Graveyard Shift

The True Story That Inspired The Charlie-No-Face Urban Legend 

Jodi Smith
Updated November 5, 2019 37.8k views 12 items

Many of the wildest urban legends in history are based on true stories. These cautionary tales have a seed of truth hidden in their center to boost their believability, like the Charlie-No-Face urban legend and the true story behind it

In 1919, a boy named Ray Robinson was severely injured and disfigured after accidentally touching a powerline near his home in Western Pennsylvania. The accident caused Robinson to lose his eyes, nose, and one hand and afterwards he would spend most of his life indoors, going out only for walks at night in order to avoid people.

This humble origin story launched the urban legend about Charlie-No-Face - aka The Green Man. The legend painted him as a monster or a ghost, glowing green from the accident that disfigured him, who stalked the Pennsylvania roads at night. 

The truth is much less sinister. 

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Robinson Was Actually A Very Kind And Loving Man

The newspaper that reported Robinson's miraculous recovery also noted "Yet, in spite of all his affliction, the boy is in good humor". Robinson's nephew said his uncle spent his time listening to the radio, mowing the lawn with a push mower, completing puzzles, or hiking behind his house.

People that would visit Robinson as teenagers described him as a "helluva nice guy" that liked to talk while sharing beer and cigarettes with friendly people. 

Some People Who Encounte... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The True Story That Inspired The Charlie-No-Face Urban Legend
Photo: Pierre Prestat/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0
Some People Who Encountered Robinson On His Walks Were Horribly Cruel

Once word got out that a man with a disfigured face was walking Pennsylvania's Route 351 alone at night, strangers from the area began to seek him out. Some of these strangers were horrible to Robinson, tricking him into drinking urine from beer bottles or physically assaulting the blind man. Others would convince Robinson that they would take him to a bar before abandoning him in the middle of nowhere.

After a few of these incidents, Robinson began to hide in the treeline when he heard a car approaching and only approached vehicles if he recognized the voice of the people inside.

Strangers Wishing To Be ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The True Story That Inspired The Charlie-No-Face Urban Legend
Photo: Jules Pecnard/Flickr/CC BY 2.0
Strangers Wishing To Be Friendly Offered Him Beer And Cigarettes

Not every person who sought out Charlie-No-Face mistreated him. Some of these strangers wanted to speak with him and would purchase beer, straws, and cigarettes before getting into their car and searching for him. 

If Robinson felt safe, he would join these strangers for a few beers - unopened by anyone but him - and cigarettes. He would talk about baseball or the weather and then Robinson would continue his walk.

Other Versions Of Robins... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The True Story That Inspired The Charlie-No-Face Urban Legend
Photo: skeeze/Pixabay
Other Versions Of Robinson's Story Involve Lightning Or Acid

There are several stories told about Robinson's accident. One version of his origin story claims he had been working in a factory and fell into acid that caused him to glow - hence the nickname the Green Man. Another version claimed he had been struck by lightning while another blamed radioactive contamination for causing his disfigurement and green skin.

Most of these stories claim he roamed the streets at night, chasing teens that park on old country roads at night and hiding in abandoned houses during the day.