Karloff, Boris

Tagged: Film | Author

Pseudonym of UK-born actor William Henry Pratt (1887-1969), in Canada and then the US from the teens of the twentieth century; he featured in many silent films from about 1916, including Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927) (see Tarzan Films), based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel; but became famous for his title role in the early sound film Frankenstein (1931) directed by James Whale (see Horror in SF; Mary Shelley). This film and its sequels – beginning with The Bride of Frankenstein (1935) – together created the paradigm visual image of the Frankenstein Monster as an ambivalent cultural Icon.

Other Cinema productions featuring Karloff which are given entries in this encyclopedia are: Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927) (see Tarzan Films); The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932), where he plays Sax Rohmer's dread Yellow Peril arch-Villain; The Invisible Ray (1936); The Man They Could Not Hang (1939); Black Friday (1940; vt Friday the Thirteenth); Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) (see Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde); and The Sorcerers (1967).

Karloff's role in compiling the three Anthologies published under his name has not been established. They are Tales of Terror (anth 1943), And the Darkness Falls (anth 1946) and Boris Karloff's Favorite Horror Stories (anth, 1965; vt The Boris Karloff Horror Anthology 1965). Tales of the Frightened (coll 1963), with principal cover billing "Narrated by Boris Karloff", was written by Michael Avallone. Near the end of his life, Karloff returned to England; he hosted the Television anthology series Out of This World (1962). [JC/DRL]

William Henry Pratt

born Honor Oak, Camberwell [now London]: 23 November 1887

died Midhurst, Sussex: 2 February 1969

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