Happy 131st Birthday Boris Karloff

Today is Boris Karloff’s 131st birthday.  I first learned about him through a book I was reading as a kid called “The Three Investigators Mystery of Terror Castle.”  They are a series of books a lot like the Hardy Boys, but set in the Los Angeles area in the 1940’s.  The Terror Castle one is the first in the series and centers around the mysterious goings-on at the abandoned Hollywood mansion of a silent movie monster actor.  Shortly after reading that book, my mom must have shown me one of his movies and I connected them in my head.  His Hollywood name change was from William Henry Pratt to a more mysterious sounding name to reflect the types of roles he played. It served him well and his nearly 50 year film resume remains as proof. There is an entire season of the You Must Remember This podcast dedicated to Bela Lugosi and him, it is absolutely brilliant. The world is a better place because Boris was in it and still feels the loss that Boris has left.


NAME: Boris Karloff
BIRTH DATE: November 23, 1887
DEATH DATE: February 02, 1969
EDUCATION: London University
PLACE OF BIRTH: London, England
ORIGINALLY: William Henry Pratt
REMAINS: Buried, Guildford Crematorium, Guildford, Surrey, England

BEST KNOWN FOR:  Boris Karloff was an English-born actor whose name became synonymous with horror movies.

Actor. Film star Boris Karloff, whose name became synonymous with the horror genre, was born William Henry Pratt in London, England, on November 23, 1887. He studied at London University, then went to Canada and the United States, aiming become a diplomat like his father, and became involved in acting.

Karloff spent 10 years in repertory companies, went to Hollywood, appearing in forty five silent films for Universal Studios, among them The Last of the Mohicans, Forbidden Cargo and an installment in the popular Tarzan series. 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. His tender, sympathetic performance received enormous critical praise and he became an overnight sensation.

“The monster was the best friend I ever had.”

Apart from a notable performance in a World War I story, The Lost Patrol (1934), his 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.

He is also well known for providing the voice to the 1966 cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Karloff was known within the film industry for his great kindness and gentleness of manner; he was also central to the foundation of the Screen Actors Guild. After battling emphysema for a number of years, Boris Karloff died at his home in England on February 2, 1969.

Alien Terror (Apr-1971)
Isle of the Snake People (Mar-1971)
Cauldron of Blood (16-Feb-1970)
Targets (15-May-1968) · Byron Orlok
The Sorcerers (2-Jan-1968)
Dance of Death (1968)
The Fear Chamber (1968) · Dr. Karl Mantell
Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)
Mad Monster Party? (8-Mar-1967) · Baron Frankenstein [VOICE]
The Venetian Affair (18-Jan-1967)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (23-Dec-1966) [VOICE]
The Daydreamer (Jun-1966) [VOICE]
The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (6-Apr-1966)
Die, Monster, Die! (27-Oct-1965) · Nahum Witley
Bikini Beach (22-Jul-1964) · The Art Dealer
The Comedy of Terrors (22-Jan-1964) · Hinchley
Black Sabbath (17-Aug-1963) · Himself
The Terror (17-Jun-1963) · Baron Victor von Leppe
The Raven (25-Jan-1963) · Scarabus
Corridors of Blood (6-Sep-1962)
Frankenstein 1970 (20-Jul-1958)
The Haunted Strangler (3-Jul-1958)
Voodoo Island (Feb-1957) · Phillip Knight
Island Monster (2-Jan-1954)
Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1-Aug-1953) · Dr. Henry Jekyll
The Black Castle (15-Dec-1952)
The Strange Door (8-Dec-1951) · Voltan
Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (18-Sep-1949)
Tap Roots (25-Aug-1948)
Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1-Oct-1947)
Unconquered (24-Sep-1947)
Lured (28-Aug-1947)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (14-Aug-1947) · Dr. Hollingshead
Bedlam (10-May-1946) · George Sims
Isle of the Dead (1-Sep-1945) · Gen. Pherides
The Body Snatcher (25-May-1945) · Cabman John Gray
House of Frankenstein (1-Dec-1944)
The Climax (20-Oct-1944) · Dr. Friedrich Hohner
The Boogie Man Will Get You (22-Oct-1942) · Prof. Nathaniel Billings
The Devil Commands (3-Feb-1941)
You’ll Find Out (22-Nov-1940) · Judge Mainwaring
The Ape (30-Sep-1940)
Before I Hang (17-Sep-1940)
Doomed to Die (12-Aug-1940) · James Lee Wong
The Man with Nine Lives (18-Apr-1940)
Black Friday (29-Feb-1940)
British Intelligence (29-Jan-1940)
The Fatal Hour (15-Jan-1940) · Mr. Wong
Tower of London (17-Nov-1939)
The Man They Could Not Hang (17-Aug-1939)
Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1-Aug-1939) · Mr. James Lee Wong
The Mystery of Mr. Wong (8-Mar-1939) · Mr. Wong
Son of Frankenstein (13-Jan-1939) · The Monster
Devil’s Island (7-Jan-1939)
Mr. Wong, Detective (5-Oct-1938) · Mr. Wong
The Invisible Menace (22-Jan-1938)
West of Shanghai (28-Oct-1937) · Wu Yen Fang
Night Key (18-Apr-1937)
Charlie Chan at the Opera (5-Dec-1936)
The Man Who Changed His Mind (11-Sep-1936)
The Walking Dead (14-Mar-1936) · John Ellman
The Invisible Ray (20-Jan-1936) · Dr. Janos Rukh
The Black Room (15-Jul-1935)
The Raven (8-Jul-1935)
Bride of Frankenstein (22-Apr-1935) · The Monster
The Black Cat (3-May-1934) · Hjalmar Poelzig
The House of Rothschild (15-Mar-1934)
The Lost Patrol (16-Feb-1934) · Sanders
The Ghoul (Aug-1933) · Prof. Morlant
The Mummy (22-Dec-1932) · Imhotep
The Mask of Fu Manchu (5-Nov-1932) · Dr. Fu Manchu
The Old Dark House (20-Oct-1932) · Morgan
Night World (5-May-1932)
Scarface (31-Mar-1932) · Gaffney
Tonight or Never (17-Dec-1931)
Frankenstein (21-Nov-1931) · The Monster
The Guilty Generation (19-Nov-1931) · Tony Ricca
Five Star Final (26-Sep-1931)
I Like Your Nerve (12-Sep-1931) · Luigi
The Public Defender (31-Jul-1931) · Professor
The Criminal Code (3-Jan-1931)
The Sea Bat (5-Jul-1930) · Corsican
Behind That Curtain (28-Jun-1929)
Two Arabian Knights (23-Sep-1927) · The Purser
Tarzan and the Golden Lion (20-Mar-1927)
The Bells (30-Jul-1926)

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