Friday, September 7, 2007
The Art of Boris Karloff
Actor. Born William Henry Pratt in Victorian England, Boris Karloff was a truly gentle person who nevertheless left us a memorable legacy of screen horrors. After more than 70 unremarkable films, he was tapped to play the "monster" in "Frankenstein" in 1931, and made the character his imperishable own. In 1932 he was "The Mummy;" in 1935, he returned to his earlier role in "The Bride of Frankenstein," possibly a greater movie than the original. He went on to roles in innumerable films, plays and television programs; capped, perhaps, by his narration of "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" in 1966. He was well loved not just by his fans, but by all of Hollywood, for his greatest character - his own.
Boris Karloff's most famous role as the monster in Frankenstein (US, d. James Whale, 1931) made him a legend but it did little - or perhaps too much - for his career; he is far more memorable as Ned in The Criminal Code (d. Howard Hawks) earlier the same year.
The actor (born William Henry Pratt in London) began his screen career in the US in 1916 with The Dumb Girl of Portici (d. Lois Weber) and, in all, made 164 feature films, mostly American. The British-made The Ghoul (d. T. Hayes Hunter, 1933) was no doubt influenced by his US success in the horror genre, as were some later UK appearances.