Boris Karloff – MovieActors.com
About Boris Karloff (1887 – 1969)
William Henry Pratt (23 November 1887 – 2 February 1969), better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was born on 23 November 1887 at 36 Forest Hill Road, Camberwell, London, England. His parents were Edward John Pratt, Jr. and Eliza Sarah Millard. His maternal grandparents were James Millard and Eliza Julia Edwards, 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 may have had some Anglo-Indian ancestry.
Pratt spent his childhood years in Enfield, in the County of Middlesex. He was the youngest of nine children, and following his mother's death was brought up by his elder siblings. He received his early education at Enfield Grammar School, and later at the private schools of Uppingham School and Merchant Taylors' School. After this he attended King's College London where he took studies aimed at a career with the British Government's Consular Service. However, in 1909 he left university without graduating and drifted, departing England for Canada, where he worked as a farm laborer and did various odd itinerant jobs until happening into acting. His brother, Sir John Thomas Pratt, became a distinguished British diplomat.
He was bow-legged, had a lisp, and stuttered as a young boy. He conquered his stutter, but not his lisp, which was noticeable all through his following career.
In Canada he began appearing in theatrical performances, and it was during this period that he adopted the professional name of "Boris Karloff". Some have theorized that he took the stage name from a mad scientist character in the novel The Drums of Jeopardy called "Boris Karlov". However, the novel was not published until 1920, at least eight years after Karloff had been using the name on stage and in silent films (Warner Oland played "Boris Karlov" in a film version in 1931). Another possible influence was thought to be a character in the Edgar Rice Burroughs fantasy novel H. R. H. The Rider which features a "Prince Boris of Karlova", but as the novel was not published until 1915, the influence may be backward, that Burroughs saw Karloff in a play and adapted the name for the character. Karloff always claimed he chose the first name "Boris" because it sounded foreign and exotic, and that "Karloff" was a family name (from Karlov – in Cyrillic, Карлов – a name found in several Slavic countries, including Russia, Ukraine and Bulgaria). However, his daughter Sara Karloff publicly denied any knowledge of Slavic forebears, "Karloff" or otherwise. One reason for the name change was to prevent embarrassment to his family. Whether or not his brothers (all dignified members of the British foreign service) actually considered young William the "black sheep of the family" for having become an actor, Karloff apparently worried they felt that way. He did not reunite with his family until he returned to Britain to make The Ghoul (1933), extremely worried that his siblings would disapprove of his new, macabre claim to world fame. Instead, his brothers jostled for position around him and happily posed for publicity photographs. After the photo was taken, Karloff’s brothers immediately started asking about getting a copy of their own of it. The story of the photo became one of Karloff’s favorites.
Karloff joined the Jeanne Russell Company in 1911 and performed in towns like Kamloops, British Columbia, and Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. After the devastating tornado in Regina on 30 June 1912, Karloff and other performers helped with clean-up efforts. He later took a job as a railway baggage handler and joined the Harry St. Clair Co. that performed in Minot, North Dakota, for a year in an opera house above a hardware store.
Due to the years of difficult manual labour that Karloff had had to perform in Canada and the US to make ends meet whilst he was trying to establish his acting career, he was left with back problems from which he suffered for the rest of his life. Because of his health, he did not fight in the First World War.
Once Karloff arrived in Hollywood, he made dozens of silent films, but work was sporadic, and he often had to take up manual labour such as digging ditches or delivering construction plaster to earn a living. A number of his early major roles were in film serials, such as The Masked Rider (1919), in Chapter 2 of which he can be glimpsed onscreen for the first time, The Hope Diamond Mystery (1920) and King of the Wild (1930). In these early roles he was often cast as an exotic Arabian or Indian villain. A key film which brought Karloff recognition was The Criminal Code (1931), a prison drama in which he reprised a dramatic part he had played on stage. Another significant role in the autumn of 1931 saw Karloff play a key supporting part as an unethical newspaper reporter in Five Star Final, a film about tabloid journalism which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
His role as Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein (1931) made Karloff a star. The bulky costume with four inch platform boots made it an arduous role but the costume and extensive makeup produced the classic image. The costume was a job in itself for Karloff with the shoes weighing 11 pounds (5 kg) each. Universal Studios was quick to acquire ownership of the copyright to the makeup format for the Frankenstein monster that Jack P. Pierce had designed. A year later, Karloff played another iconic character, Imhotep in The Mummy. The Old Dark House (with Charles Laughton) and the starring role in The Mask of Fu Manchu quickly followed. These films all confirmed Karloff's new-found stardom.
The 5'11" brown-eyed Karloff played a wide variety of roles in other genres besides horror. He was memorably gunned down in a bowling alley in the 1932 film Scarface. He played a religious First World War soldier in the 1934 John Ford epic The Lost Patrol.
Horror had become Karloff's primary genre, and he gave a string of lauded performances in 1930s Universal horror films, including several with Bela Lugosi, his main rival as heir to Lon Chaney's status as the top horror film star. Karloff reprised the role of Frankenstein's monster in two other films, Bride of Frankenstein (1935) and Son of Frankenstein (1939), the latter also featuring Lugosi. Karloff revisited the Frankenstein mythos in several later films as well, taking the starring role of the villainous Dr. Niemann in House of Frankenstein (1944), in which the monster was played by Glenn Strange. He reprised the role of the "mad scientist" in 1958's Frankenstein 1970 as Baron Victor von Frankenstein II, the grandson of the original creator. The finale reveals that the crippled Baron has given his own face (i. e., Karloff's) to the monster.
Between 1938 and 1940, Karloff appeared in five films for Monogram Pictures. Directed by William Nigh, Karloff portrayed character James Lee Wong, a Chinese detective. More commonly referred to as Mr. Wong, Karloff's portrayal of the character is an example of Hollywood's use of yellowface and its portrayal of East Asians in the earlier half of the 20th century.
Karloff appeared at a celebrity baseball game as Frankenstein's monster in 1940, hitting a gag home run and making catcher Buster Keaton fall into an acrobatic dead faint as the monster stomped into home plate. Norman Z. McLeod filmed a sequence in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Karloff in the Frankenstein monster make-up, but it was deleted from the finished film. However, Karloff still appeared in that film in a brief but starring role as Dr. Hollingshead. Karloff donned the monster make-up for the last time in 1962 for a Halloween episode of the TV series Route 66.
While the long, creative partnership between Karloff and Bela Lugosi never led to a close friendship, it produced some of the actors' most revered and enduring productions, beginning with The Black Cat (1934). Follow-ups included Gift of Gab (1934), The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), Black Friday (1940), You'll Find Out (also 1940), and The Body Snatcher (1945). During this period, he also starred with Basil Rathbone in Tower of London (1939) as the murderous henchman of King Richard III.
From 1945 to 1946, he appeared in three films for RKO produced by Val Lewton: Isle of the Dead, The Body Snatcher, and Bedlam. In a 1946 interview with Louis Berg of the Los Angeles Times, Karloff discussed his three-picture deal with RKO, his reasons for leaving Universal Pictures and working with producer Lewton. Karloff left Universal because he thought the Frankenstein franchise had run its course. The last installment in which he appeared—House of Frankenstein—was what he called a "'monster clambake,' with everything thrown in—Frankenstein, Dracula, a hunchback, and a 'man-beast' that howled in the night. It was too much. Karloff thought it was ridiculous and said so." Berg continues, "Mr. Karloff has great love and respect for Mr. Lewton as the man who rescued him from the living dead and restored, so to speak, his soul."
During this period, Karloff was also a frequent guest on radio programmes, whether it was starring in Arch Oboler's Chicago-based Lights Out productions (most notably the episode "Cat Wife") or spoofing his horror image with Fred Allen or Jack Benny. In 1949, he was the host and star of Starring Boris Karloff, a radio and television anthology series for the ABC broadcasting network.
An enthusiastic performer, he returned to the Broadway stage in the original production of Arsenic and Old Lace in 1941, in which he played a homicidal gangster enraged to be frequently mistaken for Karloff. Although Frank Capra cast Raymond Massey in the 1944 film, which was shot in 1941, while Karloff was still appearing in the role on Broadway, Karloff reprised the role on television with Tony Randall and Tom Bosley in a 1962 production on the Hallmark Hall of Fame. Somewhat less successful was his work in J. B. Priestley's play The Linden Tree. He also appeared as Captain Hook in the play Peter Pan with Jean Arthur. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his work opposite Julie Harris in The Lark, by the French playwright Jean Anouilh, about Joan of Arc, which was reprised on Hallmark Hall of Fame.
In later years, he hosted and acted in a number of television series, most notably Thriller, Out Of This World, and The Veil, but the last of these was never actually broadcast, and only came to light in the 1990s. In the 1960s, Karloff appeared in several films for American International Pictures, including The Comedy of Terrors, The Raven, and The Terror, the latter two directed by Roger Corman, and Die, Monster, Die! He also starred in Michael Reeves's second feature film, The Sorcerers, in 1966.
During the 1950s, he appeared on British television in the series Colonel March of Scotland Yard, in which he portrayed John Dickson Carr's fictional detective Colonel March, who was known for solving apparently impossible crimes.
Karloff, along with H. V. Kaltenborn, was a regular panelist on the NBC game show, Who Said That?, which aired between 1948 and 1955. Later, as a guest on NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show, Karloff sang "Those Were the Good Old Days" from Damn Yankees, while Gisele MacKenzie performed the solo, "Give Me the Simple Life". On The Red Skelton Show, Karloff guest starred along with horror actor Vincent Price in a parody of Frankenstein, with Red Skelton as "Klem Kadiddle Monster." In 1966, Karloff also appeared with Robert Vaughn and Stefanie Powers in the spy series The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., in the episode "The Mother Muffin Affair," Karloff performed in drag as the titular character. That same year, he also played an Indian Maharajah on the installment of the adventure series The Wild Wild West titled "The Night of the Golden Cobra". In 1967, he played an eccentric Spanish professor who believes himself to be Don Quixote in a whimsical episode of I Spy titled "Mainly on the Plains."
In the mid-1960s, he gained a late-career surge of American popularity when he narrated the made-for-television animated film of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and also provided the voice of the Grinch, although the song "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" was sung by the American voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft. The film was first broadcast on CBS-TV in 1966. Karloff later received a Grammy Award for "Best Recording For Children" after the story was released as a record. Because Ravenscroft (who never met Karloff in the course of their work on the show) was uncredited for his contribution to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, his performance of the song was often mistakenly attributed to Karloff.
In 1968, he starred in Targets, a film directed by Peter Bogdanovich, featuring two separate stories that converge into one. In one, a disturbed young man kills his family, then embarks on a killing spree. In the other, a famous horror-film actor contemplates then confirms his retirement, agreeing to one last appearance at a drive-in cinema. Karloff starred as the retired horror film actor, Byron Orlok, a thinly disguised version of himself; Orlok was facing an end of life crisis, which he resolved through a confrontation with the gunman at the drive-in cinema.
In 1968, he played occult expert Professor Marsh in a British production titled The Crimson Cult (Curse of the Crimson Altar), which was the last Karloff film to be released during his lifetime.
He ended his career by appearing in four low-budget Mexican horror films: The Snake People, The Incredible Invasion, Fear Chamber, and House of Evil. This was a package deal with Mexican producer Luis Enrique Vergara. Karloff's scenes were directed by Jack Hill and shot back-to-back in Los Angeles in the spring of 1968. The films were then completed in Mexico. All four were released posthumously, with the last, The Incredible Invasion, not released until 1971, two years after Karloff's death.
Cauldron of Blood, shot in Spain in 1967 and co-starring Viveca Lindfors, was also released after Karloff's death.
While shooting his final films, Karloff had only one half of one lung and required oxygen between takes.
Beginning in 1940, Karloff dressed as Father Christmas every Christmas to hand out presents to physically disabled children in a Baltimore hospital.
Despite living and working in the United States for many years, he never became a naturalised American citizen and never legally changed his name to "Boris Karloff." He signed official documents "William H. Pratt, a.k.a. Boris Karloff."
He was a charter member of the Screen Actors Guild, and was especially outspoken regarding working conditions on sets that actors were expected to deal with in the mid-1930s, some of which were extremely hazardous. In 1931, Boris Karloff took out insurance against premature aging that might be caused by his fright make-up.
He married five times and had one child, daughter Sara Karloff, by his fourth wife. At the time of his daughter's birth he was filming Son of Frankenstein, and reportedly rushed from the film set to the hospital while still in full makeup. Little is otherwise known of Boris's private life.
His retirement was spent in England at his country cottage named Roundabout in the Hampshire village of Bramshott. He contracted pneumonia and died at the King Edward VII Hospital, Midhurst, in Sussex, on 2 February 1969 at the age of 81. His body was cremated following a requested modest 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.
During the run of Thriller, Karloff lent his name and likeness to a comic book for Gold Key Comics based upon the series. After Thriller was cancelled, the comic was retitled Boris Karloff's Tales of Mystery. An illustrated likeness of Karloff continued to introduce each issue of this publication for nearly a decade after the real Karloff died; the comic lasted until the early 1980s. Starting in 2009, Dark Horse Comics started to reprint Tales of Mystery in a hard bound archive.
For his contribution to film and television, Boris Karloff was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, at 1737 Vine Street for motion pictures, and 6664 Hollywood Boulevard for television.
Karloff was featured by the U.S. Postal Service as Frankenstein's Monster and the Mummy in its series "Classic Monster Movie Stamps" issued in September 1997.
In November 2014, Randy Bowser debuted his one-man play Karloff at the Level B Theater Pub in Salem, Oregon. Using material culled from five different Boris Karloff biographies and being granted the authorisation of daughter Sara Karloff (who attended the opening weekend of the show), Bowser crafted the play to be about more than Karloff as a monster film actor. He told the Statesman Journal, "You really don't have to be a Boris Karloff fan to enjoy the show. It's not a monster show; it's about a man."
Boris Karloff's movie credits include...
|1916||The Dumb Girl of Portici||Lois Weber|
|1918||The Lightning Raider||George B. Seitz|
|1919||The Masked Rider||Mexican roughneck in saloon (Ep. 2 only)|
|1919||His Majesty, the American||The Spy|
|1919||The Prince and Betty|
|1920||The Deadlier Sex||Jules Borney|
|1920||The Courage of Marge O'Doone||Tavish|
|1920||The Last of the Mohicans|
|1921||The Hope Diamond Mystery||Dakar / High Priest of Temple of Sita|
|1921||Without Benefit of Clergy||Ahmed Khan|
|1921||Cheated Hearts||Nil Horned|
|1921||The Cave Girl||Baptiste|
|1922||The Man from Downing Street||Edward Monckton / Maharajah Jehan Deharwar|
|1922||The Infidel||the Nabob|
|1922||The Altar Stairs||Hugo|
|1922||Omar the Tentmaker||the Holy Imam Mowaffak|
|1922||The Woman Conquers||Raoul Maris|
|1923||The Prisoner||Prince Kapolski|
|1924||Riders of the Plains|
|1924||Dynamite Dan||Tony Garcia|
|1925||Forbidden Cargo||Pietro Castillano|
|1925||The Prairie Wife||Diego|
|1925||Perils of the Wild|
|1925||Never the Twain Shall Meet||Villain|
|1926||The Greater Glory||the Scissors Grinder|
|1926||Her Honor, the Governor||Snipe Collins|
|1926||The Nickel-Hopper||Big Bohunk|
|1926||The Golden Web||Dave Sinclair|
|1926||The Eagle of the Sea||Pirate|
|1926||Old Ironsides||Saracen Guard|
|1926||The Man in the Saddle||Robber|
|1927||Tarzan and the Golden Lion||Ozawa, Waziri Chief|
|1927||Let It Rain||the Crooks|
|1927||The Meddlin' Stranger||Al Meggs|
|1927||The Princess from Hoboken||Pavel|
|1927||The Phantom Buster||Ramón|
|1927||Soft Cushions||The Chief Conspirator|
|1927||Two Arabian Knights||Purser|
|1927||The Love Mart||Fleming|
|1928||The Vanishing Rider||The Villain|
|1928||Burning the Wind||Pug Doran|
|1928||Vultures of the Sea||Grouchy|
|1928||The Little Wild Girl||Maurice Kent|
|1929||The Devil's Chaplain||Boris|
|1929||The Fatal Warning||Mullins|
|1929||The Phantom of the North||Jules Gregg|
|1929||Anne Against the World|
|1929||Behind That Curtain||Sudanese servant|
|1929||The King of the Kongo||Macklin / Martin|
|1929||The Unholy Night||Abdoul|
|1930||The Bad One||Guard|
|1930||The Sea Bat||Corsican|
|1930||The Utah Kid||Baxter|
|1930||The Mother's Cry||Baxter|
|1931||Sous les verrous ("Pardon Us" - French version)||The Tiger|
|1931||The Criminal Code||Ned Galloway|
|1931||King of the Wild||Mustapha|
|1931||Young Donovan's Kid||Cokey Joe|
|1931||Smart Money||Sport Williams|
|1931||The Public Defender||Professor|
|1931||I Like Your Nerve||Luigi|
|1931||Five Star Final||"Reverend" Vernon Isopod|
|1931||The Yellow Ticket||Orderly|
|1931||The Mad Genius||Fedor's Father|
|1931||The Guilty Generation||Tony Ricca|
|1931||Tonight or Never||The Waiter|
|1932||Behind the Mask||Jim Henderson|
|1932||Alias the Doctor||Autopsy Surgeon|
|1932||Business and Pleasure||Sheikh|
|1932||The Miracle Man||Nikko|
|1932||Night World||"Happy" MacDonald|
|1932||The Old Dark House||Morgan|
|1932||The Mask of Fu Manchu||Dr. Fu Manchu|
|1932||The Mummy||Imhotep/Ardath Bey|
|1933||The Ghoul||Prof. Morlant|
|1934||The Lost Patrol||Sanders|
|1934||The House of Rothschild||Count Ledrantz|
|1934||The Black Cat||Hjalmar Poelzig|
|1934||Gift of Gab||Cameo Appearance (as Karloff)|
|1935||Bride of Frankenstein||The Monster|
|1935||The Raven||Edmond Bateman|
|1935||The Black Room||Baron Gregor de Berghmann / Anton de Berghmann|
|1936||The Invisible Ray||Dr. Janos Rukh|
|1936||The Walking Dead||John Ellman|
|1936||The Man Who Changed His Mind||Dr. Laurence|
|1936||Charlie Chan at the Opera||Gravelle|
|1937||Night Key||Dave Mallory|
|1937||West of Shanghai||Gen. Wu Yen Fang|
|1938||The Invisible Menace||Mr. Jevries a.k.a. Dolman|
|1938||Mr. Wong, Detective||James Lee Wong|
|1939||Devil's Island||Dr. Charles Gaudet|
|1939||Son of Frankenstein||The Monster|
|1939||The Mystery of Mr. Wong||James Lee Wong|
|1939||Mr. Wong in Chinatown||James Lee Wong|
|1939||The Man They Could Not Hang||Dr. Henryk Savaard|
|1939||Tower of London||Mord the Executioner|
|1940||The Fatal Hour||James Lee Wong|
|1940||Black Friday||Dr. Ernest Sovac|
|1940||The Man with Nine Lives||Dr. Leon Kravaal|
|1940||Doomed to Die||James Lee Wong|
|1940||Before I Hang||Dr. John Garth|
|1940||The Ape||Dr. Bernard Adrian|
|1940||You'll Find Out||Judge Mainwaring|
|1941||The Devil Commands||Dr. Julian Blair|
|1942||The Boogie Man Will Get You||Prof. Nathaniel Billings|
|1944||The Climax||Dr. Hohner|
|1944||House of Frankenstein||Dr. Gustav Niemann|
|1945||The Body Snatcher||John Gray|
|1945||Isle of the Dead||Gen. Nikolas Pherides|
|1946||Bedlam||Master George Sims|
|1947||The Secret Life of Walter Mitty||Dr. Hugo Hollingshead|
|1947||Lured||Charles von Druten|
|1947||Unconquered||Guyasuta, Chief of the Senecas|
|1947||Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome||Gruesome|
|1948||The Emperor's Nightingale||Narrator|
|1949||Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff||Swami Talpur|
|1951||The Strange Door||Voltan|
|1952||Colonel March Investigates||Col. March|
|1952||The Black Castle||Dr. Meissen|
|1953||Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde||Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde|
|1954||The Hindu||General Pollegar|
|1957||Voodoo Island||Dr. Phillip Knight|
|1958||The Juggler of Our Lady||Narrator|
|1958||The Creation of the World||Narrator (USA)|
|1958||The Haunted Strangler||James Rankin|
|1958||Frankenstein 1970||Baron Victor von Frankenstein|
|1958||Corridors of Blood||Dr. Thomas Bolton|
|1963||The Terror||Baron Von Leppe|
|1963||The Raven||Dr. Scarabus|
|1964||Bikini Beach||Art dealer|
|1964||The Comedy of Terrors||Amos Hinchley|
|1965||Die, Monster, Die!|
|1965||(UK: Monster of Terror)||Nahum Witley|
|1966||The Daydreamer||The Rat|
|1966||The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini||The Corpse|
|1966||How the Grinch Stole Christmas!||The Grinch and the Narrator|
|1967||The Venetian Affair||Dr. Pierre Vaugiroud|
|1967||Mad Monster Party?||Baron Boris von Frankenstein|
|1967||The Sorcerers||Professor Marcus Montserrat|
|1968||Curse of the Crimson Altar||Prof. Marshe|
|1968||Fear Chamber||Dr. Carl Mandel|
|1968||House of Evil||Mathias Morteval|
|1970||Cauldron of Blood (El Coleccionista de cadáveres); aka Blind Man's Bluff||Franz Badulescu|
|1971||The Incredible Invasion||Prof. John Meyer|
|1971||Isle of the Snake People||Karl Van Molder / Damballah|
Memorable Quotes by Boris Karloff
“[on whether he resented being typed as a "horror star"] One always hears of actors complaining of being typed - if he's young, he's typed as a juvenile; if he's handsome, he's typed as a leading man. I was lucky. Whereas bootmakers have to spend millions to establish a trademark, I was handed a trademark free of charge. When an actor gets in a position to select his own roles, he's in big trouble, for he never knows what he can do best. I'm sure I'd be damn good as little Lord Fauntleroy, but who would pay ten cents to see it?”
“When I was nine, I played the demon king in "Cinderella" and it launched me on a long and happy life of being a monster.”
“My wife has good taste. She has seen very few of my movies.”
“You could heave a brick out of the window and hit ten actors who could play my parts. I just happened to be on the right corner at the right time.”
“[on his rival, Bela Lugosi] Poor old Bela, it was a strange thing. He was really a shy, sensitive, talented man who had a fine career on the classical stage in Europe, but he made a fatal mistake. He never took the trouble to learn our language. He had real problems with his speech and difficulty interpreting lines.”
“My leg in a steel brace... operating with only half a lung... why, it's a public scandal that I'm still around. But as long as the people want me, I feel an obligation to go on performing. After all, every time I act I provide employment for a fleet of doubles.”
Things You May Not Know About Boris Karloff
In contrast to the image he presented in most of his films, the private Karloff was, by every account, a quiet, bookish man off- screen. A true gentleman, he had many friends, both in and out of show business, and he was particularly fond of children. For the latter, among other things, he recorded many successful albums of children's stories.
When told by a mutual friend that Bobby Pickett, who recorded the hit song "Monster Mash", was a huge fan of his, Karloff replied, "Tell him I enjoy his record very much." Pickett still considers that the greatest compliment he has ever gotten, and Karloff eventually sang the song himself on a television special.
His first Broadway play was "Arsenic and Old Lace" in a role that was written for him. He played Jonathan Brewster, whose face has been changed by a disreputable plastic surgeon named Dr. Einstein so that he now looks like Boris Karloff. He also performed the role in the road company of this production.
When he traveled to England to shoot The Ghoul (1933), it was the first time in nearly 25 years that he returned to his home country and reunited with the surviving members of his family.
In the final years of his life, walking, and even just standing, became a painful ordeal. Some directors would change the script to place Karloff's character in a wheelchair, so that he would be more comfortable.
Was one of the founding members of the Screen Actors Guild. His daughter recounts that, due to the Hollywood studio chiefs' distrust of unions and their attempts to keep them from forming, he always carried a roll of dimes in his pocket. This was because he had to use pay phones when conducting union business, since he knew his home phone had been tapped.