The world’s most famous and intriguing haunted doll will be taken out of his secured, glass display case at Fort East Martello Museum from October 28-30. But have no fear-Robert the Doll will not be lurking about. Instead, he will join Key West Art & Historical Society Curator Cori Convertito, PhD, on a trip to Las Vegas to be featured on Travel Channel’s new television program ‘Zak Bagans: Mystery Mansion.’
“This is a wonderful opportunity to let people get to know Robert the Doll and the impact he has made on many people’s lives,” says Convertito.
With more than 20 million weekly viewers, Travel Channel’s paranormal show host Zak Bagans will bring light to Robert’s mesmerizing and eerie history that began just after the turn of the 20th century when he was created as a one-of–a-kind Harlequin doll by the Steiff Company in Germany- a company credited with the invention of the teddy bear- as a gift for young Gene Otto, son of prominent Key West doctor Joseph Otto.
Legend has it Robert possesses a negative energy. Many historical accounts support this lore; even young Gene placed blame on the doll for everything negative that happened, claiming “Robert did it.” The bond between he and the doll extended beyond childhood. As a grown man, Gene- an accomplished architect and artist who had exhibitions at Fort East Martello- built a special room for Robert in the turret of the Eaton Street home he shared with his wife Anne, a talented concert pianist. The doll remained in the home for nearly seven decades, which has since gone through phases of being both a private residence and guesthouse, with several reports of eerie, unexplainable events that have caused even skeptics to speculate that “Robert did it.”
Robert now sits at Fort East Martello Museum where visitors must seek his permission to take his photograph, lest they be bombarded with bad luck. Fan mail continues to arrive daily from as far away as Australia, the UK and Japan, underscoring Robert’s global appeal to people and cultures of all ages. Aside from a trip to a TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) convention in St. Petersburg with Membership & Program Director Gerri Sidoti, he has been encased in glass with high-tech alarms since 1994 and has otherwise never been out of Key West.
As part of Key West Art & Historical Society’s diverse permanent collection, Robert represents a facet of “Key West’s weird and wonderful history,” says Convertito.
Robert will return home just in time for Halloween. Fans of the 41-inch tall excelsior-stuffed doll can see him in his case and also find a treasure trove of merchandise in his likeness by visiting the museum store or going online at KWAHS.ORG/SHOP. For more information, contact Cori Convertito at 305.295.6616 x 112.