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Boris Karloff
Boris Karloff
Birth name: William Henry Pratt
Gender: Male
Medium(s): Film; Television
Roles: Actor
Date of birth: November 23rd, 1887
Place of birth: Camberwell, London, England
Date of death: February 2nd, 1969
Place of death: Midhurst, Sussex, England
Notable works: Frankenstein
The Bride of Frankenstein
1st Horror: The Old Dark House (1932)

Boris Karloff was a British actor originally born William Henry Pratt of Camberwell, London, England. He was born on November 23rd, 1887 and passed away on February 2nd, 1969 in Sussex at the age of 81. He is considered one of the most iconic actors in the horror genre and was primarily active during the 1930s and 40s, but also appeared in numerous genre featured in the 1950s and up until his death in 1969.

Career Edit

Karloff is one of the most memorable icons of the classic age of horror cinema and is best remembered for being the first actor to immortalize the role of the Frankenstein Monster in James Whale's 1931 classic Frankenstein. The part was originally slated for Bela Lugosi, who had already achieved screen recognition playing the role of Count Dracula earlier that year in Dracula. According to conflicting accounts, Lugosi turned down the role and the part was then given over to Karloff. Boris resumed the part for Whale's 1935 sequel The Bride of Frankenstein. In this film, Karloff's character was given dialogue whereas in the previous film he was just a mute monster. Karloff didn't care for the dialogue scenes in The Bride of Frankenstein, as he felt it robbed the character of its mystique. Karloff would go on to play the role one final time in 1939's Son of Frankenstein. Although this was his last film as the Frankenstein monster, it was not in fact, his final Frankenstein role. In 1944, Karloff came back to the franchise, this time as the antagonistic mad scientist Doctor Gustav Niemann in House of Frankenstein. The monster in this film was played by Glenn Strange.

Although Karloff was done with Frankenstein films, he never strayed far from the horror genre. He appeared in dozens of films during the 1930s and 40s, usually playing opposite Bela Lugosi. Karloff and Lugosi's first film together was 1934's The Black Cat. In the film, Karloff played architect Hjalmar Poelzig, a man who matched wits against Lugosi's Vitus Werdergast. Karloff's character was named for German art director Hans Poelzig. In total, Karloff and Lugosi would star in eight films together including The Invisible Ray, Son of Frankenstein, The Raven, Black Friday, The Body Snatcher, You'll Find Out and the aforementioned The Black Cat.

In addition to the Frankenstein mythos and his work with Bela Lugosi, Karloff is known for introducing another horror-film icon to the silver screen. In 1932 (a year after Frankenstein), Karloff played the role of Imhotep in Universal's The Mummy. Although The Mummy spawned four sequels, Karloff only appeared in the first one. The subsequent films featured a mummy named Kharis who was played by Lon Chaney, Jr.

Karloff later brought his talent to another famous franchise when he played himself in the 1949 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff. Karloff teamed up with the comedy pair again in 1953, this time playing Doctor Henry Jekyll in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

In 1958, Karloff returned to his Frankenstein roots, this time playing the Doctor in the film Frankenstein 1970.

Boris continued to star in various genre films throughout the 1960s and 70s including Corridors of Blood, The Haunted Strangler, Die, Monster, Die! and a comedy remake of The Raven, playing opposite Vincent Price and Peter Lorre. Karloff's final film was the obscure 1971 movie, The Incredible Invasion, which was released posthumously.

Boris Karloff passed away on February 2nd, 1969 in Midhurst, Sussex, England.

Body of work Edit

Film Edit

Film Year Role
Frankenstein 1931 The Monster
The Old Dark House 1932 Morgan
The Mummy 1932 Im-ho-tep
The Ghoul 1933 Professor Morlant
The Black Cat 1934 Hjalmar Poelzig
Bride of Frankenstein 1935 The Monster
The Raven 1935 Edmond Bateman
The Black Room 1935 Baron Gregor de Berghman
The Invisible Ray 1936 Doctor Janos Rukh
The Walking Dead 1936 John Ellman
Son of Frankenstein 1939 The Monster
Tower of London 1939 Mord
Black Friday 1940 Ernest Sovac
The Ape 1940 Doctor Bernard Adrian
The Devil Commands 1941 Doctor Julian Blair
The Boogie Man Will Get You 1942 Professor Nathaniel Billings
House of Frankenstein 1944 Doctor Gustav Niemann
The Body Snatcher 1945 John Gray
Isle of the Dead 1945 Nikolas Pherides
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff 1949 Swami Talpur
The Strange Door 1951 Voltan
The Black Castle 1952 Doctor Meissen
Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 1953 Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
Island Monster 1954 Don Gaetano
Voodoo Island 1957 Phillip Knight
The Haunted Strangler 1958 James Rankin
Frankenstein 1970 1958 Victor von Frankenstein
Corridors of Blood 1958 Doctor Bolton
The Raven 1963 Doctor Scarabus
The Terror 1963 Doctor Victor Frederick Von Leppe
The Comedy of Terrors 1963 Hinchley
Die, Monster, Die! 1965 Nahum Witley
Mad Monster Party? 1967 Boris von Frankenstein
The Sorcerers 1967 Professor Marcus Monserrat
House of Evil 1968 Matthias Morteval
The Fear Chamber 1968 Doctor Carl Mandel
Cauldron of Blood 1970 Charles Badulescu
Isle of the Snake People 1971 Carl van Molder/Damballah
The Incredible Invasion 1971 Professor John Mayer

Television Edit


Series Episode Role
Thriller Man in the Cage Host

Notes & Trivia Edit

  • Outside of the horror genre, Boris Karloff is also known for providing the voice to the Grinch in the 1966 animated film How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

External Links Edit

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Universal Classics Actor or Crew member
This article relates to actors or production crew members pertaining to the Universal Classics era of films. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Universal Classics crew members category.
Frankenstein logo
Frankenstein Actor or Crew member
This article relates to actors or production crew members pertaining to the Frankenstein franchise.
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Jekyll and Hyde logo
Jekyll and Hyde Actor or Crew member
This article relates to actors or production crew members pertaining to the Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde franchise.
This template will categorize articles that include it into the Jekyll and Hyde crew members category.
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Thriller Actor or Crew member
This article relates to actors or production crew members pertaining to the Thriller television series. This template will categorize articles that include it into the Thriller crew members category.

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