By Scoop Malinowski
Status: Famous actor renowned for his horror roles, in particular, as the Frankenstein monster in 1930’s Universal Horror movies. This Biofile about Boris Karloff was done with his daughter Sara.
DOB: November 23, 1887 In: East Dulwich, London, England
Passed Away: February 2, 1969
Given Name: William Henry Pratt.
Hobbies/Interests: “His passion, other than acting, was the came of cricket. He was on the Hollywood members cricket team. He also was an avid reader, loved gardening and he played tennis when he was younger. He liked boxing also. He liked to attend boxing matches.”
Movies Most Proud Of: “He was very proud of the work he did with Val Lewton, the director. Made three films with him, one of which was The Body Snatcher. Targets I know he was pleased with. I know he enjoyed doing Comedy of Terrors and The Raven with Peter Lorre and Vincent Price.”
Musical Tastes: “Quiet music. Because he was an avid reader.”
Favorite Books: “His favorite author was Joseph Conrad.”
Favorite Movies: “He liked George Kennedy as an actor. And he really admired Peter Bogdanovich. And he adored Vincent Price. Both were very well educated and very articulate men.”
Memory: “I remember taking my children to see him on the set of The Raven and how much he enjoyed showing them off and how much they enjoyed watching him perform.”
Most Treasured Possession: “His life membership which was presented to him by the Screen Actors Guild. (Where did he keep it?) Not safely enough, as it was stolen in a robbery after his death.”
Favorite Vacation Spot: “His favorite spot in the world was when he lived a portion of his life in London, England. And a cottage outside of London. His favorite trip was to Alaska in the 1960’s when he did Arsenic And Old Lace at the Community Theater in Anchorage. He was invited to perform in that role (Jonathan Brewster) that was written for him.”
Favorite Meal: “I know he loved sand dabs – it’s a white fish.”
Education: “King’s College in London. Trained for the diplomatic corp.”
Childhood Dream: “An actor. When he was in London, he attended as much theater as he could. He trained for the diplomatic corp like his brother (John), one of whom was Knighted for his service to China. But he knew that wasn’t what he wanted to do.”
Greatest Career Moment: “Well, obviously, Frankenstein (1931) was the pivotal part of his career. Although it was his 81st film. But he gained his first attention of any sort as an actor in the play Criminal Code, then later in the film (1929). It was some degree of attention, but nothing like Frankenstein brought.”
Most Painful Moment: “Had to be Frankenstein also. Because he lost 25 pounds during the making of it. It was a lot of hard work, heavy clothing, heavy make-up, hot weather and long hours.”
Embarrassing Career Memory: “When he was in rehearsals for Arsenic And Old Lace. He suffered such stage fright, such feelings of inadequacy as a Broadway stage actor – it had been 20 years since he was on stage. He almost quit the play, he almost quit the project. Because he thought he let the other actors down.”
Memory: “He always said the children were his biggest fans. And they always understood the monster was the victim and not the perpetrator. He said they told him they understood that. And he always liked the time with the youngsters who were his fans.”
People Qualities Most Admired: “Integrity. And a sense of fair play.”
How Would Boris Karloff Like To Be Remembered: “As a man of good humor. And a man of personal and professional integrity.”
Career Accomplishments: Actor from 1909-1969; Appeared in such films as The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, House of Frankenstein, Son of Frankenstein, The Raven, Scarface, The Invisible Ray, Black Friday, Tower of London, Targets, The Snake People, The House of Evil, Mask of Fu Manchu, The Ghoul, The Black Cat, The Old Dark House, The Ape, Charlie Chan At The Opera, Mad Monster Party, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Abbott & Costello Meet The Killer, Boris Karloff, Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Bikini Beach, etc.; Awarded star on Hollywood Walk of Fame.