Boris Karloff's movie career began, as far as many people are concerned, with the classic FRANKENSTEIN. Before that, the great menace lay dormant, resting in utter obscurity like the thing he played. When Doctor Frankenstein -Colin Clive- dug up all the parts and put together the screen's most famous monster, the actor who took the role might really have been created then and there.

In fact, those 1932 movie goers who sat in delighted horror in the theaters didn't even know the name of the man who was scaring them. Karloff's byline wasn't anywhere on the screen! When the names of the cast flashed on, the part of The Monster was simply credited as HIMSELF.

Maybe the big-shots at Universal didn't want the actor's name known or because the illusion of a creature created by science would be destroyed. Or maybe it was because Karloff was still only box-offfice small change. Perhaps it struck them also as a good publicity stunt. Whatever the reason, they didn't continue with the idea.

His next film, THE MUMMY, saw his name featured prominently.... Now he was the second great horror star since movies began to talk -Bela Lugosi was the first-. Since then, his fame has been assured. He is truly The Master of Horror. Actually before that memorable moment when lightning struck, and . .. something was born in that old tower before that day of fame, Boris Karloff had played quite a few parts.

On screen, he has essayed small roles in both silent and sound pictures.In 1931, the year before his leap to fame, he played in THE CRIMINAL CODE, in FIVE STAR FINAL, and with the great John Barrymore in THE MAD GENIUS. The latter wasn't horror, and Karloff played only a small part. Yet already he was playing villains . . . though not monsters . . . not yet.

The man who was to become known to millions as Boris Karloff was born under quiet circumstances in London, England. He was christened William Henry Pratt on that 23rd day of November in 1887, and it is possible that even then his family had the youngster's future set.

Mr. Pratt was a public official in India and it seemed only proper that William Henry -the youngest of 8 sons- should follow in his foot steps. Accordingly, the youth was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School, at Uppingham, and finally at London University, for the Consular Service. He specialized in Chinese customs, and it was planned that he serve there.-This must have come in handy in later years, when he played oriental roles like "Mr. Wong" and "Fu Manchu".

On his early years, Karloff says: "Never knew my father. No, never did.Died when I was a baby. I was brought up by my brothers. Only one of themstill survives." This is Sir John, an ex-diplomat, "a gentleman of the tweedy country sort."

Young William Henry soon discovered he had no liking for the striped trousers and cutaway coat of the diplomatic world. In the early 1900's, he ran off to Canada, where no doubt opportunities seemed more abundant than in England. Some where along the line, William Henry Pratt changed. His initial goal was to try farming, but he later worked as a truck driver laborer, and then finally an actor This was in 1910. He was able to persuade a travelling stock company to hire him by telling them that he was an accomplished actor from abroad. At least the last part was true. His stage debut was, appropriately enough in "The Devil". He didn't play the role of Satan, but that of a banker. Other jobs with other such companies followed. Going in those early days was quite rugged. The companies trouped around quite a bit, and William Henry got to do nearly as much travelling as he would have in the Consular Service. One year in North Dakota he played over a hundred different parts!

Such training proved in valuable for the young actor, and he soon becameas experienced as he'd first claimed to be. Later, over-enthusiastic press agents tended to exaggerate his importance in those early acting days. "I was only a small member of a small troupe in the sticks," says Karloff.

Stardom was to come much later. his name to the one by which he is now known Boris Karloff. Why? "Well," he says, "I didn't think Pratt a terribly good stage name, so I changed it to Karloff. It's a remote family name on my mother's side. It's been a very fortunate name for me. -A lucky name.

World War I broke upon the scene and Karloff tried to enlist in theBritish Army. But his military career was cut short before it began a heart murmur caused him to be rejected. So he continued acting. One stock company brought him to Los Angeles, then just beginning to be a movie center.The company chose that moment to fold, and the budding actor returned to driving a truck.

It was at this time that another turning point in Karloff's career was reached. He met Lon Chaney, Sr. The famous actor was soon to become the horror king of the silent era, playing a variety of bizarre and freskish roles: the Phantom of the Opera, the Hunchback of Notre Dame, a vampire,and many others. It was he who induced Karloff to try movies, and try them he did as an extra.

Karloff and the elder Chaney were to remain fast friends, though they never appeared together on the screen. Karloff's first known film appearance was in 1919. Douglas Fairbanks, the swashbuckling silent star, had formed his own company to make an adventure picture called HIS MAJESTY, THE AMERICAN.

Our Boris played one of a gang of spies, and was on the screen for a grand total of two minutes! The film was released by United Artists. Years later, in 1956, Karloff made VOODOO ISLAND for the same firm as a star. He went on playing a variety of minor roles. In his third film, he had a featured part as a villainous French Canadian fur trapper. This was THE DEADLIER SEX, released in 1920.

It was his first important screen role, the first of a succession of assorted villain!.These were to include a Moroccan bandit, an evil first mate, an Indlan Maharajah, a sheik, and various half breeds. He was no longer an extra now, but by no means a star, either.

In OMAR THE TENTMAXER -1922- he finally played a non-villainous role: an oriental potenhte. But the respite was short-lived, for he was soon back carrying knives and guns and leering evilly. It was the same pattern, in a contemporary American locale -DYNA MITE DAN, 1924.-, a foreign one -PARISIAN NIGHTS, '25-, or in the old West -PRAIRIE LIFE, '25- . MOLTEN LEAD AND MESMERISM.

Lest anyone get the idea that our Boris was the unhappy victim of type casting, let me reassure them. "When I first started acting on the stage," says the Master of Horror, "I liked 'heavy' roles, and later in pictures I always sought them." He continued to seek -and get- parts as a crook, a murder victim, a sailor, a border smuggler, and a conspirator. A highlight was his role in FORBIDDEN CARGO -'25-.

As the first mate of a rum-running ship, he was shown preparing to torturethe film's hero by pouring molten lead in his eyes. It was a fore taste of his later career and of the many tortures he was to inflict on countless victims. But more important still was his appearance opposite Lionel Barrymore in THE BELLS -'26-. Barrymore was a murderer, and Karloff played a mesmerist, in a part that brought him his first critical notice.

Times don't change very much. In 1927, "Tarzan" pictures were being made, just as they are today. Boris appeared in one, TARZAN AND THE GOLDEN LION. James Pierce was the ape-man, and Karloff played -as nearly as can now be determined- the part of the chief villain, the head of a group of lion worshippers.

Just as his career was starting to look brighter. THE JAZZ SINGER electrified the world, and Karloff dropped into obscurity again, lost in the shuffle of the conversion to sound but his stage training had taught him to act with his voice as well as his face and gestures, and he began to get small parts in early "talkies". His first such appearance was in UNHOLY NIGHT,made by MGM in 1929. It was directed by Lionel Barrymore, who may have remembered their appearance together in THE BELLS when he decided to give Boris the part of a Hindu servant. Thus Boris Karloff spoke on the screen for the first time, although no one paid much attention.

He played featured parts in films like THE SEA BAT and CRAFT in 1930and '31, and took a stab at comedy in CRACKED NUTS -RKO, '31 -, playinga revolutionist in a mythical kingdom. When we interviewed Boris Karloff, he had just moved into an apartment in Kensington, a fashionable London residential area. The presence of painters and the paraphernelia of interior decoration did not lend itself to the sinister atmosphere we had anticipated, bu twe were gratified to find that the elevator door creaked hiddeously. Our knock was answered by the vivacicus Mrs. Karloff who ushered us into the apartment, still in the process of being renovated. From a room hidden to our eyes came a greeting in the voice famous throughout the world.

Then, suddenly, Boris Karloff stood framed in the doorway, much taller and better built than we had been led to believe by erroneous reports of a withered and declining 78 year old. Standing before us, he seemed to personify the radiant and mature good health associated with the British. A blue carpet led us to his cheerful and tastefully furnished study. Here was no somber corner of a cold Carpathian castle. . . no hint of dark malevolent spirts. Instead, the warm London sunlight filtered through a large window.

Cricket trophies and a bookshelf crammed with historical texts and volumes by the late Winston Churchill displayed the patriotic tastes of the very British Mr. Karloff. The only disturbing accessory to the room was a silver oxygen cylinder that bore mute testimony of a recent illness. Seated in comfortable armchairs, we began by showing a 1933 interview in which Karloff had stated that he would not like to return to London because of the many changes since his departure. How, we asked, did he find the old place in 1966?

KARLOFF: Well, it's strange, of course. I found great changes when I first came home in 1933. Not so much in London that was a rather peculiar thing. I found much more changes in the countryside because I left England in 1909 to go to Canada, and, in the interval, there had been the great advent of the motor car, you see. Here lots of new buildings and that sort of thing, of course. In London,with the smoke and the grime, they weather so quickly it all becomes part of the scene, you know, and you don't notice it so much.

MM: Do you think you could settle a very important biographical controversy? What is your real name? William Henry or Charles Edward?

KARLOFF: William Henry! I don't know how that Charles Edward came about. Somebody, when I was under contract at Universal, I think, made the mistake in the publicity department. If a thing ever goes out, you know, it never dies; it crops up again and again.

MM: Were you born in Enfield or Dulwich?

KARLOFF: Dulwich.

MM: Have you a personal preference for villainous parts?

KARLOFF: No, not really. I think all actors get typed. I know they rebel against it. Some actors do... or they are supposed to . . . I don't know if they really do. But I think all actors are typed, and when you 'are typed, you're a very lucky man . . . because the audience has shown a preference. I think the audience must be your master. They've shown a preference for what they like to see you do, and I think you ought to stick to it.

MM:But you were able to get out of it with Colonel March, weren't you?

KARLOFF: I don't quite under stand what you mean by "get out of it? If you're thinking of the Frankenstein Monster, I only played him three times . . . and that was a long time ago.

MM: But one wouldn't really call him a villain...

KARLOFF: No. I know when youngsters wrote to me at the time, if anything, they expressed great compassion for the Monster.

MM: Do you think this is because most of your villains have been victims of circumstances?

KARLOFF: Well, I think most villains are . . . even in real life. Ihadn't thought about it particularly. I don't think the average chap who gets into trouble call him a villain if you like deliberately sets out to do that. I think people get caught up in things as they happen.

MM: You've worked in both films and theater . . .

KARLOFF: Oh yes, I began in theater; I had ten years in the theater.

MM: Which do you prefer?

KARLOFF: Theater it's live, it's immediate, it's a sustainedeffort and it's in continuity. It's much harder work than films and muchmore difficult because films aren t shot in continuity . . . they're spread over so long a time. It's hard to sustain a thing in film especially when it's not known in which order it's going to be shown.

MM: What sort of films do you go to yourself?

KARLOFF: I don't go a great deal.

MM: What about FRANKENSTEIN, the picture that started it all?

KARLOFF: In many ways this was the first real "monster" film. Since then, of course, a variety of all sizes and shapes of creations have lurched, shambled, crawled or leaped across the screen. An equal number of fiendish or misguided doctors and professors have given them life, if you can call it that, But this was the first, the original the granddaddy of all the things. It is true that there had been horror pictures in the silent era. Lon Chaney Sr. played many a fantastic creature. And the year before Karloff's star debut, Lugosi had brought Count Dracula to life. But none of these pictures were so widely imitated and copied as FRANKENSTEIN.

MM: How did he get the part? What made Universal Pictures cast him in Mary Shelley's horror classic, in a role that catapulted him to fame? Different people give different versions of the event. Karloff himself has said JOURNAL OF FRANKENSTEIN- that it was his portrayal of a convict in THE CRIMINAL CODE which lingered in the mind of a studio executive, and induced him to try Boris for the part.

Carl Laemmle, then the head of Universal, talked of Karloff's eyes. "They mirrored the sufferings of the poor dumb creature, in contrast to his frighfful appearance and hideous strength." But perhaps the real story was told by Bela Lugosi, in an interview with the press in 1935. The Hungarian born actor had come to Hollywood in 1930 to repeat his stage success in DRACULA.

When the bigwigs at Universal saw they had a hit on their hands, they at tempted to sign Lugosi to a long-term contract. But the star's agentheld out for too much money, and the deal didn't materialize. "So they exercised their Option on me," explained Bela, "and informed me that I was to do FRANKENSTEIN.

Universal had signed him for the DRACULA part, with the agreement that he was to make one more picture for them, if they desired probably at the same salary. - Lugosi continued, "I made up for the role and had tests taken, which were pronounced O.K. Then I read the script, and didn't like it. So I asked to be withdrawn from the picture. Carl Laemmle said he'd permit it, if I'd furnish an actor to play the part.

I scouted the agencies and came upon Boris Karloff. I recommended him. He took tests. And that's how he happened to become a famous star of horror pictures my rival, in fact.' It is interesting to speculate on how different the careers of both men might have been if Lugosi had accepted the part.

Of course he finally did play Frankenstein's monster, in the 1943 productionof FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE WOLF MAN. In 1952 Lugosi gave an account of the FRANKENSTEIN casting to science fiction and horror writer Charles Beaumont.

It is quoted in Beaumont's moving obituary of him in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION. December 1956. Bela related how he'd turneddown the part because it had no dialogue. He had then called Karloff in New York, telling him that the part was only a way make the rent money." Lugosi's judgment was unfortunately not equal to his acting ability, for Karloff went on to surpass him in fame, and the part of Frankenstein's twisted creation will probably live as long as movies continue to be shown. The Frankenstein's monster remains Karloff's favorite role. "A fascinating job he had no speech and hardly any intelligence, yet you had to convey a tragic part," says Boris.

When the film was finished, he kept the padded shoes and giant headgear he had worn in it as souvenirs. His subsequent horror career included manyroles, but he twice returned to the one that brought him fame. That monster was, and is, my best friend. I had been an unsuccessful, unknown actor for 20 years until I played him." So says Karloff.But after SON OF FRANKENSTEIN -'39-, the monster's mask was laid aside for good. "I refused to play him any more. He was going downhill.

We had exhausted his possibilities. He was be becoming a clown." The role brought him much fan mail and he quotes from it to reinforce his theory that horror films are not harmful to young people. "All my letters from young people invariably expressed great compassion for the monster I played. I played it as a poor, helpless, inartlculate thing which wasa victim of circumstances. They understood that, somehow." Although it was a while before they realized it, Universal now had a new star. Meanwhile, Karloff went on making non-horror films.

In SCARFACE, he and Paul Muni were rival mobsters until Muni shot him down in a bowling alley. By 1933 his fame was established, however, and Universal let out that they were planning to star him in a screen version of H. G. Wells ' THE INVISIBLE MAN. But Claude Rains got the part instead, and Karloff returned in triumph to his native England -for the first time since he'd left it, more than 20 years earlier- to star in THE GHOUL. His hobbies at that time included hiking and cricket.

In fact, he and the late C. Aubrey Smith were coaches of the UCLA cricket team. He is married -his wife isn't in the theatrical profession- and has a daughter -Sara Jane born in 1938-. His recent interests have included gardening and English poetry. Notwhat you'd expect from the diabolic roles he played, but as he says, "In person . . . I'm disappointingly normal."

What is he like off the screen? "Such a sincere, friendly talker, one feels enriched after meeting him," said one reporter. He was described as six feet tall, tanned,with gentle brown eyes and a shy smile. A kindly man with a sense of humor, and a love for acting. His hair is thick and glossy, he wears tortoise shell spectacles, and smokes a pipe."When he gets going," said an other reporter, "he talks a lot." He hasa small, white, almost invisible mustache.

For Universal, Karloff next appeared in a totally different role I the ageless Im-Ho-Tep, THE MUMMY. Unlike Frankenstein's Monster, who never spoke, the eternal Egyptian had many lines of dialogue. A strange, commanding figure, with wrinkled parchment -like skin I and burning eyes, he was on the screen during most of the film, staring hypnotically into space, or performing ancient magical rites. Written by John Balderstone, author of the stage DRACULA, this eerie tale depicted the survival of an Egyptian prince, buried alive I for stealing a sacred scroll. Remaining undead through the centuries, he finally sees daylightagain when his ancient sarcophacus us is uncovered by an archaelogical expedition.

The expedition ends in tragedy when one of the scientists vanishes mysteriously. A mysterious Egyptian, Ardath Bey, appears and offers toguide a new expedition to the lost tomb of an ancient princess. He is none other than Im-Ho-Tep, freed of his mum my wrappings, alive and possessed of the magical knowledge of lost ages. When THE MUMMY of the princess is found, Im-Ho-Tep tries to restore her to life by magic, but he fails because her soul has been reincarnated in the body of aliving woman of Egyptian descent, Helen Grosvenor -Zita Johann-. Having loved the princess while she lived, he is now determined that she shall share his fate, remaining alive forever. But first, she must die . . .to live again.

From then on, it becomes a constant battle between Im-Ho-Tep and the scientists and friends of Helen. Chief opponents to THE MUMMY are David Manners and Edward Van Sloan -repeating his famous characterization of a psychic detective seen in DRACUIA-. Im-Ho-Tep seems to be winning at every turn. However, in the end he is destroyed by the greater power of the goddess Isis, in answer to Helen's prayer.

Like FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA, THE MUMMY was first of a series, but the second picture was not made until 1940 - THE MUMMY'S HAND-. Although it showed flash backs from the original version, the story was changed radically. Tom Tyler, ex-cowboy star, played the title role, but, unlike Karloff, he didn't speak. The subsequent Mummy films imitated the Tyler version, but Karloff was not in any of them. Karloff showed a vastly different type of acting talent from that of FRANKENSTEIN. Smooth, sinister, mysterious, he glared at the audience with incredible eyes, muttering occult words of power. This second style of leading role was to prove more typical of his overall career.

That same year, 1932, he made four more films. Two were comparativelyordinary crime stories, the third one was more important, and marked a still more radical change. It was the role of the sinister oriental, Dr. Fu Manchu in THE MASK OF FU MANCHU, made by MGM. Needless to say, it was a grand terror movie with Karloff in very top form. Sax Rohmer's stories have been brought to the screen on many occasions and were the basis of a TV series, but this was the only time Karloff played the evil Chinese genius.

His make up for the part was remarkable. Owing to the fact that, unlike FRANKENSTEIN, this picture required him to speak, the standard make-up tricks of the time couldn't be used. Consequently, the job was much harder. Finally,it was decided that he wear thin shell teeth over his own, specially built shoes to raise his height to six feet and nine inches, and two small celluloid clips to slant his eyebrows. The usual method for slanting eye brows was to use a strip of thin membrane,attached to the skin and painted, but Karloff felt this would hinder the movements of his facial muscles. The film's script required him to inflict a variety of tortures on his helpless victims.

At one point, he injected a mixture of rattle snake venom and tarantula poison into a boy's arm, thusen slaving his will. In the cast were Karen Morley, Myrna Loy, Lewis Stone and Jean Hersholt. The last two were to become famous in the roles of Judge Hardy and Dr. Christian.

In 1935 Karloff was busy playing the horribly scarred criminal Bateman in Universal's THE RAVEN with Lugosi once again. And also the same year he went into the role that movie goers long awaited: it was the return to the screen of Dr. Frankenstein's creation in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN -which many consider to be the best of the Universal series-.

This time there was no doubt in viewers minds who played the monster.Assisting in the cast were Colin Clive repeating as Dr. Frankenstein, Valerie Hobson as his wife, and Ernest Thesiger as a new character the sinister Dr. Pretorius. But the real surprise of the film was Elsa Lanchester -Mrs. Charles Laughton- as the monsters newly created mate. In THE RAVEN, Bela Lugosi was the real star as Dr. Vollin. A famous surgeon, he was obsessed by torture and death, and admired the works of Edgar Allan Poe. -Like THE BLACK CAT, this picture was based on ideas in stories by Poe.-

When Karloff, an escaped murderer, comes to him to have his face changed, he sees an opportunity. Operating, Vollin mutilates Bateman -Karloff- horribly, then forces him to help in his mad scheme for revenge against a girl who wouldn't marry him. In return, he promises to give Bateman a new face. But Karloff defies the order of the madman, and it is Dr. Vollin instead who gets horribly killed. He is trapped in his own device, a room whose walls slowly close in to crush the luckless victim. Boris dies, too shot by the doctor. THE INVISIBLE RAY, in 1936, marked one of Karloff's oddest roles a radio-activeman, killing with his mere touch.

This Universal production, a clever mixture of science fiction and horror, again co-starred Lugosi. This time he played a good character, Dr. Benet, while Karloff was the evil one Dr. Janos Rukh. From a strange opening, in Rukh's labratory and observatory, the locale moved to Africa in search of a strange element - "Radium X"- from outer space. Its fall to earth in a meteor is seen in an amazing device of Dr. Rukh's a kind of television that seeks into the past. Rukh finds the element, but becomes contaminated. He is now walking death; he glows in the dark, and anything he touches dies. Dr. Benet manages to cure him, and they return to Paris. But Rukh, driven insane by contact with the element, thinks his discovery has been stolen, and determines to take revenge.

He refuses to take the antidote,and as his terrible powers return he sets out to kill all the members of the African expedition. But he must take the antidote again at intervals, otherwise the radiation will get out of control. When he is about to complete his plans, his aged mother -Violet Kemble Cooper- strikes the vial of antidote from his hands, destroying it. "It's better this way," cries Rukh, and leaps from a roof. But the radiationis too strong, and in a bright flare his body is turned to ashes before it touches the ground. Also that year, he went to England again to star in two more horror tales: JUGGERNAUT and THE MAN WHO LIVED AGAIN. In bothhe played doctors, slightly mad as usual.

JUGGERNAUT's Dr. Sartorius poisoned himself when his crimes were discovered,then delivered a lecture on his dying symptoms. Dr. Laurience,in THE MAN WHO LIVED AGAIN, swapped souls with his rival in the affections of a girl. Back in America, when Warner Brothers wanted to make THE WALKING DEAD, they knew whom to use in the leading role. They brought him back from the dead through science, and he proceeded to revengehimself on the men who put him in the grave by scaring them to death! THE INVISIBLE MENACE . . . THE BLACK ROOM . . . CHARLIE CHANAT THE OPERA . . . these are some of the titles of other Karloffian epics that come floating up from the gray mist of the past.

When 1938 audiences saw the opening of TOWER OF LONDON, they were treated to the sight of a bald Karloff, grinning evily as he sharpened a huge axe. He was playing Mord, the club-footed executioner and torturer of the Tower. This Universal production -also starring Basil Rathbone- was an historical drama with horrific overtones, telling the story of the evil King Richard III of England. Modern audiences have seen a version of this tale, from Shakespeare's play, with Laurence Olivier. Karloff and Rathbone co-starred in another film that year, with the same director, Rowland V. Lee.

This was SON OF FRANKENSTEIN, the most elaborate of the series. It was the last time Boris ever played the monster, though he reappeared in two subsequent FRANKENSTEIN pictures. Besides the two stars, there was Bela Lugosi to grin fiendishly as the broken-necked Ygor, a character new to the series. And Lionel Atwill as Inspector Krogh, with a false arm as a memento of his last encounter withthe monster. Baron Wolf von Frankstein comes with his wife and young son to live at the ancestral castle. It has been abandoned for many years, ever since his father's disastrous attempts to create life. There he meets Ygor, who had been hanged for grave robbing, but continued to live with a broken neck.

Ygor reveals the amazing fact that the Monster still lives, but is unconscious. Von Frankenstein -Rathbone- determines to bring it back to life, and complete his father's unsuccessful experiment. Aided by Ygor, he does. But Ygor begins using the monster to murder the members of the jury that convicted him years before. Learning of this, Von Frankenstein confronts him, they struggle, and Ygor is killed. Finding the body, the monster kidnaps von Frankenstein's son and is about to kill him, when the Baron arrives and tumbles him into a pit of boiling sulphur. All is serene- until the next time.

Boris returned from the grave once more. This was the first of a series of pictures with similar themes and titles, all directed for Columbia by Nick Grinde and written by Karl Brown. They are included in the SHOCK movie series appearing around different areas of the country on TV. Doctor Henry k Savaard -Karloff, who else?- has been experimenting with restoring the dead to life. He develops a mechanical heart for this purpose, and decides to test it with a volunteer. But the stupid police break in during the experiment, and not being horror movie fans refuse to believe Savard when he explains that he killed the fellow only so he could bring him back to life. The judge is equally unscientific, and the poor Doctor is hung. But all is not lost, his assistant gets hold of his body and bringsit to life again. However, the reanimated scientist is a homicidal manic bent on revenge. He disposes of six members of the jury that hung him before the police interfere again. At the very last, he uses his machine to restore his accidentally killed daughter to life. Then he destroys it, and keels over himself.

1940 saw a repetition of the formula in BEFORE I HANG; and for another 1940 chiller, Boris returned to Universal to co-star with Lugosi for thefifth time. The picture was BLACK FRIDAY, with a complicated plot concerning gangsters, brain surgery, and hidden loot. It was written by Kurt Siodmak, author of DONOVAN'S BRAIN and of scripts for many more horror flickers.

In 1940 Karloff returned to his first love, the stage. The play was Joseph Kesselring's ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, a clever mixture of comedy and terror. It opened in New York in January of '41, and was a huge success. Karloff's part fitted him like a glove, since he played an escaped maniac who had been made to look like a movie by plastic surgery. The star he looked like was, of course, Boris Karloff! Peter Lorre addedto the giggles and chills as the doctor. It was filmed in '44, with Raymond Massey in the Karloff part.

Although he was a well known star, he was still nervous about appearing on Broadway. "I was scared stiff about how they'd like me," he said. "After all, I was just a provincial actor. I'd never played New York. And I certainly wasn't going to use my screen reputation." He loved being back on a stage again. 'An audience is wonderful after a cold camera." But he had no intention of quitting the movies.

Although he denied being especially superstitious, Karloff carried a 1928 silver dollar constantly, during the run of the play. He'd gotten it several years before in Hollywood, when he was courting Mrs. Karloff." You wouldn't find me playing without it," he said. He'd lost it once, when someone paid a news dealer with it, but a quiet search of neighboring newstands enabled him to reclaim it. He was also careful, in having a publicity photo taken, only to seem to be standing under a ladder. As proof that such beliefs were not groundless, he reported that a black cat he'd posed with had clawed a piece out of his suit. At the rehearsals, Karloff was surprised that the last line of the play was actually spoken on stage. That would never have been allowed in his old stock company days. It was considered bad luck.

When THE DEVIL COMMANDS his servant, Karloff must obey and he did, in '41, in the Columbia picture of that name. He tries to con tacthis dead wife-through a strange machine of his own devising, but his experiments all back fire, and at the end his machine explodes just as an angry mob storms his house. He tried comedy that year and the following,in YOU'LL FIND OUT and THE BOOGIE MAN WILL GET YOU, playing menaces with comic overtones. Peter Lorre co-starred in the latter. THE CLIMAX followed in '44, and was a straight role, quite similar to THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA which had just been remade with Claude Raines.

'44 was also the year that found Mr. K. in one of the finest films of his career, THE BODY SNATCHER. This was one of the group of pictures made for RKO by the late and great Val Lewton, which brought new life to the"horror" field. -Another was THE CAT PEOPLE, considered a terror classic.- SNATCHER was based on the story by the same name by Robert Louis Stevenson. Set in Scotland in the 19th Century this tale told of a medical manunable to obtain bodies for medical research due to the ignorance of the time. He is forced to cooperate with the cold blooded Gray -Karloff- who steals newly buried corpses from their graves.

He had formerly worked for the infamous team of Burke and Hare, of whom the following rhyme was written and chanted in the streets: Up the close an' down the stair But an' benwi' Burke an' Hare; Burke's the butcher, Hare's the thief, An' Knox the boy who buys the beef. The Knox referred to was a doctor to whom they sold the cadavers. Finding corpses in short supply, Gray decides to provide a few, and does so, unknown to the doctor -Henry Daniell-. A servant -Lugosi- finds out about his racket and wants to be cut in. Karloff obligingly demonstrates his technique, but Lugosi doesn't survive the demonstration he is strangled.

The doctor finally discovers what Gray has been doing and kills him. In a horrifying climax, the corpse of an old woman seems to turn into thatof Gray, and menaces the doctor. The doctor's wagon careens off the road, and the terrified doctor joins Gray into oblivion. -The Burke and Hare story has just been done again, in England, by the makers of JACK THE RIPPER. Peter Cushing stars as Dr. Knox.- 1945 rolled along, and Karloff returned to the Frankenstein series, which had brought him his initial fame. The film was an all-star cast throughout and called THE HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN. Since Karloff had stepped out of the series, two more films had been made, with Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi as the monster. In his return, Karloff didn't play this part, but that of a mad doctor. A hither to unknown actor named Glenn Strange played the role of the doctor's creature. He put in only a comparatively short appearance toward the film's end.

Imprisoned for experiments similar to those of Dr. Frankenstein,Dr. Gustav Niemann -Karloff- manages to escape during a thunderstorm, He takes with him another prisoner, the hunch back Daniel -J. Carrol Naish-.They join the travelling horror show of Professor Bruno Lampini -George Zucco-. Daniel murders Lampini and Niemann impersonates him, planning revenge on all those who imprisoned him. One of the exhibits in the show is the skeleton of Count Dracula with a stake through the heart.

Niemann removes the stake and the Count -John Carradine- returns tolife. He agrees to help Niemann gain revenge. Proceeding in this, he kills one man and very nearly gets away, but is pursued by the police. Niemann and Daniel abandon him and escape themselves. Trying to get back into his coffin before daylight, Dracula fails and is destroyed by the rays of the rising sun. Now Niemann proceeds to the ruins of the Frankenstein, castle and laboratory.He hopes to rediscover Frankenstein,'s lost secrets and combine them withhis own techniques. There he discovers the Monster and the Wolf Man, frozen in the ice. He brings the Wolf Man -Lon Chaney- to life by thawing himout, but the Monster will require the use of a special apparatus to revive him. They proceed to Niemann's old laboratory, along with a gypsy girl they have befriended -Elena Verdugo-.

The doctor continues with his plans, as the Wolf Man kills one of the people of the nearby village. The villagers form a posse to hunt for the werewolf. Meanwhile the Wolf Man and the gypsy girl have fallen in love. She kills him with a silver bullet as he leaps at her, ending his torment, then dies herself. Doctor Niemann revives the Monster, but the villagers see the lights in his reopened laboratory and go to investigate. The Monster picks up Doctor Niemann and drags him away. As the villagers follow, both sink into a swamp and do not rise.

After HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN, Karloff went back to RKO to do THE ISLE OF THE DEAD for Lewton. He played a comparatively straight part, as a militaryman, marooned on an island by a deadly plague. The horror supplied by a dead woman, who wasn't really dead. The woman slowly "comes to life" in a spellbinding sequence. In BEDLAM, made the following year for the same studio, he was back in his usual fiendish form. As Master Sims, he conspires to have a young woman put in the notorious asylum, where he reigns supreme, terrorizing the helpless patients. In an eerie climax, they seize him and hold a "trial." He meets death at the hands of one of them.

Horror pictures were now on the decline, and Karloff played some partsin more routine films, including UNCONQUERED. In 1949 he played opposite Abbott and Costello. In this one, Universal's ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER, Karloff was listed as a star, but only had a small part. The two comics were investigating a series of murders, and met Karloff in the course of their inquiries. He played Swami Talpur, a fake fortune teller from Brooklyn. There was the expected mixture of melodrama and high-jinks. Two years later Karloff returned to the fold with a horror picture, THE STRANGE DOOR. Having demonstrated his versatility, Karloff began appearing on stage and screen in a variety of roles. In '47 he played a villain in RKO 's non-horror THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY -starring Danny Kaye-, "Grue some" in the same company's DICK TRACY MEETS GRUESOME, and an Indian chief in Cecil B. De Mille's frontier spectacle, UNCONQUERED, which starred Paulette Goddard and Garry Cooper.

In 1948 he returned to Broadway to play in J. B. Priestley's THE LINDEN TREE, and played an Indian again opposite Susan Hayward on the screen in TAP ROOTS -Universal-. The following year it was back to the stage again in the U.S. production of THE SHOP AT SLY CORNER, a successful British thrilller. He was a kindly shop keeper with murder in his heart. That same year he got his name into the title of a picture -ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE KILLER-, at least in some parts of the country. His next theatrical part was a definite hit. and a new departure for him the role of Captain Hook in PETER PAN. Jean Arthur played the title role in this new production of J. M. Barrie's children's classic, which had music by no less a figure than Leonard Bernstein.

It ran for 321 successful performances. Karloff was delightfully wicked as the one-handed pirate captain, alternately threatening Peter and the children, and quaking in terror before the approach of his nemesis, the crocodile. He also surprised his fans by singing. Actually, a little-known facet of Mr. K's talent is his singing and dancing ability. He has done routines of this type several times during his career.

That year -1950- marked a new phase for him; that of a childrens' entertainer. Not only did he play Hook, but also served as narrator for the Czech puppet film THE EMPEROR'S NIGHTINGALE, based on Andersen's fairy-tale. The voice that had snarled and threatened proved equally at home telling stories to the little ones. More recently, he has recorded Kipling's "Jungle Book" and "Just So Stories" for children, as well as Mother Goose. But perhaps his new role isn't too far removed from the old. As he says, "There is more horror and violence in nursery rhymes thanin TV or films. Forget ' Frankenstein'. Take 'A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go'. By golly, a cat kills a mouse and a rat, and a frog is eaten by a duck. Awfully cruel and savage. As for Grimm's Fairy Tales . . . well, for heaven's sake!" But he adds, reassuringly, "We were all brought up on fairy tales and none of us have turned out to be monsters except maybe me."

His next stage role was in George Bernard Shaw's DON JUAN IN HELL. He played the part of a statue in the British company, in the same role done on Broadway by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Then, just for the sakeof variety, it was off to India to film SABAKA, where he was a Hindu chief.-The film was released here in '55. - But even stranger was his appearance in an Italian film - never shown in the U.S. -, called IL MOSTRO DELL'ISOLA. The title can be translated as THE MONSTER OF THE ISLAND, and we canonly assume that Boris played the title role. The film would be worth showing in America, if only for the odd sight of Karloff apparently speaking Italian! It was later that same year, however, that American audiences saw and heardhim again, in a fine part in a distinguished play: Lillian Hellman's adaptation of Jean Anouilh's THE LARK. He was superb as The Bishop of Beauvais opposite Julie Harris as Joan of Arc, and added fresh praise to the acclaim he'd received in the past.

THE BLACK CASTLE, made in '52, featured Richard -Robin Hood- Greene,as well as Karloff. In 1953 Mr. K. became the 7th actor incinema history to portray a famous dual role in ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEETDR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE. Based on Steven son's horror classic, this was the first comedy version ever made. Secret doors, weird serums, and chases up the sides of buildings were involved. Not only did Karloff turn into a monster, but so did Costello. The chubby comic became a huge mouse as well as a creature with a contagious bite.

When 1956 arrived, Karloff began work on the United Artists release, VOODOO ISLAND. In this he appears as an investigator of the strange andunusual. Seeking to learn the reason why several men have become silent zombie-like creatures, he soon became involved with some man eating plants and a lost tribe. Made in England and released here by MGM, Boris did THE HAUNTED STRANGLER, a period piece set around the turn of the century. Boris investigates a series of murders, only to find he had committed them himself when the -Hyde-like side of his personality emerged.

In '57, he repeated his performance for a nation wide audience via television. He has appeared before the electronic eye onmany other occasions, in guest appearances with Dinah Shore and on numerousd ramatic shows. He has also had his own series, COLONEL MARCH OF SCOTLAND YARD, and was announced for a never-shown series called THE VEIL. This was based, like THE BODY SNATCHER, on a Robert Louis Stevenson story. Cover Page Index