9 facts about Boris Karloff that show he was more than a monster
Image: RKO Radio Pictures
Nobody expected him to become a star after being in ‘Frankenstein’
Karloff didn’t get billing in the movie’s promotion, and in the opening credits, a question mark was used to tell audiences who played Frankenstein’s monster. While this was assumed to be a promotional gimmick, Sara Karloff, Karloff’s daughter told BBC America that her father wasn’t even invited to the premiere of the movie!
He was one of the first members of the Screen Actors Guild
The union still exists today under the name SAG-AFTRA. It was started by six actors in March 1933 and within three months, it has a board of directors that included Karloff, as well as James and Lucile Webster Gleason, Claude King and Morgan Wallace.
He didn’t get a starring role in Hollywood until he was 43 years old
If you’ve always wanted to be a Hollywood star but haven’t succeeded just yet, don’t give up! Karloff wasn’t in Frankenstein until he was 43, and as noted before, nobody even thought the movie would launch his career.
He knew a lot abut fairy tales
In 1956, Karloff was a the celebrity contestant on The $64,000 Question and audiences learned he knew a lot about children’s fairy tales. He quit after winning the $32,000 level — apparently due to tax considerations, according to IMDb.
Image: Disney / Giphy
‘Frankenstein’ messed up his back
Karloff had to have three back surgeries after making the film and had chronic back pain the rest of his life. This was due not only to the scene in which he had to carry Colin Clive up stairs, but also because of the large, heavy brace he had to wear in the film, to give him that stiff look.
The spooky guys in Hollywood all got along
Though there were always rumors that he and Bela Lugosi had a rivalry, that actually was not true. They were quite friendly. In fact, had Lugosi not turned down the role as the Monster in Frankenstein, Karloff may not have reached the star status he did. Christopher Lee (Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Wicker Man) was also Karloff’s neighbor for many years!