(aka "?," Karloff)
November 23, 1887 - February 2, 1969
Born William Henry Pratt in Dulwich, England
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A Lot of Favorite Memories of Boris Karloff
- (Unconfirmed but nearly positive) In a small role as a swarthy Mexican bad guy in
the early silent western serial The Masked Rider (1919) — long thought to be lost, but
See details on the "Serial Squadron" Website.
- As "Dakar," a Hindu servant (and as The Priest of Kama-Sita in a flashback) in the amazing 15-chapter silent serial The Hope Diamond Mystery (1921).
- As the Caligaresque mesmerist in the murder melodrama The Bells (1926).
- As Waziri Chief "Owaza," in the silent Tarzan and the Golden Lion (1927).
- As a Soudanese Servant, a minor role as a murder suspect (Karloff's first sound film) in Behind That Curtain (1929), which downplayed the detective, Charlie Chan (E. L. Park).
- As "Mustapha," a villainous sheik in the 12-chapter serial King of the Wild (1930).
- As "Ned Galloway," a convict trusty turned killer in Howard Hawks' The Criminal Code (1931).
An important role, recreating his stage performance and earning praise from critics.
- As "The Professor," cultured accomplice of an avenging crimefighter in The Public Defender (1931).
- As "Joe Terry," a crooked politician's henchman and murderer in Graft (1931).
A career breakthrough — James Whale spotted him in the Universal commissary during filming and cast him in Frankenstein.
- As "T. Vernon Isopod," a pervert posing as a preacher in Five Star Final (1931).
- As "Fedor's Father," a child-beating brute in the John Barrymore melodrama The Mad Genius (1931).
- As "The Monster" (billed in opening credits as "?" in Frankenstein (1931).
Long Live the King!
- As "Jim Henderson," criminal henchman of "Mr. X" (Edward Van Sloan) in Behind the Mask (1932).
- As "Gaffney," a gangster gunned down while bowling a strike in Scarface (1932).
- As "Morgan," a brutish mute butler (influencing Charles Addams' "Lurch"?) in James Whale's sardonic The Old Dark House (1932).
- As the insidious "Dr. Fu Manchu," Sax Rohmer's intellectual villain, evil incarnate, in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932).
- As "Ardath Bey," a resuscitated Egyptian high priest, buried alive for his sacrilege (all for the sake of love) in Universal's classic The Mummy (1932).
It's unforgivable that the modern films didn't pick up on the long-lost romance angle — while Coppola's Dracula did!
- As "Professor Morlant," an Egyptologist who returns from the dead to seek revenge in the excellent English chiller The Ghoul (1933).
- As "Sanders," a religious fanatic, in John Ford's The Lost Patrol (1934).
- As "Hjalmar Poelzig," high priest of a Devil cult and old foe of Bela Lugosi's "Dr. Vitus Verdegast" in Universal's superbly stylish The Black Cat (1934),
directed by the great Edgar G. Ulmar.
- As "The Phantom" in a small scene with Bela Lugosi in the farcical mystery play-within-the-play Gift of Gab (1934).
- As himself, playing chess with Bela Lugosi in a brief, self-spoofing scene in the short Screen Snapshots #11 (1934).
- Bringing "The Monster" back to fabulous life, and learning to appreciate some of the finer things in life (wine, tobacco, music, and conversation) in
James Whale's masterpiece, Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
- In two very different roles (three, if you count one of them masquerading as the other) as "Anton and Gregor de Berghman,"
good / evil aristocrat twins united in death in The Black Room (1935).
- As "Edmond Bateman," a criminal disfigured and enslaved by mad surgeon Dr. Vollin (Bela Lugosi) to advance his tortured schemes in The Raven (1935).
- As "Janos Rukh," a radium-poisoned mad scientist whose touch literally brings death in The Invisible Ray (1936).
Bela Lugosi is a nice guy in this one too, but he doesn't finish last.
- As "John Ellman," an electrocuted musician revived by science in the Warner Brothers gangster/horror The Walking Dead (1936).
- As "Dr. Laurience," a mad doctor dabbling in mind transposition in the British film The Man Who Lived Again
(1936, original UK title Man Who Changed His Mind).
- As "Dr. Sartorius," a mad doctor who murders for research funds in the British Juggernaut (1936, US title The Demon Doctor).
- As "Gravelle," a great operatic baritone but a dangerous character in Charlie Chan at the Opera (1936), starring Warner Oland.
- As "Dr. David Mallory," a kindly old inventor controlled by gangsters in Night Key (1937).
- As "Wu Yen Fang," charming but deadly renegade Chinese general in West of Shanghai (1937).
- As "Jevries," a "red herring" murder suspect in The Invisible Menace (1938).
- As "James Lee Wong," infallible but somewhat Westernized Chinese sleuth in five Monogram programmers:
Keye Luke took over the part for one final film in the series, Phantom of Chinatown (1940).
This Mr. Wong is not to be confused with The Mysterious Mr. Wong, a villain played by Bela Lugosi for Monogram in 1934.
- Mr. Wong, Detective (1938),
- The Mystery of Mr. Wong (1939),
- Mr. Wong in Chinatown (1939),
- The Fatal Hour (1940) and
- Doomed to Die (1940).
- Bringing "The Monster" back to life for one final filmic stroll through familiar territory, before the neighborhood began to go downhill,
in Son of Frankenstein (1939).
The Monster is also beginning to show signs of wear, but there's lots of good stuff here, including some of the best performances of Bela Lugosi,
Basil Rathbone, and Lionel Atwill.
- As "Dr. Henryk Savaard," a mad doctor trying to resuscitate the dead in The Man They Could Not Hang (1939).
- As "Mord" the executioner, henchman of evil King Richard III in Tower of London (1939),
starring Basil Rathbone and featuring Vincent Price very early in his career.
- As "butler Valdar" aka agent "Schiller" aka German spy "Franz Strendler," in British Intelligence (1940).
- As "Dr. Ernest Sovac,"a brain surgeon mixed up with gangsters in Black Friday (1940),
with Bela Lugosi in a small role.
- As "Dr. Leon Kravaal," a mad cryogenic researcher in The Man with Nine Lives (1940, UK title Behind the Door).
- As "Dr. Charles Gaudet," wrongly imprisoned and hellishly mistreated in Devil's Island (1940).
- As "Dr. John Garth," a doctor imprisoned for a mercy killing, driven to murder by injections of criminal blood in Before I Hang (1940).
- As "Dr. Bernard Adrian," a doctor who kills (dressed in a gorilla suit!) to obtain spinal fluid for his
paralysis cures in the fun but preposterous The Ape (1940).
- As "Judge Spencer Mainwaring," one of a suave trio of conmen (the other two are Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre!) in You'll Find Out (1940),
a starring vehicle for popular bandleader Kay Kyser.
- As "Dr. Julian Blair," a mad scientist trying to communicate with the dead in The Devil Commands (1941).
- As "Professor Nathaniel Billings," a comedic mad scientist trying to create superman (his contribution to the war effort) in The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942),
co-starring Peter Lorre.
- As "Dr. Hohner," a Svengali-like opera house physician in The Climax (1944, Karloff's first color film).
- As "Dr. Gustav Niemann," a "would-be-(Dr.) Frankenstein" who impersonates a chamber-of-horrors showman and collects real monsters in
House of Frankenstein (1944), co-starring Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, J. Carrol Naish, Glenn Strange and Elena Verdugo.
- As "John Gray," a cabman who supplies very fresh bodies for medical research in The Body Snatcher (1945).
A stylish Val Lewton production, directed by Robert Wise and co-starring Henry Daniell and Bela Lugosi (his last film with Karloff).
- As "General Nikolas Pherides," beset with plague, superstition, premature burial and lots of spooky atmosphere in Isle of the Dead (1945).
Another Val Lewton production, directed by Mark Robson.
- As "Master George Sims," sadistic warden of an insane asylum in Bedlam (1946).
Another fine Val Lewton production directed by Mark Robson.
- As "Dr. Hollingshead," phony psychiatrist and jewel thief in the Danny Kaye comedy thriller The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (1947),
based on the famous story by James Thurber..
- As "Chief Guyasuta," a very bad Indian, in Unconquered (1947), starring Gary Cooper.
- As "Gruesome," a comic-strip gangster (in the best sense of the phrase) in Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947),
a pleasant thriller with good comic moments and a fine cast including Ralph Byrd (Tracy), Anne Gwynne, Milton Parsons and Skelton Knaggs.
- As "Tishomingo," a very good Indian, in Tap Roots (1948).
- As "Swami Talpur," a mesmerizing red herring in Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff (1949).
- As "Voltan," a faithful family servant in the Charles Laughton melodrama The Strange Door (1951), based on a story by
Robert Louis Stevenson.
- As "Dr. Meissen," the castle physician, in The Black Castle (1952), co-starring Lon Chaney Jr.
- As "Dr. Henry Jekyll," alias "Mr. Hyde" (with help from stuntman Eddie Parker)
in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953).
- As "Colonel March," solving crimes and sporting an eye patch in the British TV series Colonel March of Scotland Yard (1954).
- As himself, getting honored by friends and co-workers in a biographical TV tribute on This Is Your Life (1957),
especially notable for an appearance by makeup genius Jack Pierce.
- As "James Rankin," a criminologist who slowly realizes that he's also a Hyde-like psychotic murderer in
the British film The Haunted Strangler (1958, UK title The Grip of the Strangler).
- As "Dr. Bolton," pioneer anaesthesiologist forced to deal with unsavory characters in the British film Corridors of Blood
(1958, UK title The Doctor of Seven Dials).
Co-starring Christopher Lee.
- As "Baron Victor von Frankenstein," disfigured by the Nazis but carrying on the family tradition in Frankenstein—1970 (1958).
- As himself, hosting 67 episodes of the American mystery/horror anthology TV series Thriller (1960-62),
many of them excellent horror stories, and a few starring himself:
- as "Clay Mace" in "The Prediction" (November 22, 1960)
- as "Doctor Thorne" in "The Premature Burial" (October 2, 1961)
- as "Dr. Albert Farnham" in "The Last of the Sommervilles" (November 6, 1961)
- as "Pop Jenkins" / "Colonel Jackson Beauregarde LeJean" in "Dialogues with Death" (December 4, 1961)
- as "Doktor Konrad Markesan" in "The Incredible Doktor Markesan" (February 26, 1962)
- Reprising the great stage role written for him in the 40's, murderous "Jonathan Brewster"
in the Hallmark Hall of Fame television production of "Arsenic and Old Lace" (1961), co-starring Tony Randall as Mortimer Brewster.
- As himself, joining old fiends Peter Lorre and Lon Chaney Jr. in a quest for what scares people in the wonderful "Lizard's Leg and Owlet's Wing"
episode of the TV series Route 66 (October 26, 1962).
This show is priceless to horror fans because the producers persuaded Boris and Lon to suffer through being made up as their most famous characters again
— Boris as the Frankenstein monster, and Lon as the Wolf Man, Kharis the Mummy, and his Dad's Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Peter just wears a cape and top hat, but he's spooky enough already.
- As "Dr. Scarabus," an evil sorceror in Roger Corman's horror comedy The Raven (1963), co-starring old fiends Vincent Price and Peter Lorre, with
Hazel Court and young Jack Nicholson (as Lorre's son!).
- As "Baron Eric von Leppe," driven mad by a vengeful witch in Roger Corman's The Terror (1963), thrown together with cutting room leftovers,
with an early performance from Jack Nicholson.
- As "Amos Hinchley," a senile old man who gets the last laugh in the genre-star-packed, farcical The Comedy of Terrors (1963),
directed by Jacques Tourneur and co-starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone.
- Introducing three spooky stories (as himself), and starring in "The Wurdalak" segment (as the vampire, "Gorca"),
in Mario Bava's excellent Italian horror anthology Black Sabbath (1964, Italian title I Tre Volti Della Paura).
- Uncredited in a cameo as an art dealer in the Annette & Frankie opus Bikini Beach (1964).
- As "Nahum Witley," turned into a disintegrating radioactive monster in Die, Monster Die! (1965),
based on H.P. Lovecraft's "The Color Out of Space".
- As "Hiram Stokeley," a restless ghost (no wonder) in The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini (1966).
- As "Mr. Singh," an East Indian plaguing the heroes in The Wild Wild West (September 23, 1966) starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin.
- In comical drag as "Mother Muffin," in the "The Mother Muffin Affair" episode of the TV series The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. (September 27, 1966).
- Giving marvelous voice (only) to "The Grinch" the Who-hater who learns to have a heart in the half-hour yuletide TV cartoon
How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966), animated by Chuck Jones.
- As "Professor Monserrat," a mad scientist dabbling in dangerous vicarious experiences in The Sorcerers (1967).
- Lending his voice to the "Animagic" puppetry (based on Jack Davis caricature) of "Baron Von Frankenstein," in Mad Monster Party (1967).
- As "Don Ernesto Silvando," a VERY quixotic Spaniard, in the ":Mainly on the Plains" episode of the TV series I Spy
(February 22, 1967), starring Robert Culp and Bill Cosby.
- As "Charles Badalescu," a blind sculptor, in the Spanish film Cauldron of Blood (1967, Spanish title El Collecionista de Cadaveres).
- Playing a heroic version of himself, aging horror star "Byron Orlock," in Peter Bogdanovich's intelligent, timely Targets (1968).
- As "Professor Marshe," in The Crimson Cult (1968), co-starring Christopher Lee and Barbara Steele.
- A trouper to the last, starring in four Mexican/American productions released posthumously under the following titles and numerous others:
- as "Matthias Morteval," who fakes his own death and murders his heirs in House of Evil (1968),
- as "Dr. Carl Mandel", a good mad doctor who saves the world with his computer in The Fear Chamber (1968),
- as "Karl Van Molder," alias "Damballah," an evil scientist with an army of zombies in Isle of the Snake People (1971),
- as "Professor John Mayer" a mad scientist plagued with space aliens and a sex-crazed killer in The Incredible Invasion (1971).
Go Back to BOOS WHO Classic Horror Players Directory List
Last revised August 21, 2005 by George "E-gor" Chastain.
Maintained by George "E-gor" Chastain