Karloff, Boris


Karloff, Boris
(1887-1969)
   Born William Henry Pratt in England, the future actor immigrated to Canada in 1909, and after working in a variety of jobs, he turned to theater, acting in 1910 and taking the stage name Boris Karloff. He entered the United States in 1913 and found work as a film extra in Hollywood. His first known significant part was in His Majesty, the American in 1919. After taking a break from films, Karloff appeared in The Forbidden Cargo (1925), Her Honor the Governor (1926), and The Bells (1926). He successfully made the transition to sound and in 1931 appeared in 16 movies, most notably as the monster in Frankenstein. Karloff played in many horror films, including The Old Dark House (1932), The Mask of Fu Man Chu (1932), The Mummy (1932), The Ghoul (made in England in 1933), The Black Cat (1934), The Raven (1935), and he reprised his role as the monster in Frankenstein’s Bride (1935). He last appeared as the monster in Son of Frankenstein (1939). Karloff also appeared in The Body Snatcher in 1945. However, he had returned to the stage and had some success on Broadway and on tour in Arsenic and Old Lace in 1941. He only played minor film roles after 1945 but continued his successful stage career in The Linden Tree (1948), Peter Pan (1950), and The Lark (1955). Karloff returned to England in 1959, but he did appear in a number of television series and films, as well as in the movies in The Raven (1963), Targets (1968), and several low-budget foreign horror films.
   See also Cinema.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.