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Boris Karloff

Mostly Credited As: Boris Karloff
Sometimes Credited As: Karloff

Birth Name: William Henry Pratt
Date Of Birth: November 23, 1887 (Age 81)
Country Of Birth: United Kingdom
Birth Place: Camberwell, London, England
Date Of Death: February 02, 1969
Cause Of Death: Pneumonia and complications from emphysema
Height: 5' 11" (1.8 m)

Boris Karloff


Born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887, to Edward John Pratt Jr., and Eliza Sarah Millard, in Camberwell, London, Boris was later raised in Enfield. After his parents passed away he was raised by his older siblings. His dark complexion was most likely brought about from the mixed heritage of his maternal grandmother, who was part Indian. Karloff himself frequently claimed Russian ancestry to explain his exotic looks, but his daughter Sara has stated she has no knowledge of any Slavic ancestry.

Originally Karloff planned to follow in the footsteps of his brother Sir John Henry Pratt, a diplomat, and enter into the foreign service, even seeking his education at London University. His plans changed though after he was bitten by the "acting bug". In 1909 he packed his bags and headed to Canada with the promise of work in the Jeanne Russell Theater Co. in Kamloops, British Columbia. The next few years saw him change his name and cut his teeth on the theater circuit of North America, working his way through Canada and the United States. In 1912, he spent a brief time as a rescue worker after a tornado hit Regina, Saskatchewan, following his appearance in a play there. Due to health reasons, he was unable to fight in World War I, so for the next 10 years he continued to tour in regional theater companies until eventually making his way to California.

Arriving in Hollywood without much money, Karloff immediately began looking for work in the new medium of silent film. Some of his earliest appearances were in films like, The Dumb Girl Of Portici (1916), Omar the Tentmaker (1922), Perils Of The Wild (1925) and Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927). He got his biggest break though when in 1931, Universal Pictures planned to follow up their success with Dracula by casting Bela Lugosi as "The Monster" in Frankenstein. Lugosi turned down the role and instead it went to Karloff. The film was a huge success and opened the doors to a brilliant career for Boris. The following year he made Scarface, The Old Dark House, The Mask Of Fu Manchu and The Mummy. A short time later he was brought back to play the role that made him famous in the sequel The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935). With box office gold on their hands, Universal quickly began pairing the masters of menace, Karloff and Lugosi, in such films as The Black Cat, The Raven and, in Boris' last official appearance as "The Monster", Son Of Frankenstein (1939) with Lugosi as "Ygor". It wasn't his last Frankenstein film though, he returned as "Dr. Neimann" a mad scientist who resurrects the classic creatures Dracula, the Monster and the Wolfman in House of Frankenstein (1944).

He continued making movies into the 50's and 60's while also exploring other opportunities in the early days of television. Often appearing as himself and playing up his horror background for comedic effect he appeared on programs like The Milton Berle Show (1948), and The Red Skelton Show (1951). He also had a few shows of his own like Starring Boris Karloff (1949), The Veil (1958) and Thriller (1960). He even showed a kindlier side with vocal performances in children's programming like Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966) and the stop motion animated Mad Monster Party? (1967).

Sadly, just as his career was experiencing a revival and he was becoming known to a whole new generation of fans, Boris passed away on February 2, 1969. He was cremated and interred at Guildford Crematorium, England, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance.

Boris Karloff
TV Appearances

Main cast 
Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)As: Narrator (Grinch) -- [Voice]
Out of This World (UK) (1962)As: Host
Thriller (US) (1960)As: Host
The Veil (1958)As: Host
The Betty White Show (1958) (1958)As: Himself
Colonel March of Scotland Yard (1956)As: Colonel March
Down You Go (1951)As: Himself (panelist (1954-1955))
Starring Boris Karloff (1949)As: Himself
The Dr. Seuss ShowAs: Narrator, The Grinch, Various Background Characters, Chorus -- [Voice]
Episode Cast Credits 

The Name of the Game (1968) 
  The White Birch 01x11: (Nov/29/1968) As Orlov 

I Spy (US) (1965) 
  Mainly on the Plains 02x22: (Feb/22/1967) As Don Ernesto 

The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (1966) 
  The Mother Muffin Affair 01x03: (Sep/27/1966) As Mother Muffin 

The Wild Wild West (1965) 
  The Night of the Golden Cobra 02x02: (Sep/23/1966) As Mr. Singh 

Shindig (1964) 
  Halloween ‘65 with Boris Karloff; Ted Cassidy 02x14: (Oct/30/1965) As Himself 

Route 66 (1960) (1960) 
  Lizard's Leg and Owlet's Wing 03x06: (Oct/26/1962) As Himself 

Thriller (US) (1960) 
  The Incredible Doktor Markesan 02x22: (Feb/26/1962) As Dr. Conrad Markesan 
  Dialogues with Death 02x11: (Dec/04/1961) As Pop Jenkins/Colonel LeJean 
  The Last of the Sommervilles 02x07: (Nov/06/1961) As Dr. Farnham 
  The Premature Burial 02x03: (Oct/02/1961) As Dr. Thorne 

Hallmark Hall Of Fame (1951) 
  Arsenic and Old Lace 11x02: (Feb/05/1962) As Jonathan Brewster 
  The Lark 06x04: (Feb/10/1957) As Bishop Cauchon 

The DuPont Show Of The Month (1957) 
  Treasure Island 03x07: (Mar/05/1960) As Billy Bones 

Playhouse 90 (1956) 
  To the Sound of Trumpets 04x10: (Feb/09/1960) As Guibert 
  Heart of Darkness 03x07: (Nov/06/1958) As Kurtz 
  Rendezvous in Black 01x04: (Oct/25/1956) As Ward Allen 

General Electric Theater (1953) 
  The Indian Giver 07x32: (May/17/1959) As Henry Church 
  Mr. Blue Ocean 03x29: (May/01/1955) As Mr. Blue Ocean 

Studio One (1948) 
  The Shadow of a Genius 10x26: (Mar/31/1958) As Prof. Theodore Koering 
  A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court 04x36: (May/19/1952) As guest star 
  Mutiny on the Nicolette 04x12: (Dec/03/1951) As guest star 

Shirley Temple's Storybook (1958) 
  The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 01x04: (Mar/05/1958) As Father Knickerbocker/Narrator 

Telephone Time (1956) 
  The Vestris 03x25: (Feb/25/1958) As Dr. Pierre 

The Veil (1958) 
  Destination Nightmare 01x09: (Unaired) As Peter Wade Sr. 
  The Return of Madame Vernoy 01x08: (Unaired) As Charles Goncourt 
  Summer Heat 01x07: (Unaired) As Dr. Francis Mason 
  Genesis 01x06: (Unaired) As Jonas Atterbury 

Suspicion (1957) 
  The Deadly Game 01x11: (Dec/09/1957) As Judge Winthrop Gelsey 

This Is Your Life (1952) (1952) 
  Boris Karloff 05x10: (Nov/20/1957) As Himself 

The Dinah Shore Chevy Show (1956) 
  Season 2, Episode 2 02x02: (Oct/27/1957) As Himself 
  Season 1, Episode 9 01x09: (May/17/1957) As Himself 

The Lux Video Theatre (1950) 
  The Man Who Played God 07x33: (Apr/25/1957) As Montgomery Royle 
  Fear 03x14: (Dec/08/1952) As Larkin 
  The Jest of Hahalaba 02x19: (Dec/31/1951) As Sir Arthur 

Climax! (1954) 
  Bury Me Later 03x01: (Sep/06/1956) As Vicar 
  The White Carnation 01x09: (Dec/16/1954) As Dr. Philip Nestri 

This Is Your Life (UK) (1955) 
  Eamonn Andrews 01x01: (Jul/29/1955) As Himself 

The Best Of Broadway (1954) 
  Arsenic and Old Lace 01x05: (Jan/05/1955) As Jonathan Brewster 

Suspense (US) (1949) 
  The Signal Man 05x41: (Jun/23/1953) As guest star 
  The Black Prophet 05x28: (Mar/17/1953) As Rasputin 
  The Lonely Place 04x17: (Dec/25/1951) As guest star 
  The Yellow Scarf 01x13: (Jun/07/1949) As guest star 

Tales of Tomorrow (1951) 
  Past Tense 02x33: (Apr/03/1953) As Dr. Henry Marco 
  Memento 01x21: (Feb/22/1952) As guest star 

Robert Montgomery Presents Your Lucky Strike Theatre (1950) 
  Burden of Proof 04x31: (Mar/30/1953) As guest star 
  The Kimballs 03x06: (Nov/19/1951) As guest star 

The Milton Berle Show (1948) 
  Season 5, Episode 11 05x11: (Dec/16/1952) As Himself 
  Season 4, Episode 33 04x33: (Apr/29/1952) As Himself 
  Season 4, Episode 4 04x04: (Oct/09/1951) As Himself 
  Season 3, Episode 13 03x13: (Dec/12/1950) As Himself 

Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (1951) 
  The House of Death 01x40: (Jul/04/1952) As Charles Brandon 

Lights Out (1949) 
  The Leopard Lady 03x04: (Sep/18/1950) As guest star 

Ford Theatre (1948) 
  Arsenic and Old Lace 01x07: (May/11/1949) As Jonathan Brewster 
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Trivia

Karloff was not Universal's first choice to play the Monster in FRANKENSTEIN, they wanted Bela Lugosi who turned it down.

Boris is the Narrator and the voice of the Grinch in the animated holiday classic, DR. SEUSS' HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS!

In the credits for Universal's 1931 film FRANKENSTEIN Karloff is not listed, instead his identity is intentionally made a mystery by the listing, "The Monster played by ?"

He is often sited as inspiring the look of the comicbook character, The Incredible Hulk.

After his death, Boris was cremated, following a requested low-key service, at Guildford Crematorium, Godalming, Surrey, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance.

Boris lived out his final years at his appropriately named cottage, 'Roundabout,' in the Hampshire village of Bramshott back in his home country of England.

Boris was known in real life as a very kindly gentleman who gave generously especially to children's charities.

Boris wasn't called to fight in WWI due to health reasons.

Boris once lived in Minot, North Dakota for a year, performing in an opera house above a hardware store.

Boris often claimed Russian ancestry to explain his exotic looks, though his daughter Sara Karloff publicly denied any knowledge of Slavic forebears.

More Trivia
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