Above, Boris Karloff and Marilyn Harris in Frankenstein.
by Armand Vaquer
This coming Monday, February 2 will mark the 40th anniversary of the death of famed horror star Boris Karloff.
Boris Karloff lived out his final years at his cottage, 'Roundabout,' in the Hampshire village of Bramshott. After a long battle with arthritis and emphysema, he contracted pneumonia, succumbing to it in the King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, Sussex, England, on February 2, 1969, at the age of 81. He was cremated, following a requested low-key service, at Guildford Crematorium, Godalming, Surrey, where he is commemorated by a plaque in the Garden of Remembrance. A memorial service was held at St Paul's, Covent Garden (The Actors' Church), London, where there is also a plaque.
Karloff was born William Henry Pratt November 23, 1887 in East Dulwich, London, England. His birthplace is now marked by a plaque.
He is best remembered as Frankenstein's monster in the groundbreaking film Frankenstein (1931) for Universal Pictures, directed by James Whale. He repeated the role two more times in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and in Son of Frankenstein (1939). He also was Imhotep in The Mummy (1932).
Above, Karloff throttles make-up artist Jack Pierce on the set of Son of Frankenstein.
Karloff always claimed he chose the first name "Boris" because it sounded foreign and exotic, and that "Karloff" was a family name. But his only child, Sara denies knowledge of any part of the family with the name "Karloff."
He never resented being typecast as a horror star, instead, he felt that it was a blessing. Before his big break in Frankenstein, Karloff was featured in minor supporting roles and often had to work as a truck driver to put food on the table.
Above, Bela Lugosi (left) and Karloff in The Black Cat.
His popularity continued three decades later and was active up to his death in 1969.
In 1998, Karloff was featured in a series of "Monster Stamps" issued by the U.S. Postal Service.