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This Day in Horror: Happy Birthday Boris Karloff

Born on this day in 1887: Boris Karloff

Born William Pratt in England, Karloff was the youngest of nine siblings, and was a bit of a black sheep – his other siblings were all distinguished members of the British Foreign Service. He did not graduate college, and moved to Canada as a young man. He worked as a day laborer in between theatrical acting gigs.

Best known for his role as the monster in Frankenstein, as well as future horror film roles, he acted in over eighty films before he landed Frankenstein. He will forever be known as Frankenstein’s monster, with the look and the makeups copyrighted by Universal.

Karloff became a horror star after appearing in The Old Dark House and The Mummy. His other horror vehicles included The Ghoul; The Black Cat; The Raven; The Bride of Frankenstein; The Black Room; and The Walking Dead. Horror films suffered significantly when the Hays Code introduced self-censorship into the film industry. However, the success of reissues of Frankenstein and Dracula in 1939 brought Universal back to making horror films.

During this period, Karloff starred in horror films that included: Son of Frankenstein; The Man They Could Not Hang; Black Friday; Before I Hang; The Man with Nine Lives; The Ape; The Devil Commands; The Climax; House of Frankenstein; Isle of the Dead; Bedlam; Black Sabbath; The Terror; The Comedy of Terrors; and The Crimson Cult (aka Curse of the Crimson Altar, his last film).

Written by Alyse Wax

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