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Behind the Monster – Boris Karloff (Frankenstein)


Boris Karloff, was born William Henry Pratt on the 23rd of November, 1887 in London. Karloff is best remembered for his horror roles, and in particular, his portrayal of the Frankenstein Monster (Frankenstein 1931, Bride of Frankenstein 1935 and Son of Frankenstein 1939). The actor also portrayed other iconic horror characters, such as Imhotep in The Mummy (1932), Dr. Fu Manchu in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) or the Prof. Henry Morlant in The Ghoul (1933).


His fame and fortune with Frankenstein came relatively late in his career. When Bela Lugosi refused to take a role in which he would have his face hidden by makeup and have no lines, the role went to Karloff. He was 44 when director James Whale was searching for somebody to play the Monster in his new production when he glimpsed Karloff in the canteen on the Universal back lot. The bulky costume with four inch platform boots made it an arduous role but the costume and torturously administered makeup produced the classic image.


On February 2, 1969, Karloff died in his home in England from emphysema. He was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures and television posthumously.

Son of Frankenste Color Test
“The makeup had this greenish tint (…) in black and white film, on the screen, it would translate into a deathly gray.” – Sara Karloff (Boris Karloff daughter)

Frankenstein (1931) Trailer

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