It Came From the Toy Box: Did Mattel’s Creepy 1960s ‘Baby Secret’ Doll Ever Whisper to You in the Dark?

black and white image from a 1966 commercial for Mattel's
Screenshot from
"I like to whisper in the dark ..."

Sometimes, things meant to fill kids with a sense of fun and happiness can unwittingly have the opposite effect. Case in point: some children’s toys and other playthings that, either at the time one first played with them or after looking back at them decades later as an adult, actually come off as being weird, at best, and sometimes outright terrifying. It Came From the Toy Box will look at some of these nightmarish items.

We start with Mattel‘s Baby Secret doll from the mid 1960s. I’m glad that neither my sister nor I were around at the time to experience this thing.

Ostensibly, Baby Secret is a pretty cool feat of toy technology, especially for its time. It’s a baby doll that looks somewhat realistic. Beyond that, it has the ability to “tell” secrets to the human it is with via a whispery voice that emanates from moving lips that are activated by a pull string.

black and white image from a 1966 commercial for Mattel's Baby Secret doll. The doll is on the right and looking at the little girl on the left (seen from the back) who is holding her.


Problem is, this comes off as something straight out of The Twilight Zone; if the “Living Doll”/Talky Tina episode of that series had not aired before Baby Secret was available, I would have sworn it must have been based on this toy. Perhaps Mattel was, instead, inspired by Zone when it brought this entity into the world?

Because Baby Secret ultimately presents as creepy versus cuddly. It may not make threats to hurt and kill like Talky Tina does (at least as far as I know), but seeing its lips move, and especially hearing the tone of its very low, sometimes halting, whisper, is unnerving. Particularly when that whisper is used to utter some of its frankly strange pre-programmed phrases.

Phrases like:

“Is anyone else awake?”

“I … want … to tell you something …”

“Hold me close and whisper …”

“Don’t talk so loud.”

And, most eerily of all:

“I like to whisper in the dark.”

(Hearing Baby Secret utter that last phrase somehow made me think of H.P. Lovecraft‘s horror novella The Whisperer in Darkness.)

You can see (and hear) that in this 1966 commercial, which I assume was created to promote Baby Secret in a fun and exciting light, but honestly has the opposite effect on me. (By the way, the little girl in the commercial is a pre-Brady Bunch Eve Plumb.)

“It’s almost unbelievable!” exclaims the commercial’s narrator. “You never know what she’ll say next! … She looks so real, the way her lips move like yours!”

Yeah, my guy, all of that is a big part of the problem, and not the selling points you think they are.

I don’t know if what is heard in this commercial constitutes all of what Baby Secret was programmed to say. I also can’t confirm if, at any point, to certain people, Baby Secret came up with some of her own dialogue as she whispered in the night, like telling a kid to get the matches from the kitchen or reciting a spell from the Necronomicon.

black and white screengrab from a 1966 commercial for Mattel's "Baby Secret" doll. It is an extreme closeup with the doll's face on the left, turned toward the voice of its human owner (played by young Eve Plumb). The baby doll appears to be whispering into the girl's ear, and the girl is smiling.


What arcane and forbidden knowledge is Baby Secret imparting to an eagerly receptive Eve Plumb?


One positive about this toy that I can see is that, because it is activated by a pull string, you would be unlikely to trigger a sudden, sinister whispering voice beneath your feet if you accidentally stepped on the doll in the darkness while stumbling to the bathroom in the middle of the night.

And if you think Baby Secret seems like it would have been unsettling enough fresh out of the box back in the day, then feast your eyes upon a couple of six-decade-old Baby Secrets available for sale on eBay; both distressed, dirty and ragged from age, looking like Chucky or Pennywise the clown in one of Its guises:

color image of a 1960s used and very distressed Mattel "Baby Secret" doll for sale on eBay. The doll is dirty and worn, and is wearing a red onesie with a white collar on which reads: "Baby Secret" in red letters. The doll has red hair which has thinned with age.

screenshot from eBay/hedgevitch

color image of a used and very distressed/dirty 1960s Baby Secret doll from Mattel, for sale on eBay. The doll is seated on a table, wearing a red onesie with a white collar on which reads "Baby Secret" in red letters. The doll has red scraggly and thinned-with-age hair.

screenshot from eBay/RetroStache Collectibles

The one in the top photo was going for $65 or best offer when I looked; the other for $75 of best offer.

Nah, I’m good. I’ll just put Baby Secret back in the hellish toy box from which it sprang.

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