Boris Karloff (November 23, 1887 - February 2, 1969), born William Henry Pratt, was a famous actor in horror films. Born in London and educated at the University of London, Karloff's first goal in life was to become a diplomat, but instead he fell into acting. In 1908, he travelled to Canada and the USA, changing his name to something more in keeping with his new vocation. He made several silent films, before appearing as the Monster in Frankenstein, 1931. From then on, Karloff was in dozens of films, many of them sub-par horror flicks. He is also well known for providing the voice to the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1965).
He departed from the horror genre only a few times, once in the 1934 film, The Lost Patrol, and a few times on stage - for example, as Captain Hook in Peter Pan (1951). In the 1968 film, Targets, he parodied his earlier career.
He was a cousin of Quentin Crisp.
In a time when it was considered unacceptable for public figures to be any nationality other than European, Karloff claimed Russian ancestry to explain his exotic looks. In fact, some of his ancestors were from India. His daughter Sara publicly denied any knowledge of Russian forebears.
After battling emphysema for a number of years, Boris Karloff died from its complications at his home in Midhurst, Sussex, England on February 2, 1969 at the age of 81. He was interred in the Mount Cemetery in Guildford, Surrey, England.