Boris Karloff (English, 1887-1969)

Karloff was widely known as a horror actor, including his career-defining portrayal of Frankenstein’s monster in multiple films. Karloff also narrated the animated 1966 How the Grinch Stole Christmas and acted in other famous films such as The Body Snatcher, The Mummy, and The Raven. Ernest A. Bachrach’s photograph Horror Man captures the eeriness of Karloff’s presence from his role in The Body Snatcher, a 1945 film where Karloff’s character robs graves and later commits murders to supply a doctor with bodies for his classes.  Bachrach plays on Karloff’s iconic status as a horror actor, focusing on his large shadow behind him, pained facial expression, and details of his hands clutching what looks to be a body in a sheet.

Born William Henry Pratt into an Anglo-Indian family, Karloff would act in 174 films. He was born bow-legged, with a lisp and a stutter, but used this early experience to his advantage in his physical portrayals of tortured characters. Karloff attended King’s College London toward a career in the British Government’s Consular Service, but drifted to Canada and performed various odd jobs before picking up roles in the stage and being discovered. He changed his name partially to avoid embarrassment to his family, respected members of the British Foreign Service, at a time when acting was not as respected as it is today.