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Boris Karloff ACTOR


Boris Karloff, born Henry William Pratt in East Dulwish, London, England on November 23, 1887, the youngest of nine children, was most famous for being an English actor who appeared as the monster in "Frankenstein" at the age of 44.  He was thought of as the black sheep of his family growing up. No one deemed him for success.  He was married six times and had one daughter, Sara Karloff Cotten.  In 1907, he won admission to the University of London, King's College, London, England and his original goal in life was to become a diplomat like his father.  School was not his forte and he had always dreamt of becoming an actor but was ridiculed by his family.  However, at the age of 21, in 1909 he eloped with his first wife, Olive Wilton, and left England to go live in Canada.  

He worked as a laborer and then joined various touring companies and slowly was becoming known as a skilled actor. It was at this time he chose to change his name to Boris Karloff.   Within eight years he had already done forty-five silent films working for Universal Studios.  "The Last of The Mohicans", "Forbidden Cargo", and a division of the "Tarzan" series were among those early films.  During his 12 year acting period, from 1919 to 1931, he had roles in various films such as "Cheated Hearts", "The Infidel", "The Altar Stairs", "Omar, The Tentmaker", "The Prisoner", "Dynamite Dan", "Lady Robinhood", "The Golden Web", and many more.  His first significant hit film was Howard Hawks' "The Criminal Code" in 1931.  He was making a weekly salary of $750 and had clearly earned this as in 1932 alone he completed 9 films.  It was perhaps on the film "The Criminal Code" where James Whale took first notice of Boris Karloff.  An actor by the name of Bela Lugosi turned down the part of the monster in "Frankenstein" and therefore the role went to Boris Karloff.  His performance earned him critical acclaim and was the biggest jump in his acting career.  From there on out Boris appeared in dozens of similar films.

There were only a few times during his acting career that he varied slightly from horror films and emerged in films such as "The Lost Patrol".  He also appeared on Broadway in 1941 in "Arsenic and Old Lace" and as Captain Hook in "Peter Pan" in 1950.  He also did a film in 1968 titled "Targets", directed by Peter Bogdanovich which was also one of his all time greatest.  He is also remembered for his voice-over work, such as the 1965 cartoon version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!" where Karloff narrated and played The Grinch. 

Boris Karloff was known within the film industry as a kind man with a gentle manner.  He also played a big role in the foundation of SAG (Screen Actors Guild) in 1933.  In 1956 he was a Tony actor Drama Nominee and in 1967 he won a Grammy for best recording for children.  Boris loved children and was actively involved in charities benefiting children; he would dress up every year as Santa Claus and go to the children's hospital in Baltimore and visit with the physically disabled children.  Despite his monster persona, children adored him.  He even succeeded in having a lifetime acting career, despite his strong "lisp". His last work, made in Mexico in 1968, was a trio of low budget films, "The Incredible Invasions" being the last to be released in 1971. 

In 1958 Boris Karloff hosted a horror suspense anthology series for television "The Veil" that never aired but is able to be viewed in its entirety.

Karloff battled emphysema for quite a few years before passing away at a Sussex hospital in England on February 2nd, 1969. He was cremated following a requested low key service.  He chose to retain his British citizenship in 1955 and only travel to America for work.  He also never actually legally changed his name to Boris Karloff, but signed all documents as William H. Pratt aka Boris Karloff.

Karloff has been remembered in various ways for his contribution to film and television.  He was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; one at 1737 Vine street for Motion Pictures and the other at 6664 Hollywood Boulevard for Television.  He was even featured by the US Postal service as Frankenstein's monster and the Mummy in its series "Classical Monster Movie Stamps" issued in September 1997.  Most important however, is that Boris Karloff will always be remembered as the King of Horror and it is unlikely that an actor of his caliber will follow in his foot steps in years to come.


1916 The Dumb Girl of Portici
1918 The Lightning Raider
1919 The Masked Rider
1919 His Majesty, the American
1919 The Prince and Betty
1920 The Deadlier Sex
1920 The Courage of Marge O'Doone
1920 The Last of the Mohicans
1921 The Hope Diamond Mystery
1921 Without Benefit of Clergy
1921 Cheated Hearts
1921 The Cave Girl
1922 The Man from Downing Street
1922 The Infidel
1922 The Altar Stairs
1923 Omar the Tentmaker
1923 A Woman Conquers
1923 The Gentleman from America
1923 The Prisoner
1924 Riders of the Plains
1924 The Hellion
1924 Dynamite Dan
1925 Parisian Nights
1925 Forbidden Cargo
1925 The Prairie Wife
1925 Perils of the Wild
1925 Never the Twain Shall Meet
1925 Lady Robinhood
1926 The Greater Glory
1926 Her Honor, the Governor
1926 The Bells
1926 The Nickel-Hopper
1926 The Golden Web
1926 The Eagle of the Sea
1926 Flames
1926 Old Ironsides
1926 Flaming Fury
1926 Valencia
1926 The Man in the Saddle
1927 Tarzan and the Golden Lion
1927 Let It Rain
1927 The Meddlin' Stranger
1927 The Princess from Hoboken
1927 The Phantom Buster
1927 Soft Cushions
1927 Two Arabian Knights
1927 The Love Mart
1928 The Vanishing Rider
1928 Burning the Wind
1928 Vultures of the Sea
1928 The Little Wild Girl
1929 The Devil's Chaplain
1929 The Fatal Warning
1929 The Phantom of the North
1929 Two Sisters
1929 Anne Against the World
1929 Behind That Curtain
1929 The King of the Kongo
1929 The Unholy Night
1930 The Bad One
1930 The Sea Bat
1930 The Utah Kid
1930 The Mother's Cry
1931 Sous les verrous
1931 The Criminal Code
1931 King of the Wild
1931 Cracked Nuts
1931 Young Donovan's Kid
1931 Smart Money
1931 The Public Defender
1931 I Like Your Nerve
1931 Graft
1931 Five Star Final
1931 The Yellow Ticket
1931 The Mad Genius
1931 The Guilty Generation
1931 Frankenstein
1931 Tonight or Never
1932 Behind the Mask
1932 Alias the Doctor
1932 Business and Pleasure
1932 Scarface
1932 The Miracle Man
1932 Night World
1932 The Old Dark House
1932 The Mask of Fu Manchu
1932 The Mummy
1933 The Ghoul
1934 The Lost Patrol
1934 The House of Rothschild
1934 The Black Cat
1934 Gift of Gab
1935 Bride of Frankenstein
1935 The Raven
1935 The Black Room
1936 The Invisible Ray
1936 The Walking Dead
1936 Juggernaut
1936 The Man Who Changed His Mind
1936 Charlie Chan at the Opera
1937 Night Key
1937 West of Shanghai
1938 The Invisible Menace
1938 Mr. Wong, Detective
1939 Devil's Island
1939 Son of Frankenstein
1939 The Mystery of Mr. Wong
1939 Mr. Wong in Chinatown
1939 The Man They Could Not Hang
1939 Tower of London
1940 The Fatal Hour
1940 British Intelligence
1940 Black Friday
1940 The Man with Nine Lives
1940 Doomed to Die
1940 Before I Hang
1940 The Ape
1940 You'll Find Out
1941 The Devil Commands
1942 The Boogie Man Will Get You
1944 The Climax
1944 House of Frankenstein
1945 The Body Snatcher
1945 Isle of the Dead
1946 Bedlam
1947 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
1947 Lured
1947 Unconquered
1947 Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome
1948 Tap Roots
1948 The Emperor's Nightingale
1949 Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff
1951 The Strange Door
1952 Colonel March Investigates
1952 The Black Castle
1953 Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
1954 The Island Monster
1954 The Hindu
1957 Voodoo Island

1958 The Veil
1958 The Juggler of Our Lady
1958 The Haunted Strangler
1958 Corridors of Blood
1963 Black Sabbath
1963 The Terror
1963 The Raven
1964 Bikini Beach
1964 The Comedy of Terrors
1965 Die, Monster, Die!
1966 The Daydreamer
1966 The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini
1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
1967 The Venetian Affair
1967 Mad Monster Party?
1967 The Sorcerers
1968 Targets
1968 Curse of the Crimson Altar
1968 The Fear Chamber
1968 House of Evil
1971 The Incredible Invasion
1971 Isle of the Snake People

Matinee Classics - Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with Boris Karloff
Matinee Classics - The Fatal Hour starring Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, Marjorie Reynolds, Charles Trowbridge, Frank Puglia, Craig Reynolds, Lita Chevret, Harry Strang, Hooper Atchley and Richard Loo
Matinee Classics - The Fatal Warning starring Helene Costello, Ralph Graves, George Periolat, Philips Smalley, Boris Karloff, Lloyd Whitlock, Syd Crossley, Thomas G. Lingham, Symona Boniface, Martha Mattos and Gertrude Astor
Matinee Classics - Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff
Matinee Classics - Boris Karloff
Matinee Classics - Boris Karloff
Matinee Classics - Boris Karloff
Matinee Classics - Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome starring Ralph Byrd, Anne Gwynne, Boris Karloff, Skelton Knaggs, Edward Ashley, June Clayworth, Lyle Latell, Tony Barrett, Jim Nolan, Joseph Crehan and Milton Parsons
Matinee Classics - The Mystery of Mr. Wong starring Boris Karloff, Grant Withers, and Dorothy Tree
Matinee Classics - The Vanishing Legion starring Harry Carey, Edwina Booth, Yakima Canutt and Boris Karloff

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