You really can’t talk about classic horror without mentioning Boris Karloff. Actually, the real name of the English actor born in 1887 was William H. Pratt. Young Pratt was Anglo-Indian … his aunt was Anna Leonowens, the woman whose tales of the Siamese court were behind The King and I.
Pratt left England, where he worked as a farm laborer after dropping out from Kings College London (his brother, Sir John Henry Pratt, was far more successful in his studies), and headed for Canada. He embarked on a film career that alternated with stints as a railway baggage handler, cement truck driver and ditch digger. He gave up ditch digging for good when he hit pay dirt in horror films.
By then he’d become Boris Karloff, Hollywood star of Frankenstein, The Mummy, The Ghoul, The Black Cat, The Body Snatcher, The Raven, various Frankenstein spin-offs and more. No more ditches … but plenty of graves.
Hats off—heads off if you are a ghoul—to the big guy. Cheers, Boris-dahlink.
—Erin Orison, DEAD LOVE/The Daily Slice