Boris Karloff

Birthday: Nov 23, 1887
Birthplace: Camberwell, London, England, UK
The long-reigning king of Hollywood horror, Boris Karloff was born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887, in South London. The youngest of nine children, he was educated at London University in preparation for a career as a diplomat. However, in 1909, he emigrated to Canada to accept a job on a farm, and while living in Ontario he began pursuing acting, joining a touring company and adopting the stage name Boris Karloff. His first role was as an elderly man in a production of Molnar's The Devil, and for the next decade Karloff toiled in obscurity, traveling across North America in a variety of theatrical troupes. By 1919, he was living in Los Angeles, unemployed and considering a move into vaudeville, when instead he found regular work as an extra at Universal Studios. Karloff's first role of note was in 1919's His Majesty the American, and his first sizable part came in The Deadlier Sex a year later. Still, while he worked prolifically, his tenure in the silents was undistinguished, although it allowed him to hone his skills as a consummate screen villain.Karloff's first sound-era role was in the 1929 melodrama The Unholy Night, but he continued to languish without any kind of notice, remaining so anonymous even within the film industry itself that Picturegoer magazine credited 1931's The Criminal Code as his first film performance. The picture, a Columbia production, became his first significant hit, and soon Karloff was an in-demand character actor in projects ranging from the Wheeler and Woolsey comedy Cracked Nuts to the Edward G. Robinson vehicle Five Star Final to the serial adventure King of the Wild. Meanwhile, at Universal Studios, plans were underway to adapt the Mary Shelley classic Frankenstein in the wake of the studio's massive Bela Lugosi hit Dracula. Lugosi, however, rejected the role of the monster, opting instead to attach his name to a project titled Quasimodo which ultimately went unproduced. Karloff, on the Universal lot shooting 1931's Graft, was soon tapped by director James Whale to replace Lugosi as Dr. Frankenstein's monstrous creation, and with the aid of the studio's makeup and effects unit, he entered into his definitive role, becoming an overnight superstar. Touted as the natural successor to Lon Chaney, Karloff was signed by Universal to a seven-year contract, but first he needed to fulfill his prior commitments and exited to appear in films including the Howard Hawks classic Scarface and Business or Pleasure. Upon returning to the Universal stable, he portrayed himself in 1932's The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood before starring as a nightclub owner in Night World. However, Karloff soon reverted to type, starring in the title role in 1932's The Mummy, followed by a turn as a deaf-mute killer in Whale's superb The Old Dark House. On loan to MGM, he essayed the titular evildoer in The Mask of Fu Manchu, but on his return to Universal he demanded a bigger salary, at which point the studio dropped him. Karloff then journeyed back to Britain, where he starred in 1933's The Ghoul, before coming back to Hollywood to appear in John Ford's 1934 effort The Lost Patrol. After making amends with Universal, he co-starred with Lugosi in The Black Cat, the first of several pairings for the two actors, and in 1936 he starred in the stellar sequel The Bride of Frankenstein. Karloff spent the remainder of the 1930s continuing to work at an incredible pace, but the quality of his films, the vast majority of them B-list productions, began to taper off dramatically. Finally, in 1941, he began a three-year theatrical run in Arsenic and Old Lace before returning to Hollywood to star in the A-list production The Climax. Again, however, Karloff soon found himself consigned to Poverty Row efforts, such as 1945's The House of Frankenstein. He also found himself at RKO under Val Lewton's legendary horror unit. A few of his films were more distinguished -- he appeared in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Unconquered, and

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

CREDIT
No Score Yet How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Ultimate Edition Actor 2018
No Score Yet Extreme Fairy Tales - Featuring the Emperor's Nightingale Actor 2004
No Score Yet Heroes of Horror Actor 2001
No Score Yet Transylvania Twist Himself 1989
No Score Yet Monsters and Maniacs Actor 1988
No Score Yet Blood Flood Actor 1974
No Score Yet The Fear Chamber (Torture Zone) (The Torture Chamber) Actor 1972
No Score Yet Curse of the Crimson Altar Prof. Marshe 1970
No Score Yet Alien Terror Prof. John Mayer 1969
No Score Yet Dance of Death Actor 1968
No Score Yet Snake People Carl van Molder / Damballah 1968
88% Targets Byron Orlok 1968
No Score Yet Dance of Death Actor 1968
No Score Yet Torture Zone Actor 1968
No Score Yet The Venetian Affair Dr. Pierre Vaugiroud 1967
100% How the Grinch Stole Christmas Narrator/The Grinch 1967
No Score Yet Mondo Balordo Actor 1967
70% Mad Monster Party Baron Boris von Frankenstein 1967
100% The Sorcerers Prof. Marcus Monserrat 1967
No Score Yet Cauldron of Blood Franz Badulescu 1967
No Score Yet The Daydreamer The Rat 1966
No Score Yet Ghost in the Invisible Bikini The Corpse 1966
71% Die, Monster, Die! Nahum Witley 1965
No Score Yet Bikini Beach Actor 1964
88% The Comedy of Terrors Amos Hinchley 1964
No Score Yet Mondo Balordo Actor 1964
36% The Terror (The Haunting) (The Castle of Terror) Baron Victor Frederick Von Leppe 1963
No Score Yet Corridors of Blood Dr. Thomas Bolton 1963
88% Black Sabbath (I Tre volti della paura) (The Three Faces of Fear) (The Three Faces of Terror) Himself/Gorca 1963
92% The Raven Dr. Scarabus 1963
No Score Yet Frankenstein - 1970 Baron Victor von Frankenstein 1958
No Score Yet Grip of the Strangler (The Haunted Strangler) James Rankin 1958
No Score Yet Destination Nightmare Actor 1958
No Score Yet Veil Actor 1958
No Score Yet Jack the Ripper Actor 1958
No Score Yet Voodoo Island Phillip Knight 1957
No Score Yet Il mostro dell'isola (The Island Monster) Don Gaetano 1954
63% Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Dr. Henry Jekyll 1953
No Score Yet Sabaka Gen. Pollegar 1953
No Score Yet The Black Castle Dr. Meissen 1952
No Score Yet The Strange Door Voltan 1951
No Score Yet Golden Age of TV Dramas Actor 1951
No Score Yet Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff Swami Talpur 1949
No Score Yet Tap Roots Tishomingo 1948
No Score Yet Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (Dick Tracy Meets Karloff)(Dick Tracy's Amazing Adventure) Gruesome 1947
80% Unconquered Guyasuta - Chief of the Senecas 1947
83% The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Dr. Hollingshead 1947
100% Lured Artist 1947
89% Bedlam Master George Sims 1946
86% Isle of the Dead Gen. Nikolas Pherides 1945
83% The Body Snatcher Cabman John Gray 1945
No Score Yet The Climax Dr. Hohner 1944
55% House of Frankenstein Dr. Gustav Niemann 1944
No Score Yet The Boogie Man Will Get You Prof. Nathaniel Billings 1942
No Score Yet The Devil Commands Dr. Julian Blair 1941
No Score Yet You'll Find Out (Here Come the Boogie Men) Judge Spencer Mainwaring 1940
40% The Ape Dr. Bernard Adrian 1940
No Score Yet Before I Hang Dr. John Garth 1940
No Score Yet Doomed to Die James Lee Wong 1940
No Score Yet The Man with Nine Lives Dr. Leon Kravaal 1940
No Score Yet British Intelligence Valdar 1940
No Score Yet The Fatal Hour James Lee Wong 1940
No Score Yet Tower of London Mord the Executioner 1939
80% The Man They Could Not Hang Dr. Henryk Savaard 1939
No Score Yet Mr. Wong in Chinatown James Lee Wong 1939
No Score Yet Mystery of Mr. Wong Actor 1939
No Score Yet Devil's Island Dr. Charles Gaudet 1939
91% Son of Frankenstein The Monster 1939
No Score Yet The Mystery of Mr. Wong James Lee Wong 1939
No Score Yet Mr. Wong, Detective Mr. James lee Wong 1938
No Score Yet West of Shanghai Gen. Wu Yen Fang 1937
No Score Yet Charlie Chan at the Olympics Gravelle 1937
No Score Yet Night Key David Mallory 1937
No Score Yet The Man Who Changed His Mind Dr. Laurience 1936
No Score Yet Charlie Chan at the Opera Gravelle 1936
No Score Yet The Walking Dead John Ellman 1936
63% The Invisible Ray Dr. Janos Rukh 1936
No Score Yet Juggernaut Dr. Victor Sartorius 1936
No Score Yet The Black Room Baron Gregor de Berghmann 1935
100% The Raven Edmond Bateman 1935
100% The Bride of Frankenstein The Monster 1935
No Score Yet Black Friday Actor 1934
No Score Yet Gift of Gab Cameo Appearance 1934
100% The House of Rothschild Count Ledrantz 1934
100% The Lost Patrol Sanders 1934
87% The Black Cat Hjalmar Poelzig 1934
No Score Yet The Ghoul Prof. Henry Morlant 1933
93% The Mummy Ardath Bey 1932
100% The Old Dark House Morgan 1932
No Score Yet Night World "Happy" MacDonald 1932
100% Scarface Gaffney 1932
No Score Yet The Cohens and Kellys in Hollywood Actor 1932
88% The Mask of Fu Manchu Dr. Fu Manchu 1932
No Score Yet Tonight or Never The Waiter 1931
100% Frankenstein The Monster 1931
No Score Yet The Guilty Generation Tony Ricca 1931
No Score Yet The Mad Genius Fedor's Father 1931
91% Five Star Final `Reverend' Vernon Isopod 1931
No Score Yet I Like Your Nerve Luigi 1931
No Score Yet Pardon Us The Tiger (in French version only) 1931
No Score Yet Smart Money Sport Williams 1931
No Score Yet Cracked Nuts First Revolutionary 1931
No Score Yet The Criminal Code Ned Galloway 1931
No Score Yet Mother's Cry Murder Victim 1930
No Score Yet The Sea Bat Corsican 1930
No Score Yet King of the Kongo Actor 1929
No Score Yet Behind That Curtain Manservant 1929
No Score Yet Two Arabian Knights Purser 1927
No Score Yet Tarzan and the Golden Lion Chief of the Waziri 1927
No Score Yet The Bells Actor 1926
No Score Yet The Nickel Hopper Dance Hall Masher 1926
No Score Yet Old Ironsides A Saracen Guard 1926
No Score Yet Dynamite Dan Tony 1924
No Score Yet The Last of the Mohicans Actor 1920
No Score Yet His Majesty the American Actor 1919

TV

CREDIT
No Score Yet The Wild Wild West
1965-1969
Maharajah Singh
  • 1966

QUOTES FROM Boris Karloff CHARACTERS