- NAME: Boris Karloff
- OCCUPATION: Film Actor
- BIRTH DATE: November 23, 1887
- DEATH DATE: February 02, 1969
- Did You Know?: Boris Karloff was one of the founding members of the Screen Actor's Guild.
- Did You Know?: In the opening credits for Frankenstein, Boris Karloff's name wasn't mentioned. Instead there was only a question mark, which was used as a promotional gimmick.
- Did You Know?: Two of Boris Karloff's most memorable roles were as the monster in Frankstein and as the Grinch and narrator in the animated short How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
- EDUCATION: London University
- PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
- PLACE OF DEATH: Midhurst, United Kingdom
- Originally: William Henry Pratt
- AKA: Boris Karloff
Best Known For
Boris Karloff was an English-born actor who played the monster in Frankenstein and became synonymous with horror films of the 1930s.
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Born in 1887 in London, Boris Karloff took the role of the "Monster" in 1931's Frankenstein after Bela Lugosi refused to take the part. Karloff's performance received huge praise and he became an overnight sensation. His career was mostly spent in popular horror films, where he brought a pathos to the characterization,
"The monster was the best friend I ever had."
such as in The Mummy (1932) and The Black Cat (1934). He is also well known for providing the voice of the narrator and the Grinch in the 1966 classic holiday cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
Actor Boris Karloff was born William Henry Pratt in London, England, on November 23, 1887. He studied at London University, then went to Canada after eloping with his first of six wives, Grace Harding. After relocating, his passion for becoming a diplomat like his father had waned, and started to become more involved in acting.
Upon his arrival to Canada, Karloff worked as a laborer. He then went to Hollywood and spent 10 years in repertory companies as a character actor, appearing in 45 silent films for Universal Studios. Among the roles films he worked in were The Last of the Mohicans (1920), Forbidden Cargo (1925) and an installment in the popular Tarzan series, Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927). Karloff would come across his big break after starring in a string of unnoticed roles.
When Bela Lugosi refused to take a role in which he would have his face hidden by makeup and have no lines, the role of "The Monster" in 1931's Frankenstein went to Karloff. Although this would come to be one of Karloff's most recognizable roles, it wasn't expected to be a popular film, much less a breakout role for the unknown actor. And with Colin Clive earning top billing as Dr. Frankenstein and Mae Clarke receiving second billing, the actual actor behind the face paint of the monster remained a mystery.
Karloff's tender, sympathetic performance received enormous critical praise and he became an overnight sensation. He donned the signature make up, boots and neck bolts to play the monster once again in the popular Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and the less successful Son of Frankenstein in 1939.
Apart from a notable performance in the World War I story, The Lost Patrol (1934), Karloff's career was mostly spent in popular horror films. His performances frequently transcended the crudity of the genre, bringing, as in Frankenstein, a depth and pathos to the characterization.
In 1932, Karloff appeared in several dark films, including the gangster drama Scarface, the black comedy The Old Dark House, the sci-fi horror film The Mask of Fu Manchu and he starred as the undead Im-Ho-Tep in The Mummy. The consecutive roles as villains and monsters helped cement his reputation as a horror actor, allowing Karloff to join the ranks of actors like Vincent Price and Lugosi.
By appearing in films such as The Ape (1940) and The House of Frankenstein (1944) in the 1940s, Karloff was able to keep his frightening persona on the silver screen alive.
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