Boris Karloff was born William Henry Pratt on November 23, 1887 in London, England. His father worked for a chemical company and his mother was a housewife. Unfortunately, he was orphaned at a young age and raised by his older siblings.
In his youth, he studied at the Enfield Grammar School and Uppingham School. After graduating, he went on to study at the University of London. He decided to move to Canada in 1909 and changed his name to something more interesting, Boris Karloff.
He first got a job in a theater troupe called the Jeanne Russell Theater Co. He began moving throughout Canada, appearing in plays and working odd jobs to get by. When World War 1 started, he applied for military service, but was rejected due to his poor health.
After the rise of Hollywood and motion pictures, Karloff decided to move to California and began making silent films. His breakthrough film was 1931's "Frankenstein", directed by James Whale. In the film, he played a tall monster created from various human body parts. In 1932, he portrayed "The Mummy" in another role that extended his celebrity status.
In 1934, he starred in "The Lost Patrol", directed by John Ford. He continued to act in horror films such as 1935's "The Bride of Frankenstein" and 1939's "Son of Frankenstein". Two lesser known films that he participated in during the 30s were "The Black Cat" and "The Raven".
In 1941, he returned to the stage in the Broadway production of "Arsenic and Old Lace". He also played in "The Linden Tree", "The Lark", and "Peter Pan".
In 1963, he starred in "The Terror" to parody his own acting. In 1968, he starred in the film "Targets" as a retired horror actor. He also performed the voice acting for the Grinch in "How the Grinch Stole Christmas".
After his appearance in "Targets", Karloff retired to a small cottage in Bramshott, England. He eventually succumbed to pneumonia and died on February 2, 1969. Following his death, he was awarded with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.