Boris Karloff
Overview
 
William Henry Pratt better known by his stage name
Stage name
A stage name, also called a showbiz name or screen name, is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers such as actors, wrestlers, comedians, and musicians.-Motivation to use a stage name:...

 Boris Karloff, was an English actor.

Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror film
Horror film
Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

s and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster is a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. The creature is often erroneously referred to as "Frankenstein", but in the novel the creature has no name...

 in Frankenstein
Frankenstein (1931 film)
Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features...

(1931), Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to Frankenstein...

(1935), and Son of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein is the third film in Universal Studios' Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster as well as the first to feature Béla Lugosi as Ygor. It is a sequel to Bride of Frankenstein....

(1939). His popularity following Frankenstein was such that for a brief time he was billed simply as "Karloff" or "Karloff the Uncanny." His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for his children's books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and, in one case, Rosetta Stone....

’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (TV special)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 1966 American animated television special directed by Chuck Jones. It is based on the homonymous children's book by Dr. Seuss, the story of The Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk of Whoville below his mountain hideaway...

(1966).
Karloff was born at 36 Forest Hill Road, East Dulwich
East Dulwich
East Dulwich is a district of South London, England in the London Borough of Southwark. It forms the eastern one third of Dulwich, with the Dulwich Wood area, Dulwich Village and West Dulwich to its South and West making up the remaining two thirds...

, London, England, where a blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

 can now be seen.
Encyclopedia
William Henry Pratt better known by his stage name
Stage name
A stage name, also called a showbiz name or screen name, is a pseudonym used by performers and entertainers such as actors, wrestlers, comedians, and musicians.-Motivation to use a stage name:...

 Boris Karloff, was an English actor.

Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror film
Horror film
Horror films seek to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's most primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer through the means of macabre and the supernatural, thus frequently overlapping with the fantasy and science fiction genres...

s and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster is a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. The creature is often erroneously referred to as "Frankenstein", but in the novel the creature has no name...

 in Frankenstein
Frankenstein (1931 film)
Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features...

(1931), Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to Frankenstein...

(1935), and Son of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein is the third film in Universal Studios' Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster as well as the first to feature Béla Lugosi as Ygor. It is a sequel to Bride of Frankenstein....

(1939). His popularity following Frankenstein was such that for a brief time he was billed simply as "Karloff" or "Karloff the Uncanny." His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for his children's books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and, in one case, Rosetta Stone....

’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas!
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (TV special)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 1966 American animated television special directed by Chuck Jones. It is based on the homonymous children's book by Dr. Seuss, the story of The Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk of Whoville below his mountain hideaway...

(1966).

Early years

Karloff was born at 36 Forest Hill Road, East Dulwich
East Dulwich
East Dulwich is a district of South London, England in the London Borough of Southwark. It forms the eastern one third of Dulwich, with the Dulwich Wood area, Dulwich Village and West Dulwich to its South and West making up the remaining two thirds...

, London, England, where a blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

 can now be seen. His parents were Edward John Pratt, Jr. and Eliza Sarah Millard. His paternal grandparents were Edward John Pratt, an Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Indian
Anglo-Indians are people who have mixed Indian and British ancestry, or people of British descent born or living in India, now mainly historical in the latter sense. British residents in India used the term "Eurasians" for people of mixed European and Indian descent...

, and Eliza Julia (Edwards) Pratt, a sister of Anna Leonowens
Anna Leonowens
Anna Leonowens was an English travel writer, educator, and social activist. She worked in Siam from 1862 to 1868, where she taught the wives and children of Mongkut, king of Siam. She also co-founded the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design...

 (whose tales about life in the royal court of Siam (now Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

) were the basis of the musical The King and I
The King and I
The King and I is a stage musical, the fifth by the team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. The work is based on the 1944 novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon and derives from the memoirs of Anna Leonowens, who became governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam in...

). The two sisters were also of Anglo-Indian heritage.

Karloff grew up in Enfield
London Borough of Enfield
The London Borough of Enfield is the most northerly London borough and forms part of Outer London. It borders the London Boroughs of Barnet, Haringey and Waltham Forest...

. He was the youngest of nine children, and following his mother's death was brought up by his elder siblings. He later attended Enfield Grammar School
Enfield Grammar School
Enfield Grammar School is a boys' comprehensive school in Enfield Town in the London Borough of Enfield in north London.-History:Enfield Grammar School was founded on the 25th. May 1558...

 before moving to Uppingham School
Uppingham School
Uppingham School is a co-educational independent school of the English public school tradition, situated in the small town of Uppingham in Rutland, England...

 and Merchant Taylors' School
Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood
Merchant Taylors' School is a British independent day school for boys, originally located in the City of London. Since 1933 it has been located at Sandy Lodge in the Three Rivers district of Hertfordshire ....

, and went on to attend King's College London
King's College London
King's College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and a constituent college of the federal University of London. King's has a claim to being the third oldest university in England, having been founded by King George IV and the Duke of Wellington in 1829, and...

 where he studied to go into the consular service. He dropped out in 1909 and worked as a farm labourer and did various odd jobs until he happened into acting. His brother, Sir John Thomas Pratt, became a distinguished British diplomat. Karloff was bow-legged, had a lisp
Lisp
A lisp is a speech impediment, historically also known as sigmatism. Stereotypically, people with a lisp are unable to pronounce sibilants , and replace them with interdentals , though there are actually several kinds of lisp...

, and stuttered as a young boy. He conquered his stutter, but not his lisp, which was noticeable all through his career.

Career

In 1909, Pratt travelled to Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and began appearing in stage shows throughout the country; and some time later changed his professional name to "Boris Karloff". Some have theorized that he took the stage name from a mad scientist
Mad scientist
A mad scientist is a stock character of popular fiction, specifically science fiction. The mad scientist may be villainous or antagonistic, benign or neutral, and whether insane, eccentric, or simply bumbling, mad scientists often work with fictional technology in order to forward their schemes, if...

 character in the novel The Drums of Jeopardy called "Boris Karlov". However, the novel was not published until 1920, at least eight years after Karloff had been using the name on stage and in silent films (Warner Oland
Warner Oland
Warner Oland was a Swedish American actor most remembered for his screen role as the detective Charlie Chan.-Biography:He was born Johan Verner Ölund in the village of Nyby, Bjurholm Municipality,...

 played "Boris Karlov" in a movie version in 1931). Another possible influence was thought to be a character in the Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Edgar Rice Burroughs was an American author, best known for his creation of the jungle hero Tarzan and the heroic Mars adventurer John Carter, although he produced works in many genres.-Biography:...

 fantasy novel H. R. H. The Rider which features a "Prince Boris of Karlova", but as the novel was not published until 1915, the influence may be backward, that Burroughs saw Karloff in a play and adapted the name for the character. Karloff always claimed he chose the first name "Boris" because it sounded foreign and exotic, and that "Karloff" was a family name. However, his daughter Sara Karloff publicly denied any knowledge of Slavic
Slavic peoples
The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

 forebears, "Karloff" or otherwise. One reason for the name change was to prevent embarrassment to his family. Whether or not his brothers (all dignified members of the British foreign service) actually considered young William the "black sheep
Black sheep
In the English language, black sheep is an idiom used to describe an odd or disreputable member of a group, especially within a family. The term has typically been given negative implications, implying waywardness...

 of the family" for having become an actor, Karloff himself apparently worried they did feel that way. He did not reunite with his family until 1933, when he went back to England to make The Ghoul, extremely worried that his siblings would disapprove of his new, macabre claim to world fame. Instead, his elder brothers jostled for position around their "baby" brother and happily posed for publicity photographs with him.

Karloff joined the Jeanne Russell Co. in 1911 and performed in towns like Kamloops, British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

 and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Prince Albert is the third-largest city in Saskatchewan, Canada. It is situated in the centre of the province on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River. The city is known as the "Gateway to the North" because it is the last major centre along the route to the resources of northern Saskatchewan...

. After the devastating Regina, Saskatchewan
Regina, Saskatchewan
Regina is the capital city of the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. The city is the second-largest in the province and a cultural and commercial centre for southern Saskatchewan. It is governed by Regina City Council. Regina is the cathedral city of the Roman Catholic and Romanian Orthodox...

, Regina Cyclone
Regina Cyclone
The Regina Cyclone is the popular name for a tornado that devastated the city of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada on June 30, 1912. At about 4:50 p.m., green funnel clouds formed and touched down south of the city, tearing a swath through the residential area between Wascana Lake and Victoria Avenue...

 of 30 June 1912, Karloff and other performers helped with cleanup efforts. He later took a job as a railway baggage handler and joined the Harry St. Clair Co., that performed in Minot, North Dakota
Minot, North Dakota
Minot is a city located in north central North Dakota in the United States. It is most widely known for the Air Force base located approximately 15 miles north of the city. With a population of 40,888 at the 2010 census, Minot is the fourth largest city in the state...

 for a year, in an opera house
Opera house
An opera house is a theatre building used for opera performances that consists of a stage, an orchestra pit, audience seating, and backstage facilities for costumes and set building...

 above a hardware store
Hardware store
Hardware stores, sometimes known as DIY stores, sell household hardware including: fasteners, hand tools, power tools, keys, locks, hinges, chains, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, cleaning products, housewares, tools, utensils, paint, and lawn and garden products directly to consumers for...

.

Due to the years of difficult manual labour
Manual labour
Manual labour , manual or manual work is physical work done by people, most especially in contrast to that done by machines, and also to that done by working animals...

 in Canada and the U.S. while trying to establish his acting career, he suffered back problems for the rest of his life. Because of his health, he did not fight in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Hollywood

Once Karloff arrived in Hollywood
Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Hollywood is a famous district in Los Angeles, California, United States situated west-northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Due to its fame and cultural identity as the historical center of movie studios and movie stars, the word Hollywood is often used as a metonym of American cinema...

, he made dozens of silent film
Silent film
A silent film is a film with no synchronized recorded sound, especially with no spoken dialogue. In silent films for entertainment the dialogue is transmitted through muted gestures, pantomime and title cards...

s, but work was sporadic, and he often had to take up manual labour such as digging ditches and driving a cement lorry to earn a living. A number of his early major roles were in film serials, such as The Masked Rider
The Masked Rider
The Masked Rider is the primary mascot of Texas Tech University. It is the oldest of the university's mascots still in existence today. Originally called "Ghost Rider", it was an unofficial mascot appearing in a few games in 1936 and then became the official mascot with the 1954 Gator Bowl. The...

(1919), in Chapter 2 of which he can be glimpsed onscreen for the first time, The Hope Diamond Mystery
The Hope Diamond Mystery
The Hope Diamond Mystery is a 1921 action film serial directed by Stuart Paton and featuring Boris Karloff.-Cast:* Harry Carter - Ghung / Sidney Atherton* Grace Darmond - Bibi / Mary Hilton* George Chesebro - John Baptiste Tavanier / John Gregge...

(1920) and King of the Wild
King of the Wild
King of the Wild is a Mascot movie serial.-Plot:Robert Grant, framed for a coup in the Indian country of Ranjapur, escapes from prison to Africa in search of the real villains...

(1930). In these early roles he was often cast as an exotic Arabian or Indian villain. A key film which brought Karloff recognition was The Criminal Code
The Criminal Code
The Criminal Code is a Hollywood crime film, directed by Howard Hawks, based on a play by Martin Flavin with cinematic adaptation by screenwriters Seton I...

(1931), a prison drama in which he reprised a dramatic part he had played on stage. Another significant role in the fall of 1931 saw Karloff play a key supporting part as an unethical newspaper reporter in Five Star Final
Five Star Final
Five Star Final is a 1931 American film about crime and the excesses of tabloid journalism. It was written by Robert Lord and Byron Morgan from the play by Louis Weitzenkorn, and directed by Mervyn LeRoy. The movie stars Edward G. Robinson and features H. B...

, a harshly critical film about tabloid journalism which was nominated for an Oscar as Best Picture of 1931-32.

Stardom

But it was his role as Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster
Frankenstein's monster is a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. The creature is often erroneously referred to as "Frankenstein", but in the novel the creature has no name...

 in Frankenstein
Frankenstein (1931 film)
Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features...

(1931) which made him a star. The bulky costume with four inch platform boots made it an arduous role but the costume and torturously administered make-up produced the classic image. Boris was lucky to get the part, not least as it had supposedly been offered to Bela Lugosi
Béla Lugosi
Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó , commonly known as Bela Lugosi, was a Hungarian actor of stage and screen. He was best known for having played Count Dracula in the Broadway play and subsequent film version, as well as having starred in several of Ed Wood's low budget films in the last years of his...

, who declined it. A year later, Karloff played another iconic character, Imhotep
Imhotep (character)
Imhotep is a fictional character and the titular antagonist in the 1932 film The Mummy, and later featured in its 1999 remake and its sequel The Mummy Returns again as one of the main antagonists...

 in The Mummy
The Mummy (1932 film)
The Mummy is a 1932 horror film from Universal Studios directed by Karl Freund and starring Boris Karloff as a revived ancient Egyptian priest. The movie also features Zita Johann, David Manners and Edward Van Sloan...

.
Also quickly followed The Old Dark House
The Old Dark House
The Old Dark House is an American comedy horror film directed by James Whale and starring Boris Karloff, produced just one year after their success with Frankenstein, also released by Universal Studios.-Background:...

with Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton
Charles Laughton was an English-American stage and film actor, screenwriter, producer and director.-Early life and career:...

 and the star role in The Mask of Fu Manchu
The Mask of Fu Manchu
The Mask of Fu Manchu is a Pre-Code adventure film released in 1932, featuring Boris Karloff as Fu Manchu and Myrna Loy as his daughter. The movie revolves around Fu Manchu's quest for the sword and mask of Genghis Khan. Lewis Stone plays his nemesis...

. These films all very much confirmed his newfound stardom.

The 5'11" (1.80 m) brown-eyed Karloff played a wide variety of roles in other genres besides horror. He was memorably gunned down in a bowling alley in the 1932 film Scarface
Scarface (1932 film)
Scarface is a 1932 American gangster film starring Paul Muni and George Raft, produced by Howard Hughes, directed by Howard Hawks and Richard Rosson, and written by Ben Hecht based on the 1929 novel of the same name by Armitage Trail...

.
He played a religious World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 soldier in the 1934 John Ford
John Ford
John Ford was an American film director. He was famous for both his westerns such as Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, and adaptations of such classic 20th-century American novels as The Grapes of Wrath...

 epic The Lost Patrol
The Lost Patrol (1934 film)
The Lost Patrol is a 1934 war film made by RKO. It was directed and produced by John Ford, with Merian C. Cooper as executive producer and Cliff Reid as associate producer. The screenplay was by Dudley Nichols, adapted by Garrett Fort from the novel Patrol by Philip MacDonald. The music score was...

.
Karloff gave a string of lauded performances in 1930s Universal horror films, including several with his main rival for heir to Lon Chaney, Sr.
Lon Chaney, Sr.
Lon Chaney , nicknamed "The Man of a Thousand Faces," was an American actor during the age of silent films. He was one of the most versatile and powerful actors of early cinema...

's horror throne, Béla Lugosi
Béla Lugosi
Béla Ferenc Dezső Blaskó , commonly known as Bela Lugosi, was a Hungarian actor of stage and screen. He was best known for having played Count Dracula in the Broadway play and subsequent film version, as well as having starred in several of Ed Wood's low budget films in the last years of his...

. Karloff was cast for the role of the Monster in Frankenstein
Frankenstein (1931 film)
Frankenstein is a 1931 Pre-Code Horror Monster film from Universal Pictures directed by James Whale and adapted from the play by Peggy Webling which in turn is based on the novel of the same name by Mary Shelley. The film stars Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles and Boris Karloff, and features...

after Bela Lugosi refused to play the part, making his subsequent career possible. Karloff played Frankenstein's monster in two other films, Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein is a 1935 American horror film, the first sequel to Frankenstein...

(1935) and Son of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein
Son of Frankenstein is the third film in Universal Studios' Frankenstein series and the last to feature Boris Karloff as the Monster as well as the first to feature Béla Lugosi as Ygor. It is a sequel to Bride of Frankenstein....

(1939), with the latter also featuring Lugosi. Karloff would revisit the Frankenstein mythos in film several times afterward. The first would be as the villainous Dr. Niemann in House of Frankenstein
House of Frankenstein (1944 film)
House of Frankenstein is an American monster horror film produced in 1944 by Universal Studios as a sequel to Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man the previous year. This monster rally approach would continue in the following film, House of Dracula, as well as the 1948 comedy Abbott and Costello Meet...

(1944), where Karloff would be contrasted with Glenn Strange
Glenn Strange
Glenn Strange was an American actor who appeared mostly in Western films. He is best known for playing the Frankenstein Monster in three Universal films during the 1940s and for his role as Sam Noonan, the bartender on CBS's Gunsmoke television series...

's portrayal of the Monster.

Karloff returned to the role of the "mad scientist" in 1958's Frankenstein 1970
Frankenstein 1970
Frankenstein 1970 is a 1958 science fiction horror film, starring Boris Karloff and Don 'Red' Barry. This independent film was directed by Howard W. Koch, and its alternative titles were Frankenstein 1960 and Frankenstein 1975. Released on a low budget, the film was originally intended to be...

,
as Baron Victor von Frankenstein II, the grandson of the original inventor
Victor Frankenstein
Victor Frankenstein was born in Napoli, is a Swiss fictional character and the protagonist of the 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, written by Mary Shelley...

. The finale reveals that the crippled Baron has given his own face (i.e. Karloff's) to the Monster. The actor appeared at a celebrity baseball game as the Monster in 1940, hitting a gag home run and making catcher Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton
Joseph Frank "Buster" Keaton was an American comic actor, filmmaker, producer and writer. He was best known for his silent films, in which his trademark was physical comedy with a consistently stoic, deadpan expression, earning him the nickname "The Great Stone Face".Keaton was recognized as the...

 fall into an acrobatic dead faint as the Monster stomped into home plate. Norman Z. McLeod
Norman Z. McLeod
Norman Zenos McLeod was an American film director, cartoonist and writer...

 filmed a sequence in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a 1947 comedy film, loosely based on the short story of the same name by James Thurber. It stars Danny Kaye as a young daydreaming editor for a book publishing firm. The film was adapted for the screen by Ken Englund, Everett Freeman, and Philip Rapp, and directed...

with Karloff in the Monster make-up, but it was deleted. Karloff donned the headpiece and neck bolts for the final time in 1962 for a Halloween
Halloween
Hallowe'en , also known as Halloween or All Hallows' Eve, is a yearly holiday observed around the world on October 31, the night before All Saints' Day...

 episode of the TV series Route 66
Route 66 (TV series)
Route 66 is an American TV series in which two young men traveled across America. The show ran weekly on CBS from 1960 to 1964. It starred Martin Milner as Tod Stiles and, for two and a half seasons, George Maharis as Buz Murdock. Maharis was ill for much of the third season, during which time Tod...

,
but he was playing "Boris Karloff," who, within the story, was playing "the Monster".

While the long, creative partnership between Karloff and Lugosi never led to a close mutual friendship, it produced some of the actors' most revered and enduring productions, beginning with The Black Cat
The Black Cat (1934 film)
The Black Cat is a 1934 horror film that became Universal Pictures' biggest box office hit of the year. It was the first of eight movies to pair actors Béla Lugosi and Boris Karloff. Edgar G. Ulmer directed the film; Peter Ruric wrote the screenplay...

.
Follow-ups included Gift of Gab
Gift of Gab (film)
Gift of Gab is a 1934 black-and-white film released by Universal Pictures. Edmund Lowe stars as a man with the "Gift of Gab" — he can sell anyone anything. The film costars Ruth Etting, Ethel Waters, Victor Moore, and Gloria Stuart, and features Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi.Ruth Etting sings...

(1934), The Raven
The Raven (1935 film)
The Raven is a horror film starring Boris Karloff and Béla Lugosi, and directed by Lew Landers. It revolves around Edgar Allan Poe's famous poem, featuring Lugosi as a Poe-obsessed mad surgeon with a torture chamber in his basement and Karloff as a fugitive murderer desperately on the run from the...

(1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), Black Friday
Black Friday (1940 film)
Black Friday is a 1940 American science fiction film starring Boris Karloff. Béla Lugosi, although second-billed, has only a small part in the film and does not appear with Karloff....

(1940), You'll Find Out
You'll Find Out
You'll Find Out is a 1940 comedy film directed by David Butler and starring Boris Karloff. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 1941 for Best Original Song...

(also 1940), and The Body Snatcher
The Body Snatcher (film)
The Body Snatcher is a 1945 horror film directed by Robert Wise based on the short story The Body Snatcher by Robert Louis Stevenson. The film's producer Val Lewton helped adapt the story for the screen, writing under the pen name of "Carlos Keith". The film was marketed with the tagline The...

(1945). During this period, he also starred with Basil Rathbone
Basil Rathbone
Sir Basil Rathbone, KBE, MC, Kt was an English actor. He rose to prominence in England as a Shakespearean stage actor and went on to appear in over 70 films, primarily costume dramas, swashbucklers, and, occasionally, horror films...

 in Tower of London
Tower of London (1939 film)
Tower of London is a 1939 black-and-white historical film and quasi-horror film released by Universal Pictures and directed by Rowland V. Lee. It stars Basil Rathbone as the future Richard III of England, and Boris Karloff as his fictitious club-footed executioner Mord. Vincent Price appears as...

(1939).

From 1945 to 1946, Karloff appeared in three films for RKO produced by Val Lewton
Val Lewton
Val Lewton was an American film producer and screenwriter, best known for a string of low-budget horror films he produced for RKO Pictures in the 1940s.-Early life:...

: Isle of the Dead
Isle of the Dead (film)
Isle of the Dead is one of producer Val Lewton's horror films made for RKO Radio Pictures. The movie had a script inspired by the painting Isle of the Dead by Arnold Böcklin, which appears behind the title credits, though the film was originally titled "Camilla" during production...

, The Body Snatcher
The Body Snatcher
The Body Snatcher is a fictional short story by the Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson. First published in the Pall Mall Christmas "Extra", in December 1884, the story is based on characters in the employ of Robert Knox, around the time of the Burke and Hare murders.-Plot summary:The story...

, and Bedlam
Bedlam (film)
Bedlam is a film starring Boris Karloff and Anna Lee, and was the last in a series of stylish B films produced by Val Lewton for RKO Radio Pictures. The film was inspired by William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress, and Hogarth was given a writing credit.-Plot:Set in 1761 London, England, the film...

. In a 1946 interview with Louis Berg of the Los Angeles Times, Karloff discussed his three-picture deal with RKO, his reasons for leaving Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures
-1920:* White Youth* The Flaming Disc* Am I Dreaming?* The Dragon's Net* The Adorable Savage* Putting It Over* The Line Runners-1921:* The Fire Eater* A Battle of Wits* Dream Girl* The Millionaire...

 and working with producer Lewton. Karloff left Universal because he thought the Frankenstein franchise had run its course. The latest installment was what he called a "'monster clambake,' with everything thrown in — Frankenstein, Dracula, a hunchback and a 'man-beast' that howled in the night. It was too much. Karloff thought it was ridiculous and said so." Berg continues, "Mr. Karloff has great love and respect for Mr. Lewton as the man who rescued him from the living dead and restored, so to speak, his soul."

During this period, Karloff was also a frequent guest on radio programmes, whether it was starring in Arch Oboler
Arch Oboler
Arch Oboler was an American actor, playwright, screenwriter, novelist, producer, and director who was active in radio, films, theater, and television. He generated much attention with his radio scripts, particularly the horror series Lights Out, and his work in radio remains the outstanding period...

's Chicago-based Lights Out
Lights Out (radio show)
Lights Out is an extremely popular American old-time radio program, an early example of a network series devoted mostly to horror and the supernatural, predating Suspense and Inner Sanctum...

productions (most notably the episode "Cat Wife") or spoofing his horror image with Fred Allen
Fred Allen
Fred Allen was an American comedian whose absurdist, topically pointed radio show made him one of the most popular and forward-looking humorists in the so-called classic era of American radio.His best-remembered gag was his long-running mock feud with friend and fellow comedian Jack Benny, but it...

 or Jack Benny
Jack Benny
Jack Benny was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor for radio, television, and film...

.

An enthusiastic performer, he returned to the Broadway stage in the original production of Arsenic and Old Lace
Arsenic and Old Lace (play)
Arsenic and Old Lace is a play by American playwright Joseph Kesselring, written in 1939. It has become best known through the film adaptation starring Cary Grant and directed by Frank Capra. The play was directed by Bretaigne Windust, and opened on January 10, 1941. On September 25, 1943, the...

in 1941, in which he played a homicidal gangster enraged to be frequently mistaken for Karloff. Although Frank Capra
Frank Capra
Frank Russell Capra was a Sicilian-born American film director. He emigrated to the U.S. when he was six, and eventually became a creative force behind major award-winning films during the 1930s and 1940s...

 cast Raymond Massey
Raymond Massey
Raymond Hart Massey was a Canadian/American actor.-Early life:Massey was born in Toronto, Ontario, the son of Anna , who was born in Illinois, and Chester Daniel Massey, the wealthy owner of the Massey-Ferguson Tractor Company. Massey's family could trace their ancestry back to the American...

 in the 1944 film
Arsenic and Old Lace (film)
Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 film directed by Frank Capra based on Joseph Kesselring's play of the same name. The script adaptation was by twins Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein. Capra actually filmed the movie in 1941, but it was not released until 1944, after the original stage version...

, which was shot in 1941, while Karloff was still appearing in the role on Broadway, Karloff reprised the role on television with Tony Randall
Tony Randall
Tony Randall was a U.S. actor, comic, producer and director.-Early years:Randall was born Arthur Leonard Rosenberg to a Jewish family in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Julia and Mogscha Rosenberg, an art and antiques dealer...

 and Tom Bosley
Tom Bosley
Thomas Edward "Tom" Bosley was an American actor. Bosley is best known for portraying Howard Cunningham on the long-running ABC sitcom Happy Days. He also was featured in recurring roles on Murder, She Wrote, and Father Dowling Mysteries...

 in a 1962 production on the Hallmark Hall of Fame
Hallmark Hall of Fame
Hallmark Hall of Fame is an anthology program on American television, sponsored by Hallmark Cards, a Kansas City based greeting card company. The second longest-running television program in the history of television, it has a historically long run, beginning in 1951 and continuing into 2011...

. Somewhat less successful was his work in J. B. Priestley
J. B. Priestley
John Boynton Priestley, OM , known as J. B. Priestley, was an English novelist, playwright and broadcaster. He published 26 novels, notably The Good Companions , as well as numerous dramas such as An Inspector Calls...

's play The Linden Tree. He also appeared as Captain Hook
Captain Hook
Captain James Hook is the main antagonist of J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan; or, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up and its various adaptations. The character is a villainous pirate captain of the Jolly Roger brig, and lord of the pirate village/harbour in Neverland, where he is widely feared. Most...

 in the play Peter Pan
Peter Pan (1950 musical)
Peter Pan is a musical adaptation of J. M. Barrie's play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up, first produced in 1950, with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein...

with Jean Arthur
Jean Arthur
Jean Arthur was an American actress and a major film star of the 1930s and 1940s. She remains arguably the epitome of the female screwball comedy actress. As James Harvey wrote in his recounting of the era, "No one was more closely identified with the screwball comedy than Jean Arthur...

. He was nominated for a Tony Award
Tony Award
The Antoinette Perry Award for Excellence in Theatre, more commonly known as a Tony Award, recognizes achievement in live Broadway theatre. The awards are presented by the American Theatre Wing and The Broadway League at an annual ceremony in New York City. The awards are given for Broadway...

 for his work opposite Julie Harris
Julie Harris
Julia Ann "Julie" Harris is an American stage, screen, and television actress. She has won five Tony Awards, three Emmy Awards and a Grammy Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. In 1994, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts. She is a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame...

 in The Lark
L'Alouette (The Lark)
L'Alouette is a 1952 play by Jean Anouilh about Joan of Arc. It was presented on Broadway in English in 1955, starring Julie Harris as Joan and Boris Karloff as Pierre Cauchon. It was produced by Kermit Bloomgarden.The English adaptation was by Lillian Hellman and the incidental music was by...

,
by the French playwright Jean Anouilh
Jean Anouilh
Jean Marie Lucien Pierre Anouilh was a French dramatist whose career spanned five decades. Though his work ranged from high drama to absurdist farce, Anouilh is best known for his 1943 play Antigone, an adaptation of Sophocles' Classical drama, that was seen as an attack on Marshal Pétain's...

 about Joan of Arc
Joan of Arc
Saint Joan of Arc, nicknamed "The Maid of Orléans" , is a national heroine of France and a Roman Catholic saint. A peasant girl born in eastern France who claimed divine guidance, she led the French army to several important victories during the Hundred Years' War, which paved the way for the...

, which was also reprised on Hallmark Hall of Fame
Hallmark Hall of Fame
Hallmark Hall of Fame is an anthology program on American television, sponsored by Hallmark Cards, a Kansas City based greeting card company. The second longest-running television program in the history of television, it has a historically long run, beginning in 1951 and continuing into 2011...

.

In later years, Karloff hosted and acted in a number of television series, most notably Thriller, Out of This World
Out of This World (UK TV series)
Out of This World is a British science fiction anthology television series made by ABC Television and broadcast in 1962. A spin-off from the popular anthology series Armchair Theatre, each episode was introduced by the actor Boris Karloff. Many of the episodes were adaptations of stories by...

, and The Veil
The Veil
The Veil is the title of an American horror/suspense anthology television series produced in 1958 by Hal Roach Studios.The series was hosted by Boris Karloff, who also acted in every episode but one, and was allegedly based upon real-life reports of supernatural happenings and the unexplained...

, the last of which was never broadcast and only came to light in the 1990s. In the 1960s, Karloff appeared in several films for American International Pictures
American International Pictures
American International Pictures was a film production company formed in April 1956 from American Releasing Corporation by James H. Nicholson, former Sales Manager of Realart Pictures, and Samuel Z. Arkoff, an entertainment lawyer...

, including The Comedy of Terrors
The Comedy of Terrors
The Comedy of Terrors is an American International Pictures comedy horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur and starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, and Joe E. Brown . The film also features Orangey the cat, billed as "Rhubarb the Cat"...

,
The Raven
The Raven (1963 film)
The Raven is a B movie horror-comedy produced and directed by Roger Corman. The film stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff as a trio of rival sorcerers. Part of a series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations produced by Corman through American International Pictures, the film was written by...

, and The Terror
The Terror (1963 film)
The Terror is an American horror film produced by Roger Corman, and famous for being filmed on leftover film sets from other AIP productions, including The Haunted Palace...

. the latter two directed by Roger Corman
Roger Corman
Roger William Corman is an American film producer, director and actor. He has mostly worked on low-budget B movies. Some of Corman's work has an established critical reputation, such as his cycle of films adapted from the tales of Edgar Allan Poe, and in 2009 he won an Honorary Academy Award for...

, and Die, Monster, Die!
Die, Monster, Die!
Die, Monster, Die! is a 1965 horror film directed by Daniel Haller. The film is a loose adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft's story The Colour Out of Space. The story is about an American scientist who pays a visit to the estate of his fiancée's family...

. He also featured in Michael Reeves
Michael Reeves
Michael Reeves was an English film director and screenwriter. He is best known for the 1968 American International Pictures/Tigon motion picture Witchfinder General...

' second feature film The Sorcerers (1966).

During the 1950s Karloff appeared on British TV in the series Colonel March of Scotland Yard
Colonel March of Scotland Yard
Colonel March of Scotland Yard is a 1950s British television series based on author John Dickson Carr's fictional detective Colonel March from his book The Department of Queer Complaints . Carr was a mystery author who specialised in locked-room whodunnits and other 'impossible' crimes: murder...

, in which he portrayed John Dickson Carr
John Dickson Carr
John Dickson Carr was an American author of detective stories, who also published under the pen names Carter Dickson, Carr Dickson and Roger Fairbairn....

's fictional detective Colonel March
Colonel March
Colonel March is a fictional detective created by John Dickson Carr. He appeared in a number of short stories written in the 30s and 40s about "locked-room" and "impossible crime" mysteries. He was an official attached to Scotland Yard in the so-called Department of Queer Complaints.He was played...

 who was known for solving apparently impossible crimes.

Karloff, along with H. V. Kaltenborn, was a regular panelist on the NBC
NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 game show
Game show
A game show is a type of radio or television program in which members of the public, television personalities or celebrities, sometimes as part of a team, play a game which involves answering questions or solving puzzles usually for money and/or prizes...

, Who Said That?
Who Said That?
Who Said That? is a 1947-55 NBC radio-television game show, in which a panel of celebrities attempts to determine the speaker of a quotation from recent news reports. The series was first proposed and edited by Fred W. Friendly, later of CBS News....

, which aired between 1948 and 1955. Later, as a guest on NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show
The Gisele MacKenzie Show
The Gisele MacKenzie Show in an American variety show hosted by Gisele MacKenzie. The series aired live on NBC from September 28, 1957, to March 29, 1958. The Curfew Kids appeared on the program as semi-regulars....

, Karloff sang "Those Were the Good Old Days" from Damn Yankees
Damn Yankees
Damn Yankees is a musical comedy with a book by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop and music and lyrics by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. The story is a modern retelling of the Faust legend set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League...

, while Gisele MacKenzie
Gisele MacKenzie
Gisèle MacKenzie was a Canadian-American singer, most famous for her performances on the popular television program Your Hit Parade.-Biography:...

 performed the solo, "Give Me the Simple Life". On The Red Skelton Show
The Red Skelton Show
The Red Skelton Show is an American variety show that was a television staple for two decades, from 1951 to 1971. It was second to Gunsmoke and third to The Ed Sullivan Show in the ratings during that time. Skelton, who had previously been a radio star, had appeared in several motion pictures as...

,
Karloff guest starred along with horror actor Vincent Price
Vincent Price
Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was an American actor, well known for his distinctive voice and serio-comic attitude in a series of horror films made in the latter part of his career.-Early life and career:Price was born in St...

 in a parody of Frankenstein, with Red Skelton
Red Skelton
Richard Bernard "Red" Skelton was an American comedian who is best known as a top radio and television star from 1937 to 1971. Skelton's show business career began in his teens as a circus clown and went on to vaudeville, Broadway, films, radio, TV, night clubs and casinos, all while pursuing...

 as the monster "Klem Kadiddle Monster." In 1966, Karloff also appeared with Robert Vaughn
Robert Vaughn
Robert Francis Vaughn, , is an American actor noted for stage, film and television work. His best known roles include the suave spy Napoleon Solo in the 1960s television series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., wealthy detective Harry Rule in the 1970s television series The Protectors, Albert Stroller in...

 and Stefanie Powers
Stefanie Powers
Stefanie Powers is an American actress best known for her role as Jennifer Hart in the 1980s television series Hart to Hart.-Early life:...

 in the spy series The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. is an American spy-fi TV series that aired on NBC for one season from September 16, 1966 to April 11, 1967. The series was a spin-off from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and used the same theme music composed by Jerry Goldsmith, which was rearranged into a slightly different,...

,
in the episode "The Mother Muffin Affair." Karloff performed in drag as the titular Mother Muffin. That same year he also played an India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n Maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

h on the adventure series The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West
The Wild Wild West is an American television series that ran on CBS for four seasons from September 17, 1965 to April 4, 1969....

("The Night of the Golden Cobra"). In 1967, he played an eccentric Spanish
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 professor who thinks he's Don Quixote in a whimsical episode of I Spy ("Mainly on the Plains").

In the mid-1960s, Karloff gained a late-career surge of American popularity when he narrated the made-for-television animated film of Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist most widely known for his children's books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and, in one case, Rosetta Stone....

' How the Grinch Stole Christmas
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (TV special)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a 1966 American animated television special directed by Chuck Jones. It is based on the homonymous children's book by Dr. Seuss, the story of The Grinch trying to take away Christmas from the townsfolk of Whoville below his mountain hideaway...

,
and also provided the voice of the Grinch, although the song, "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
"You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" is a Christmas song that was originally written and composed for the 1966 cartoon special How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The lyrics were written by Theodor "Dr. Seuss" Geisel, the music was composed by Albert Hague, and the song was performed by Thurl Ravenscroft...

" was sung by American voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft
Thurl Ravenscroft
Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft was an American voice actor and singer best known as the deep voice behind Tony the Tiger's "They're grrreat!" in Frosted Flakes television commercials for more than five decades. Ravenscroft was also known, however uncredited, as the vocalist for the song "You're a Mean...

. Karloff later received a Grammy Award
Grammy Award
A Grammy Award — or Grammy — is an accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry...

 in the spoken word category after the story was released as a record. Because Ravenscroft was uncredited for his contribution to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, his performance of the song was often mistakenly attributed to Karloff.

In 1968 he starred in Targets
Targets
Targets is a thriller film written, produced and directed by Peter Bogdanovich.-Plot summary:The story concerns a quiet insurance agent / Vietnam veteran, played by Tim O'Kelly, who murders his young wife, his mother and a grocery delivery boy at home and then initiates an afternoon shooting...

, a film directed by Peter Bogdanovich
Peter Bogdanovich
Peter Bogdanovich is an American film historian, director, writer, actor, producer, and critic. He was part of the wave of "New Hollywood" directors, which included William Friedkin, Brian De Palma, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Michael Cimino, and Francis Ford Coppola...

 about a young man who embarks on a spree of killings carried out with handguns and high powered rifles. The film starred Karloff as retired horror film actor, Byron Orlok, a thinly disguised version of himself—facing an end of life crisis, resolved through a confrontation with the gunman.

Karloff ended his career by appearing in four low-budget Mexican
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 horror films: The Snake People
Isle of the Snake People
Isle of the Snake People is a 1971 film directed by Juan Ibáñez and starring Boris Karloff and Julissa. The film was produced by Ibanez for Azteca Films. The film was released as La muerte viviente in the United States as a Spanish language film. It was later released for television and dubbed over...

, The Incredible Invasion
The Incredible Invasion
The Incredible Invasion is a 1971 film directed by Jack Hill. It stars Boris Karloff and Enrique Guzmán.The Incredible Invasion is one of four low-budget Mexican horror films Karloff made in a package deal with Mexican producer Luis Vergara. The others are The Snake People, The Fear Chamber, and...

, The Fear Chamber
The Fear Chamber
The Fear Chamber is a 1968 film directed by Jack Hill. It stars Boris Karloff and Julissa.The Fear Chamber is one of four low-budget Mexican horror films Karloff made in a package deal with Mexican producer Luis Vergara. The others are The Snake People, The Incredible Invasion, andHouse of Evil...

, and House of Evil
House of Evil
House of Evil is a 1968 horror film directed by Jack Hill. It stars Boris Karloff and Julissa.House of Evil is one of four low-budget Mexican horror films Karloff made in a package deal with Mexican producer Luis Vergara. The others are The Snake People, The Incredible Invasion, and The Fear Chamber...

. This was a package deal with Mexican producer Luis Vergara. Karloff's scenes were directed by Jack Hill
Jack Hill
Jack Hill is an U.S. film director, noted for his work in the exploitation film genre. Despite this, several of Hill's later films have been characterized as feminist works.Hill was born in Los Angeles...

 and shot back to back in Los Angeles in the spring of 1968. The films were then completed in Mexico. All four were released posthumously, with the last, The Incredible Invasion, not released until 1971, two years after Karloff's death.

Cauldron of Blood, shot in Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 in 1967 and starring Karloff and Viveca Lindfors
Viveca Lindfors
Elsa Viveca Torstensdotter Lindfors , better known under her professional name of Viveca Lindfors, was a Swedish stage and film actress.-Life and career:...

, was also released after Karloff's death.

Spoken word

Karloff recorded the title role of Shakespeare's Cymbeline
Cymbeline
Cymbeline , also known as Cymbeline, King of Britain or The Tragedy of Cymbeline, is a play by William Shakespeare, based on legends concerning the early Celtic British King Cunobelinus. Although listed as a tragedy in the First Folio, modern critics often classify Cymbeline as a romance...

 for the Shakespeare Recording Society (Caedmon Audio
Caedmon Audio
HarperCollins Audio is a record label that specializes in audio books and other literary content. Formerly Caedmon Records, the name was changed when the label switched to CD-only production. Its marketing tag-line was Caedmon: a Third Dimension for the Printed Page.Caedmon was formed in 1953 by...

). The recording was originally published in 1962. It is very rare today, although a download of it is available from audible.com
Audible.com
Audible.com is an Internet provider of spoken audio entertainment, information, and educational programming.Audible sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of magazines and newspapers....

.

Karloff is also heard as the narrator of Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Prokofiev
Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev was a Russian composer, pianist and conductor who mastered numerous musical genres and is regarded as one of the major composers of the 20th century...

's Peter and the Wolf
Peter and the Wolf
Peter and the Wolf , Op. 67, is a composition written by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936 in the USSR. It is a children's story , spoken by a narrator accompanied by the orchestra....

 with the Vienna State Opera Orchestra under Mario Rossi
Mario Rossi
Mario Rossi was an Italian conductor, noted for his solid and meticulous readings of a repertory ranging from Italian classics to Russian moderns such as Prokoffiev, to the German operatic classicist Christoph Willibald Gluck.He studied composition in Rome with Respighi and conducting with Giacomo...

. The performance from the LP era is still available as a CD.

Records Karloff made for the children's market included Three Little Pigs and Other Fairy Stories, Tales of the Frightened (volume 1 and 2), Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

's Just So Stories
Just So Stories
The Just So Stories for Little Children were written by British author Rudyard Kipling. They are highly fantasised origin stories and are among Kipling's best known works.-Description:...

and, with Cyril Ritchard
Cyril Ritchard
Cyril Ritchard was an Australian stage, screen and television actor, and director. He is probably best remembered today for his performance as Captain Hook in the Mary Martin musical production of Peter Pan....

 and Celeste Holm
Celeste Holm
Celeste Holm is an American stage, film, and television actress, known for her Academy Award-winning performance in Gentleman's Agreement , as well as for her Oscar-nominated performances in Come to the Stable and All About Eve...

, Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes, and Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll , was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the...

's The Hunting of the Snark
The Hunting of the Snark
The Hunting of the Snark is usually thought of as a nonsense poem written by Lewis Carroll in 1874, when he was 42 years old...

.

Personal life

Although he played many sinister characters on screen, Karloff was known in real life as a very kind gentleman who gave generously, especially to children's charities. Beginning in 1940, Karloff dressed up as Father Christmas
Father Christmas
Father Christmas is the name used in many English-speaking countries for a figure associated with Christmas. A similar figure with the same name exists in several other countries, including France , Spain , Brazil , Portugal , Italy , Armenia , India...

 every Christmas to hand out presents to physically disabled children in a Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore is the largest independent city in the United States and the largest city and cultural center of the US state of Maryland. The city is located in central Maryland along the tidal portion of the Patapsco River, an arm of the Chesapeake Bay. Baltimore is sometimes referred to as Baltimore...

 hospital.

Despite living and working in the United States for many years, Karloff never became a naturalised American citizen, and he never legally changed his name to "Boris Karloff." He signed official documents "William H. Pratt, a.k.a. Boris Karloff."

Karloff was a charter member of the Screen Actors Guild
Screen Actors Guild
The Screen Actors Guild is an American labor union representing over 200,000 film and television principal performers and background performers worldwide...

, and was especially outspoken regarding working conditions on sets that actors were expected to deal with in the mid-1930s, some of which were extremely hazardous. In 1931, Boris Karloff took out insurance against premature aging that might be caused by his fright make-up.

He married six times and had one child, daughter Sara Karloff, by his fifth wife.

Death

Boris Karloff lived out his final years in England at his cottage, 'Roundabout,' in the Hampshire
Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

 village of Bramshott
Bramshott
Bramshott is a village in the East Hampshire district of Hampshire, England. It lies 0.9 miles north of Liphook.-Overview:The nearest railway station is 1.3 miles south of the village, at Liphook....

. After a long battle with arthritis
Arthritis
Arthritis is a form of joint disorder that involves inflammation of one or more joints....

 and emphysema
Emphysema
Emphysema is a long-term, progressive disease of the lungs that primarily causes shortness of breath. In people with emphysema, the tissues necessary to support the physical shape and function of the lungs are destroyed. It is included in a group of diseases called chronic obstructive pulmonary...

, he contracted pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

, succumbing to it in King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst
Midhurst
Midhurst is a market town and civil parish in the Chichester district of West Sussex, England, with a population of 4,889 in 2001. The town is situated on the River Rother and is home to the ruin of the Tudor Cowdray House and the stately Victorian Cowdray Park...

, Sussex
Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

 on 2 February 1969. He was cremated
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

, following a requested low-key service, at Guildford
Guildford
Guildford is the county town of Surrey. England, as well as the seat for the borough of Guildford and the administrative headquarters of the South East England region...

 Crematorium, Godalming
Godalming
Godalming is a town and civil parish in the Waverley district of the county of Surrey, England, south of Guildford. It is built on the banks of the River Wey and is a prosperous part of the London commuter belt. Godalming shares a three-way twinning arrangement with the towns of Joigny in France...

, Surrey
Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance. A memorial service was held at St Paul's, Covent Garden
St Paul's, Covent Garden
St Paul's Church, also commonly known as the Actors' Church, is a church designed by Inigo Jones as part of a commission by Francis Russell, 4th Earl of Bedford in 1631 to create "houses and buildings fitt for the habitacons of Gentlemen and men of ability" in Covent Garden, London, England.As well...

 (the Actors' Church), London, where there is also a plaque.

However, even death could not put an immediate halt to Karloff's media career. Four Mexican films for which Karloff shot his scenes in Los Angeles were released over a two-year period after he had died. They were dismissed, by critics and fans alike, as undistinguished efforts. Also, during the run of Thriller, Karloff lent his name and likeness to a comic book
Comic book
A comic book or comicbook is a magazine made up of comics, narrative artwork in the form of separate panels that represent individual scenes, often accompanied by dialog as well as including...

 for Gold Key Comics
Gold Key Comics
Gold Key Comics was an imprint of Western Publishing created for comic books distributed to newsstands. Also known as Whitman Comics, Gold Key operated from 1962 to 1984.-History:...

 based upon the series. After Thriller was cancelled, the comic was retitled Boris Karloff's Tales of Mystery. An illustrated likeness of Karloff continued to introduce each issue of this publication for nearly a decade after the real Karloff died; the comic lasted until the early 1980s.

Legacy

For his contribution to film and television, Boris Karloff was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Hollywood Walk of Fame
The Hollywood Walk of Fame consists of more than 2,400 five-pointed terrazzo and brass stars embedded in the sidewalks along fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Hollywood, California...

, at 1737 Vine Street
Vine Street
Vine is a street in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California that runs north-south from Melrose Avenue up past Hollywood Boulevard. The intersection of Hollywood and Vine was once a symbol of Hollywood itself...

 for motion pictures, and 6664 Hollywood Boulevard
Hollywood Boulevard
-Revitalization:In recent years successful efforts have been made at cleaning up Hollywood Blvd., as the street had gained a reputation for crime and seediness. Central to these efforts was the construction of the Hollywood and Highland shopping center and adjacent Kodak Theatre in 2001...

 for television.

Karloff was featured by the U.S. Postal Service as Frankenstein's Monster and the Mummy in its series "Classic Monster Movie Stamps" issued in September 1997.

In 2010, writer and actor Mark Gatiss
Mark Gatiss
Mark Gatiss is an English actor, screenwriter and novelist. He is best known as a member of the comedy team The League of Gentlemen, and has both written for and acted in the TV series Doctor Who and Sherlock....

 interviewed Sara Karloff about her father's career for his BBC documentary series A History of Horror
A History of Horror
A History of Horror is a 2010 three-part documentary series made for the BBC by British writer and actor Mark Gatiss...

.

On 24 January 2011 a new, authorised, biography – Boris Karloff: More Than a Monster by Stephen Jacobs – was published in the UK by Tomahawk Press. The book was published in Canada and the U.S. on 14 March 2011.

The Batman
Batman
Batman is a fictional character created by the artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. A comic book superhero, Batman first appeared in Detective Comics #27 , and since then has appeared primarily in publications by DC Comics...

 villain Clayface
Clayface
Clayface is an alias used by several DC Comics fictional characters, most of them possessing claylike bodies and shape-shifting abilities. All of them have been enemies of Batman.-Publication history:...

 (aka Basil Karlo) was inspired by Boris Karloff and his career.

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