The real story of Robert, the haunted doll that inspired Chucky from Child's Play.


It may have been 20 years since I first saw Child’s Play, but you better believe it’s stayed with me.

After all, who could forget the iconic killer doll, Chucky, with his flame-red hair, wide blue eyes and evil grin?

With the re-make of horror classic released in Australia on June 20, fans like me are rejoicing and possibly just a tad afraid.

At least when we watch serial killer claim his next victims, we can tell ourselves Chucky is a work of fiction, right?

Actually, wrong.

It turns out Chucky is actually based on a “haunted” real-life doll, and when you hear his story you might be even more terrified than you were in the first place.

Meet Robert.

Chucky the doll
The real life Chucky (whose real name is Robert). Image: A&E.

Robert the Doll was gifted to Robert Eugene Otto his family’s maid in Key West, Florida in 1906. It's believed she practised black magic and voodoo, and put a curse on the doll before handing it over because she was unhappy.

Standing at 40-inches tall and dressed in a sailor-suit, the straw-stuffed doll looks creepy to most.

But legend has it that young Robert, who went by the name Gene, was immediately drawn to his new companion, naming him Robert after himself.

He would take the doll everywhere with him, including the family dinner table. To begin with, his parents thought it was sweet.

But then, according to Haunted Rooms, strange things started to happen.

First, Gene's parents heard a deep, unfamiliar voice and a creepy giggle coming from his bedroom.

Then there were footsteps in the night, as if someone was running from room to room.

Chucky's back. Watch the trailer for the 2019 remake of Child's Play:

Video by Youtube

What was most terrifying, though, was Gene's bone-chilling screams in the middle of the night.

Whenever his parents heard him, they'd rush into his room, only to find him hiding under his blankets, his belongings and furniture strewn all over the place.

"Robert did it!" he would cry over and over, according to Ranker.

The unexplained events drove many housekeeping staff to leave. And as word of the "haunted" doll spread, the Otto family struggled to find replacements for them; people were too terrified to come to their house.

Neighbours reported seeing a strange boy inside the house when the rest of the family was out. They said the boy looked just like Robert the Doll and would stare right at them through the window.

Despite all of this, Gene refused to get rid of his ‘friend’ and the doll remained in the house. Upon the death of his parents, Gene inherited the house and even gave Robert his very own room.

After Gene passed away in 1974, Robert was locked away in a trunk and put in the house’s attic.

He was later discovered by a new occupant, a 10-year-old girl who is said to have immediately fallen in love with it.


But just as he had done when Gene was alive, Robert began throwing furniture and moving around at night.

He mutilated other toys and even tied a cord around their dog's neck.

The family promptly put the doll back in the attic, ending his reign of terror.

While Child's Play director, Tom Holland, has never confirmed the rumours that Robert is the inspiration behind Chucky, it's easy why fans are convinced there is a link between the demonic dolls.

These day, you can visit Robert, otherwise known as Robert the Doll, Robert the Haunted Doll, or Robert the Enchanted Doll at the Key West Museum where he is on display behind a layer of safety glass.

He's a popular fixture and has attracted visitors from all around the world.

Just don’t take his photo without asking first, it seems he is a bit camera shy and has lashed out at those who haven’t asked his permission first. You can find many apology letters to Robert from those who didn’t first ask, adorning the walls of his new home.

Shona Hendley, Mother of Goats, cats and humans, is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education. She is an animal lover and advocate, with a morbid fascination for true crime and horror movies. You can follow her on Instagram.