Even before Chucky and Annabelle hit the big screen, many people professed a deep-seated mistrust of a very particular childhood staple: dolls. These misgivings are not without cause. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, when dolls became more lifelike in the 19th century, they wandered into the uncanny valley: a gray area in which something that looks almost human evokes a negative response. Dolls, with their vacant stare and human-esque physique, certainly fit the bill. Beyond that, humans have managed to attach a myriad of cultural rituals and folklore to dolls. With that in mind, here are 6 dolls who’ve somehow gone above and beyond with their creep factor and garnered international fame for being haunted.
The story of Annabelle became infamous with the release of The Conjuring and Annabelle films. The real Annabelle is a Raggedy Ann doll that, while much less sinister in appearance, made quite a name for itself in the 1970s. Annabelle was given to a nursing student, Donna, by her mother. Donna, and her roommate Angie would often return home to discover that the doll had changed positions and or moved rooms. They’d also find handwritten notes scrawled onto parchment paper asking for help. In their book, paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren indicate that the behavior went on for nearly a year before they became involved and ultimately took Annabelle into their care. In late 2020, rumors began to circulate that Annabelle had escaped the Warren’s Occult Museum, a panic that was eventually assuaged when the Warren’s son posted a picture of Annabelle safely in her case.
As the story goes, Okiku was purchased by a young man sometime around 1918 in Japan, as a gift for his younger sister. Tragically, after a year, the little girl passed away from a severe case of the flu. The family created a shrine in her memory, placing the large doll on display. Sometime later, they noticed the doll’s hair, which had originally been cut in a short bob, had grown past its shoulders. When the family moved in 1938, they entrusted the doll to the care of the Mennenji Temple in Hokkaido, where caretakers continue to maintain Okiku and her ever-growing hair.
Now residing at Zak Bagans of Ghost Adventures’ Haunted Museum, “Lilly '' was made during the 1800’s in Germany, and features real human hair. According to the museum’s Facebook post, she was discovered by an antiques dealer, who took her home but, “began having recurring nightmares about “a little girl who had a very bad accident”. She was subsequently put up for sale at the antique shop. On one occasion, a customer’s little girl spoke to the doll for 3 hours, interacting with her like a fellow child. She informed the proprietor that “’Lilly’ was a little girl that had been subjected to “extreme violence.” When first encountering the doll, Bagans reported that he felt an “immense energy” radiating from the figurine.
Robert the Doll
Robert came to the Otto family of Key West, Florida in the early 1900’s as a gift to their youngest son Robert Eugene Otto. The boy and doll became inseparable, with the child often laying blame for his misdeeds on the doll. The family alleged that the toy often seemed to change positions of its own accord. They also claimed that when their son was alone in his room, they could hear him conversing with the doll, and the doll responding in a completely different voice. After Eugene’s death in 1974, Robert was given to the East Martello Museum. Visitors who have taken his picture without permission claim to have experienced terrible misfortune as a result of their transgressions. Robert is surrounded by letters of apology and admiration.
Ruby is a porcelain doll with a penchant for moving around from place to place. Currently residing with the Traveling Museum of the Paranormal and the Occult, she comes from mysterious origins. Her previous owners said she had originally belonged to a little girl in the family, who died while holding the toy. Following that tragedy, she was passed down through generations until coming to her current residence at the museum. Visitors often report experiencing an overwhelming feeling of sorrow radiating from Ruby.
Short for “Letta-Me-Out”, Letta is a 200-year-old wooden doll with human hair. He was discovered beneath a house in Wagga Wagga Australia by his current caretaker, Kerry Walton. Walton told the Warwick Daily News, "I reckon he walks in the night time: We came in here, as a new house, and I've never heard so many strange things in my life”. He’s found scuff marks on the floor of his home as well as objects mysteriously shifted. Walton has brought Letta with him to multiple television interviews, and has started an Instagram page dedicated to the doll.