Home Books Music Films TV Biographies:
Boris Karloff (1887-1969)

Born William Henry Pratt in London, on the 23rd November 1887, the young Karloff emigrated to Canada in 1909. It was here that he began his acting career with a touring company.

In 1918 he went to Hollywood, where he appeared in a few films as an extra and later in bit parts, especially as a villain - naturally enough.

Playing Frankenstein in 1931 was Karloff's big breakthrough. He didn't wear a mask, so his facial movements and expressions would look more real, and the expertise of Universal's make-up people, particularly Jack Pierce, turned this kind, cricket-loving Englishman into the scariest thing probably ever seen in movies up to that point. Karloff was a man of average size, but was padded out and given those famous brick like shoes to give an impression of a man of huge stature.

Karloff played Frankenstein three times, and it was really his defining role. He was also happy enough to send himself up, as he did in his last film, 'Targets'. He was also to star as the Chinese detective Mr. Wong, and was the killer in the classic 'The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty'.

He made his mark on TV as 'Colonel March Of Scotland Yard' 1953-54, and as the host of the 'Thriller' series 1960-62. On the stage he appeared in 'Arsenic And Old Lace', where he killed anybody who said he looked like Boris Karloff, and as Captain Hook (naturally) in 'Peter Pan'.

He died on February 2nd 1969 in Midhurst, Sussex, England.

- Paul Rance/

Boris Karloff - Principal Films

Frankenstein (1931)
The Old Dark House (1932)
The Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932)
The Mummy (1932)
The Ghoul (1933)
The Lost Patrol (1934)
The Black Cat (1934)
The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
Mr. Wong, Detective (1938)
Son Of Frankenstein (1939)
The Mystery Of Mr. Wong (1939)
Mr. Wong In China Town (1939)
The Body Snatcher (1945)
Bedlam (1946)
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty (1947)
Abbott And Costello Meet The Killer (1949)
Abbott And Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1953)
How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
The Raven (1963)
Targets (1968)

BORIS KARLOFF DVDs available from - in association with
'The Raven [1963] DVD' The Raven [1963]
B0016586UY Son Of Frankenstein [1939]
B0001ZWN4K Frankenstein/Bride Of Frankenstein [1931]
B00006RHV8 The Mummy [1932]

Boris Karloff Biography by Gordon B. Shriver


This website is designed by