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Spalding is a mute butler at Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies. He is a character in Coven primarily portrayed by Denis O'Hare.


Born Otis Spalding Van Wirt, the first and only son of the prominent 1960s dollmaker Samuel Van Wirt and the singular heir to his slowly crumbling empire in Natchez, Mississippi, Spalding's tragic past ties him to the Academy and to the witches of the Coven.[1] 

Otis's mother, a woman much younger than the elderly Samuel Van Wirt, had been caught by her husband in the midst of a sexual affair with a man much closer to her own age and, fitting himself a devoutly religious man, Samuel was despondent to her pleas for help as he had her and her lover gagged, tasered with cattle prods, and thrown down an old well of his manor, murdering them both. Ever since, he became determined to find the "perfect" woman to be Otis's mother, and constructed a life-size dollhouse for his son to indulge in, where Samuel would kidnap unsuspecting women to pose as dolls for Otis's entertainment and force them to conduct specific tasks to determine which of them would be Otis's "new mother". Spoiled by his affluent upbringing, the young Otis did not fully grasp that his dolls were held in the dollhouse against their will, or that his father was killing those among them who did not meet his father's expectations.

One day, Otis met a new doll in his collection, another kidnapped woman by the name of Coby Dellum, who had been selected and nabbed by Samuel during a job interview at his toy factory. Initially unimpressed by Coby and her decision to dress as a clown, Otis's opinion of her quickly changed when he found himself amazed by her ability to move a toy firetruck on its own, and immediately formed a preference for Coby due to her awe-inspiring knack for "magic tricks". Although Coby initially tried to appeal to Otis's good graces to convince Samuel to free her and the other kidnapped women, she felt sympathy for Otis's unawareness of his biological mother's murder and his father's malevolent influence, and made a vow to him from that moment forward that she would protect him like the mother he always wanted.

After a failed escape attempt with the kidnapped women, who were killed in the process, Coby stayed behind to beg Otis to run away with her. Otis, wishing to keep her around so that he could enjoy her "magic tricks" forever, instead opted to taser her with a cattle prod, knocking her unconscious. As the last living survivor of the dollhouse, Coby's body was coated in a porcelain skin shell by Samuel, who at last achieved his vision of creating Otis's "perfect mother." Fortunately, Coby was rescued from her horrific plight by two robed women, witches, who had been made aware of Coby's distress from a telekinetic earthquake she caused during her procedure. Quickly dispatching Samuel and his henchman with their magic, the witches informed Coby of her inherent supernatural nature and of a safe haven for their kind in New Orleans, Miss Robichaux's Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies, where she would learn how to control her magic and be protected from the dangers of those who would seek to harm her.

Otis, knowing the witches would enact vengeance upon his father, begged Coby to bring him with her, not wanting to be left alone. Coby, forgiving Otis in the knowledge that he had known no other way of life than Samuel, agreed to uphold her promise to look after him, and decided to bring him to the Academy with her for a fresh start. However, she warned him that no one could ever become aware of his real identity or his reasons for being at the Academy, as people would be looking for him after his prolific father's death, and this enforced Otis to only go by his middle name from that day forward: Spalding. Upon his arrival, he met a young Myrtle Snow, who greeted him and expressed excitement over having a companion at the Academy her own age, telling him of her dream that she would someday run it. Ever since, Spalding served faithfully as the butler of Miss Robichaux's Academy for decades.

As a young man, Spalding quietly witnessed Fiona Goode murder Anna Leigh Leighton in her bid to surpass her as the next Supreme Witch; it was implied by Myrtle years after this that he dutifully aided Fiona in "cleaning up her mess", due to being in love with her, and later pled for her innocence before the Witches' Council, lying that Anna Leigh was certain Fiona was the next Supreme, which allowed her to be crowned by the Council. Myrtle, Fiona's rival, had the magical ability to detect mistruths, and bluntly told Fiona she suspected her of murder. She enchanted Spalding's tongue so that he could not tell lies, and then summoned the Council to question him about the death of Anna Leigh. As Myrtle confided these matters to a fellow witch during dinner, Spalding overheard everything while cleaning the table. That night, he slipped a note to Fiona asking her to meet him in a bathroom, where he told her his final words, "I have always loved you", and then proceeded to cut his own tongue out with a razor blade to avoid succumbing to Myrtle's spell. Spalding survived, but his screams attracted the other students to the bathroom. Myrtle noticed Fiona was in the bathroom before their headmistress did, and suspected that it was Fiona who removed Spalding's tongue to prevent him from speaking the truth.

Personality and Appearance[]

His traditional butler attire of a fine tuxedo is contrasted by his weathered face framed by long, scraggly hair and beard. His fingernails are yellowed and talon-like. He mutely endures the cruel teasing of Madison but perhaps only because he has had his tongue removed.


Spadling has kept to himself all these years, mostly staying inside the Academy and doing chores. While not doing chores, he has tea parties with his excessive collection of dolls. While most of the witches in the Academy treat Spadling politely, Fiona treats him like a normal servant, and occasionally insults his muteness with compliments about his silence. Madison is much crueler, asking if someone cut out his tongue because he was bad at giving oral sex.[2]

One night, while having a tea party with his dolls, he overhears Madison and Fiona coming home from the bar, and witnesses their conversation going awry when Fiona "accidentally" kills Madison,[3] the events mirroring what happened when Fiona killed Anna Leigh.[4] This time, he hands Fiona a handkerchief to wipe the blood off her hands and pours her a drink. He rolls Madison's body in a bloody rug and complies with Fiona's order to get rid of the body. Unknown to anyone, he kept Madison's corpse and added her to his collections of tea party dolls.[3]

During Fiona's inquisition, Myrtle knows that he knows who is responsible for the death of Anna Leigh and Madison, and the one responsible for cutting his tongue out. Had he written Fiona's name, she would have been sentenced to die by fire. However, technically speaking, if Myrtle did not enchant his tongue, he would not need to have cut it decades ago, and writes "Myrtle Snow" on the paper, infuriating Myrtle.[5]

Zoe finds out that Spalding has been keeping Madison's corpse in a trunk in the attic after communicating with the spirit of The Axeman. Zoe, Queenie, and Nan interrogate Spalding, who (through telepathy with Nan) claims that he was responsible for killing Madison because he was enchanted with her beauty, but Zoe is suspicious that he is not telling the truth.[6]

Later, Zoe recites an incantation, enchanting Spalding's tongue and returning it to his mouth. Spalding admits that Fiona was responsible for murdering Madison due to his tongue being enchanted to tell the truth, and Zoe stabs Spalding in the chest after this revelation, killing him.[7]

However, like The Axeman, his death in the house does not stop his involvement but rather empowers it; when Fiona is tricked into killing herself to support the rise of the new Supreme - Misty Day, rather than Madison as she was led to believe - Spalding returned, once again capable of speaking, and convinces her not to give in.[8]

Spalding is seen with Delphine and the hung man James with his guts hanging out and tells Delphine to get him an expensive doll and in return, he gives her Benadryl® as she thinks it will render the Voodoo Queen Marie mortal. Delphine stabs her and runs after she finds out that Marie was still immortal and runs down the stairs. Spalding knocks Marie out with a doll and says "I wanted her out of my hair." He takes her stolen baby and calls it his first "living doll".[9]

After the Trials of the Seven Wonders, a furious Madison getting ready to leave the Academy is attacked and choked to death by Kyle Spencer after refusing to resurrect Zoe. Shortly afterward, Spalding appears in the room and uses a doll's hand to caress Madison's hair as he suggests to Kyle that they should bury her, saying that no one would miss her body anyway as she was already packing. Kyle asks him who is he, and he introduces himself as "the help".[10]



  • To Fiona Goode: "These are my last words, Miss Fiona. I have always loved you."
  • Fiona Goode
    Spalding, you don't understand. I am finally... trying to do... something decent... something noble for the coven.
    Hmm. Horseshit! You're making a martyr of yourself by giving up. You've been tricked. You've allowed a pack of lesser witches to buffalo you into this ignominious end. I won't permit it.
    Fiona Goode
    I don't understand.
    They've been running a number on you.
    Fiona Goode
    Madison Montgomery is not the next Supreme. She didn't conquer death. She was brought back by some dirty little... swamp witch. They've been leading you to your doom with lies. Lies... you swallowed more easily than those pills.
  • To Zoe Benson: "FFFFFIONA! Fiona Goode! I say her name. I bless it. As long as there is a tongue in this head I will say it, I will always say her name! Fiona Goode! Our Supreme!"