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True Tales of Haunted Dolls

Dolls have long been a source of amusement for both children and adults. However, they can also bring terror as well as joy. Read on for chilling true tales of haunted dolls and possessed playthings. 

The Legend of Robert the Doll

When it comes to haunted dolls, Robert is arguably America’s most famous. The Key West doll is a fixture on local ghost tours and even served as an inspiration for Chucky in Child’s Play.

robert the haunted doll

Robert belonged to Key West painter and author Robert Eugene Otto. In 1906, a Bahamian maid reportedly gave the doll to Robert and then cursed the toy after Robert’s parents displeased her. Soon after the maid’s departure, strange events began plaguing the Otto household.

Young Robert enjoyed talking to his namesake, and servants insisted the doll talked back. They also claimed the plaything could change expressions at will and move about the house on his own. Neighbors reportedly saw the doll move from window to window when the family was away, and members of the Otto household heard maniacal giggles emanating from the toy.

Robert the Doll spooked plenty of folks during the day, but at night he focused on young Robert Otto. The boy would wake in the middle of the night, screaming in fear, as the heavy furniture in his room crashed to the floor. When his parents demanded to know what happened, Otto’s response was always the same: “Robert did it! It was Robert.”

Robert Otto died in 1974, and his notorious doll now sits on display at the Fort East Martello Museum in Key West. Legend has it the doll will curse anyone who takes a photo without permission, which Robert grants by slightly tilting his head. Visitors who forget can always beg for forgiveness which is what cameramen from the Travel Channel did after their HD camera mysteriously stopped working.

haunted doll

The Eyes Follow You

Though dolls like Robert grab headlines and spark imaginations, they’re not alone. Hundreds of haunted doll tales fill ghost blogs and forums across web, including one from an average woman in Moundsville, WV.

Years ago, the woman had a grade school friend named Emily and the two spent a lot of time at Emily’s home. The entire house had a strange feeling to it, but it was the attic that was the most unnerving.

“The attic was finished, but had that ‘death’ smell to it, like an abandoned building,” the woman writes. “It was always cold, despite the hot air that would rise from the floors below. The attic contained four small rooms, and one room was entirely devoted to dolls which I always found terrifying.”

One afternoon, the girls played with a few of the dolls until Emily’s grandmother called them to lunch. They placed the rag dolls back on the shelf, but one tumbled off just as they were about to leave. This was strange as the doll fell in a way that seemed physically impossible. Puzzled, the woman returned the doll to its shelf and went downstairs to eat. However, that wasn’t the end of the encounter.

“Later on that day, Emily and I were playing in the woods adjacent to her house, and I squatted down to pick up a pretty stone,” the woman writes. “When I went down, I felt something poking me in my pocket. I put my hand in the pocket, and I found two doll eyes …the eyes from the doll I had picked up earlier that day. Needless to say, I have been terrified of dolls ever since.”


Haunted Doll Sites

Though most people avoid haunted dolls, some have a passion for possessed playthings and share their knowledge and interest online.

The Doll House Cam

The Doll House Cam streams videos of haunted dolls 24/7, giving armchair ghost hunters the chance to spot a possessed doll in action.

“Set in a farmhouse in rural Pennsylvania, amongst the mountains and streams, is a little known secret,” reads the title page of “Seven dolls that once were loved by little girls now adorn the home of a family of five. They don’t just sit on a shelf looking pretty. These porcelain beauties, for lack of a better description, have taken on a life of their own.”

David’s Haunted Dolls

doll_eyesDavid’s Haunted Dolls is dedicated to educating the public about haunted dolls and the best way to care for any “Spirit Children” they might come across.

“A haunted doll is not your everyday Betsy Wetsy,” he writes. “Haunted dolls are real life spirits that are attached to a certain host doll. Nobody really knows if the spirit picks that host doll, or if they are just drawn there, but we do know it happens. You might even have a haunted doll in your home, and not even know it.”

AJ’s Haunted Dolls

Folks looking to buy a haunted doll need look no further than AJ’s Haunted Dolls. The site offers a variety of creepy playthings, ranging from the innocent and sweet to the dark and destructive.

“Each and every one of my Spirit Children and paranormal items are unique in their own special way,” AJ writes. “Not only because they are inhabited with a beautiful spirit, but because of the vessel they have chosen. I try and collect a variety of hosts, spirits, and unique paranormal magical items.”

Have you had an experience with a haunted doll? Think haunted doll stories are crap? Sound off in the comments below.

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  • Peggy Boyle

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I do not aspire to collect haunted dolls, but I do like read about them. I am a very curious person about a lot things. The ventriloquest’s dummies of old is what scares me the most, followed by clowns; certain ones anyway. I have seen all of the “Chucky” movies; it is amazing! He just keeps coming back like bad penny! Keep sharing with us!!

  • Peggy Boyle

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I do ñot aspire to collect any haunted dolls, but I do like to read about them. I am a very curious person by nature. What does scare me is ventrilôquist’s dummies of old; they are so creepy! Certain clowns creep me out too; both from childhood to the present

  • Dana Wilson

    Around 2004, I had awakened suddenly from a deep sleep. I felt very anxious, but could not recall any particular dream that may have contributed to this feeling. I lived by myself as I had divorced in 1999 and my children were grown and out of the house. I turned on my lamp, picked up my bible laying on the table beside me and began to read. Suddenly, the sound of a music box began to play. I followed it to a doll that had belonged to my grandmother and was sitting on a sewing cabinet across the room. It played for around 30 seconds or so. I had no idea that the doll even had a music box in it. I was very afraid, but determined that whatever was trying to scare me would not have power over me. I felt something tell me to pick up the doll and make peace with it. I got out of bed, walked over to the doll and kissed it, then prayed for peace. It took me awhile to calm down and I had to turn on soft music and sleep with the light on. I ended up getting rid of the doll . I have a large doll from the famous Schwartz Toy Store in New York City that belonged to her. It was given to her when she was 6, which means it was purchased in 1909. My daughter swears it’s haunted. I have decided to get rid of this as well as my grandmother’s other personal items as our family seemed to have an unclean spirit and I believe that maybe there is a bad spirit attached to these items.

  • anonomyssy

    google Romanian Gypsy doll found in australia…creepiest story I’ve ever read.

  • Kitty

    I actually have a decently large collection of creepy dolls, a couple of them are in fact haunted. I was inspired by the Story of Mandy. After that I just had a thing for them. One day I want to start a website or something, but I’m not positive yet. Another good haunted doll story is Annabel (not sure of the spelling) a possessed Raggidy Ann Doll.

  • Ariana Valentine

    I love creepy haunted dolls. I have porcelain dolls, rag dolls, & a doll that does things on it’s own.

  • Sebastian

    As of right now, I was searching through websites for a haunting story due to a doll that I have…My father died 9 years ago and a few years after I bought this adorable doll named “brenda” It said that on the tag, and it had a music box inside that played the Nutcracker song, and well…. My father had taken upon himself to play with it in the middle of the night…alll…night…long…. Ug. He’s driving me up the walls. I know, he’s my father..I have to love him..but playing that f*cking box ALL NIGHT LONG has pissed me off after two years… I duck taped the doll to the rocking chair that I had it in and removed the turnkey and put it under my bed in my diary. I put the doll in the garage..and faithfully..EVERY SINGLE F*CKING NIGHT it goes on it’s so annoying. I’m thinking of having an exorcism just to make him go away…I’m sick of him. He knows that musical dolls scare the f*ck outta me…. HE’s been torturing me since seeing a documentary on a haunting of dolls… -.- discovery isnt always good…

  • genesis

    u crazy cx

  • Sean

    There is no such things as ghosts, ghouls, or possession. Anyone who says they have experienced a paranormal anything either has a vivid imagination, are bold faced lying, or were convinced by someone else who was a better liar then they were. Evil only exists in men. Humans are the only creatures that can commit horrible actions and create “demons” in themselves. Paranoid delusions and wild imagination have created what everyone knows to be “ghosts, demons, poltergeists, spirits etc…”. Fear is to blame

  • Ethiopian

    As of right now, I woke up to a terrible dream. I am on my phone typing this. I had a dream or I should say nightmare about a creepy “fairy-doll” who was hanging in the air at the corner of the room. Nothing held it up high but itself. I remember my mom tried to take it down with her hands and it worked. So then another creepy doll popped up in another side of the room with russian letters on it and a paper beside it on the wall saying “Congratulations! You found me!” I then remember in my nightmare my two close friends came over and they kept appearing. So we simply had to take them and throe them off the balcony.

  • Shaded Zaleph

    Yeah, because my father “imagined” a small man’s eyes turning glowing
    red, and throwing seven full grown men off like they’re rag dolls. He
    also imagined the “man” cursing God’s name and demanding to be let out
    of the church as the congregation held his writhing body down. My mother
    also “imagined” her shoes being levitated off the ground by a demon, as
    well as the possessed man who gained jumping power unlike any human on
    planet Earth. You’re the perfect example of a hypocrite, not because you
    claim that the paranormal is BS, but because you claim it’s BS without
    actually researching any of the information whatsoever.

  • Lisa Swaggart

    You apparently live in a bubble and are the worst kind of non-believer, I never wanted what happened to me but now several years later and what I’ve seen, I doubt no more. I’ve been visited, touched and affected by those who are no longer with us, 2 of whom I was related to. I bare scars from 1 of my encounters. Maybe your lucky? I am not.

  • Lisa Swaggart

    Years back I heard alot of sirens and when I looked out there was a blaze not very far from our house. We didn’t know who lived in that house but we were walking our dog a few days later and when we went by the ruins my husband found what what left of a horrifying looking doll. Some strange and not good things started happening after he brought that damn home, it is now locked in a storage shed. It’s evil looking and I don’t think I want to know anything about it. It scares me.

  • Sean

    Michael Shermer’s “Why People Believe Weird Things”, “The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark” by Carl Sagan, “Fundamentals of Physics” by Robert Resnick, Jearl Walker, and David Halliday, “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking. (A few books ranging from easy to moderate difficulty that will help explain of what I speak) Science, rationality, math and faith in ones own mind disprove all things that go bump in the night. It is ok to be afraid sometimes, I know I am, but it is of reasonable things like poisonous spiders, cancer, wild bear attacks while hiking/hunting, getting in a car accident, not being able to provide for my family etc…life is too short to waste time dreading the shadows on the wall. Dive deeper then just fear itself, you’ll be surprised to find the world is a little less haunted then what the imagination leads everyone to believe.

  • Sean

    I also stand by my first post and I hardly believe I am or ever was the worst of anything. Generalizing anyone to be anything without really knowing them isn’t usually a mark of intelligence. A final side note; developing bitterness or resentment over an online opinion is like becoming bitter about someone you don’t know 2000 miles away getting a flat tire and blocking traffic…(there is no point to it)

  • Sean

    Consider looking up pediophobia and even looking at the simple wiki explaination of the phobia. The phobia itself is real and can be rationalized but nothing further then that.

  • Sean

    People whom choose to believe in their fear are controlled by it, being forced to see and feel what is not there because the mind is powerful enough to fool the senses time and time again.

  • Sean

    An example of imagination creating real life sensation as a result of fear would be the relatable experience of feeling a spider crawling on you, maybe after just seeing one.

  • Sean

    Yes, it was all imagination. I have read more about this then I care to admit, I can claim that I didn’t get my facts from cinema and I know a fair amount about the subject. I’m not saying it’s “BS” because I wish to agitate anyone, I’m saying it’s “BS” because it is and you seem to relish in your ability to perpetuate fear and hold a grudge for thoughts outside your little personal box of knowledge.

  • Sean


  • Sean

    I also don’t believe you understand the meaning of the word hypocrite.

  • Jeeeaaaaa

    Soo Creeepyyy! >_< How can i sleep later? 😀 So Scaweeyyy

  • Kaela Mansfield

    That’s like saying you have too vivid of an imagination to belive we can’t be the only planets with lifeforms. You can’t tell people that they believed a lie or their imagination is vivid when you have no proven facts that it is in no way real. Unless you have studied and tested and debunked it all in every possible way there is, what’s makes you such an expert? That’s why the term “the unkown“ is used…… cant entirely disprove phenomenons especially when you have not studied every single detail that has to do with the subjects you claim to be an expert on and I can pretty much bet my life on that fact!

  • jackie

    I love reading about possessed dolls, so fascinating

  • Sean

    I never claimed to be an expert, but I can say I am an educated and rational man. My point however is in fact that an imagination can be overly active and projections of irrational thought (based on fear) are symptomatic and very much so, real. I also can say that no, I have personally debunked nothing, but I also will never have to. Scores of people have done that for me. Countless books have been written, published and validated by life long investigators disproving everything the avid believer “knows” to be true. I listed a few of the many that help try to explain something that seems to be taking a great amount of difficulty to grasp. I also will say that i don’t need to spend the night in a Cemetery or abandoned psych-ward to know that what you are so passionately trying to defend, is absolute nonsense. Life, by the way, is a foolish thing to bet, especially when the intent is so misdirected.

  • Sean

    I believe I have been nothing, if not polite. Maybe what I have said is unpalatable? It makes me sad that so many otherwise intelligent and rational people would throw away reason and logical explanation for the fear of admitting that their personal belief may be flawed.

  • Sean

    Thank you, finally another rational thinker on this forum.

  • Jhazzyl Agarrado

    yeah itss trruuueeee!!!! and i love about reading urban legends

  • Sean

    Thank you for comparing me to such a great mind, I take it as an inappropriate and unjustified, but flattering compliment. I am wondering why my trying to be informative with a monodimensional opinion, that differs from the quantitative “yours,” suddenly makes me rude? I feel like i have only commited appropriate responses to so many whom are so quick to belittle me on a personal level for my beliefs. It seems that so many people have a stong will to ask questions they already know the answer to, but always get a bitter taste in their mouth when they recieve the answer that’s not already on their own lips. After all, how did anyone find their way to this particular forum if they didnt have questions to ask or answers to give? Maybe there are those who came here seeking an answer that sounded a lot like mine. How did you arrive here? Is it because you have an irrational and unexplained fear from which you wish to find an answer? I am not sure where this illusion came from that I have all the right answers to everything, but again it is flattering for you to assume such things of me. Are you afraid of the greater concept i present to you? People who are afraid often cast away those who symbolize the ideals of which they do not understand. Is this why you want me to find a new forum to speak on? You mentioned that some guys just have all the answers to everything, could it be that your perverbial “guy” is just the one who may have the right answer? Or are you your own perseption? Are you the one who is always right reguardless of what the true answer is? I reiterate, i have yet to be rude outright, i have only tried to impose the provokation of deeper thought, and for that, you are most welcome. I will stay on this forum for however long I desire, your sarcasm is like this forum to me…. it means absolutley nothing.

  • Sean

    I find it depressing that the subject of doll possession and the discussion around it’s two main revolving arguments has turned unfairly into a meaningless battle of me trying to defend myself. I, however, don’t find it to be shocking that no one has had a spark of wonder in themselves to question their norms as i still seem to be the black sheep here.

  • Sean

    At this point, the only reason I haven’t left this forum is because I am most sure that the vast majority of those who have been on it would like me to admit some sort of guilt to giving wrong information and leave. I just dont want to facilitate anyone’s false joy or satisfaction of believing that it was their pithy comment that shuffled me away. I am however still enthused for continuing the conversation i originally came here for and insist that; calm, thought out and polite comments work best for reaching a common ground in any conversation, especially for one that is obviously so sensitive for everyone here.

  • Sean

    So, how about it? Can we pick this back up? I have given numerous, rational and solid reasons as to to why I believe all of this is hogwash…can anyone please prove me wrong by doing the same? Help me see why i am logically incorrect because so far all anyone has attempted to do is dump on me and my opinion for no other real reason than “Boo, hiss! Different then what I believe!! Boooo!”

  • Sean

    Is it really “a fact” that any doll you own is haunted? A fact is something in which its validity can be backed up with hard evidence. May I humbly request some hard evidence please?

  • Darklover On Wattpad

    Actually, if ghosts did exist, and people started to come back from dead to have revenge, no human or at least killers would be alive by now… just sayin’

  • sarah

    I have bought several From the seller hollyoddites13 on ebay..authentic!! I really was surprised that it is legit. I didn’t believe at first. I have heard good things about AJ dolls too.

  • Nicole

    Hi Sean. I am interested in talking with you about your ideas further. I haven’t read back thru all of your comments, but I can see you are an intelligent guy who is simply stating (like everyone else on here) what you believe to be the truth. I was very skeptical of this idea as well, but have investigated a case of haunted dolls and was very surprised at the results. I know I can’t say from a scientific view that I have proven anything. But all of science is theory, right? Theories with evidence that supports said theory. Anyways, my evidence is very interesting in my opinion. Thanks 🙂

  • Nicole

    Please see the comment I left for you above.

  • Anthony Quinata

    Hi, I just ran across this site. I own Harold the Doll. The same doll that was seen on Ghost Adventures during the Island of the Dolls episode.

  • Sean

    Hello Nicole, thank you for taking the time to read some of my comments. What would you like to share with me? I am interested in what you have to say as well, if only to have the conversation move forward. If you haven’t read the entirety of the conversation, I encourage you to do so. It will help you paint a better picture of not just my belief structure on this subject but of everyone on here, for their sake and yours, should anyone care to rejoin with an opinion.

    Theory becomes fact when all chances and variables for the theory to be wrong have been eliminated or when sufficient evidence can be provided to support it.

  • Sean

    Tell me if you could please, what makes you believe Harold the Doll is haunted? Do you have video evidence of this doll moving or doing anything but sit there like the lump it is? Do you believe it is cursed and does harm to those who seek it’s photo? Have you suffered personally from it’s malevolent dislcontent?
    Have you put it in a room sized, six sided perspex cube by itself and observed it over several months with a time lapse camera on it to see if it has the unique ability to move without assistance? I am curious to know because word of mouth or even seeing in an uncontrolled enviroment does not sufficiently provide me or anyone with enough proof to believe that this inanimate object has any amount consciousness. I also dont believe that it wouldn’t move for a camera for fear of being realized. I believe that if it did exist, a malevolent spirit that attached itself to inanimate object would want to be seen, to be recognized and would relish in the idea of more and more people being aware of it’s presence, not the other way around. Hard evidence sells belief to rational people, not “unaltered” video footage of uncontrolled enviroments and ghost stories.

    Please, help me believe if you can.

  • Sean

    And actually, i apologize for putting you on the spot, you never actually claimed this doll is haunted on this forum. That being said, may I ask you, please, do you even believe this doll is haunted to begin with? If not then thank you and please, disregard my previous comment and forgive me for aggressively trying to pry evidence from you. I am just trying to help others here believe that there is much less to be afraid of than what they believe to be true. If any one person can learn to shake their fears of the irrational then that, to me, makes this forum a successful venture of my time and efforts.

  • Sean

    Are you still available then?

  • Sean

    Perhaps what you experienced can be explained by reading the previous posts.