Boris Karloff

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Boris Karloff (23 November 1887 – 2 February 1969), whose real name was William Henry Pratt, was an English-born actor who emigrated to Canada in 1909.[1]

Karloff starred as Frankenstein's monster in Universal's Frankenstein film series, and as the Chinese detective Mr. Wong.

Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror films and his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939). His popularity following Frankenstein was such that for a brief time he was billed simply as "Karloff" or "Karloff the Uncanny". His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch in the television special of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Contents

Early years

Karloff was born at 36 Forest Hill Road, East Dulwich, London, SE22, England, where a blue plaque can now be seen. His parents were Edward John Pratt, Jr. and Eliza Sarah Millard. His paternal grandparents were Edward John Pratt, an Anglo-Indian, and Eliza Julia (Edwards) Pratt, a sister of Anna Leonowens (whose tales about life in the royal court of Siam (now Thailand) were the basis of the musical The King and I.) The two sisters were also of Anglo-Indian heritage.[2]

Karloff was brought up in Enfield. He was the youngest of nine children, and following his mother's death was raised by his elder siblings. He later attended Enfield Grammar School before moving to Uppingham School and Merchant Taylors' School, Northwood, and went on to attend King's College London where he studied to go into the consular service. He dropped out in 1909 and worked as a farm labourer and did various odd jobs until he happened into acting.[3] His brother, Sir John Thomas Pratt, became a distinguished British diplomat.[4] Karloff was bow-legged, had a lisp, and stuttered as a young boy.[5] He conquered his stutter, but not his lisp, which was noticeable all through his career.

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