone made derogatory comments about Otto. Reuter also said that Robert could move himself throughout the house.

In 1994, Reuter decided she no longer wanted to deal with Robert or his nonsense. She donated him to the Fort East Martello Museum.

Since his relocation to the museum, he has become a celebrity in his own right. There have been movies, books, and documentaries about Robert. People also leave him gifts like candy and money.

So what’s the weirdest legend about Robert? Like many other celebrities, Robert doesn’t like anyone to take his picture. It’s believed that you must ask for his permission first. There have been many people who have taken his picture and claim they have had nothing but bad luck. I read an actual letter on one website about a visitor who took Robert’s picture without permission. The author said he has experienced a bankruptcy, death of a pet and a near-death experience. He wrote a letter to Robert asking for forgiveness. Supposedly this is the only way to end the bad luck.

So what do you think? Would you take a picture of Robert? And if you did, would you ask first? Whoever heard of asking a doll if you can take his picture? Silly? If you decide to visit Robert and take his picture, please don’t share it with me unless you received Robert’s approval.

Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page at He also wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on