Boris Karloff – A Horror Icon Birthday Salute

Boris KarloffIf horror movie icon/legend Boris Karloff was alive today to celebrate his birthday on this day, he would’ve had to blow out 124 candles on his cake. (A suggested gift would be a fire extinguisher.)

Born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887 in East Dulwich, London, Boris Karloff became the horror genre’s most famous face when he portrayed the Monster in Frankenstein (1931), paving the way for the social acceptance of every monster since – with no dis to Lon Chaney’s badass Phantom (of the Opera/1925.)

According to Wikipedia™ (dumb name – they should change it to the Human Wikipedia – First Sequence), Karloff took the stage name from “Boris Karlov,” a mad scientist character in the 1920 novel The Drums of Jeopardy. Haven’t read it. Too many words, not enough pictures. That, and I’ve been kinda busy since 1920.

It was rumored in order to achieve the cadaverous visage of Frankenstein’s monster (puzzle-pieced together from parts of icky exhumed corpses), Karloff had his upper back teeth yanked out, thereby giving him that much desired sunken cheek look. If true, that’s committing to the role. And those bolts on his neck? Installed by Les Schwab Tires™ (just kidding, it was Midas Mufflers™.)

Karloff got the role of the Monster after Bela Lugosi (Dracula) refused to don four-inch platforms and pull his teeth out (what a prima donna). Boris also played Imhotep in The Mummy (1932), wrapping himself in dirty Band-Aids™ and spawning four sequels. (Yeah, there were remakes, but clearly you’re missing the point.)

Absolut KarloffRemember the Dr. Seuss story How The Grinch Who Stole Christmas? No? I’m surprised – it’s been a holiday staple since its release in 1966. Karloff did the timeless narration, made charmingly moreso by his famous lisp. But you’d know that if you weren’t such a grinch yourself.

Of course, Boris was more than a monstermummy and a narrator. He appeared in close to one hundred million other forms of theater/theatre before his death in 1969 at age 81. (Amazingly coincidental, the movie Frankenstein, which catapulted Karloff into superstardom, just celebrated its 80th anniversary on November 21st.)

The Bride, The JiltedKarloff’s off-Broadway legacy includes six wives, none of which legally include that picky bitch Bride (actually, they didn’t give her a name) from The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), who took one look at the Monster and hissed and screamed her head off. Too bad it didn’t work out – she sounded like the perfect wife.

One Response to “Boris Karloff – A Horror Icon Birthday Salute”

  1. HB Boris – I used to live in East Dulwich!

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