Boris Karloff – interviewed by Colin Edwards – CBC Radio – 1962 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Although he would be loathe to admit it, Boris Karloff was one of the most celebrated and recognized figures in the Horror genre of film. This interview with Karloff, as conducted by Colin Edwards for the CBC, goes to great lengths to decry the name of the genre, preferring rather to refer to it as a Thriller genre, because he felt the name suggested the genre was something it wasn’t.
He mentions this in his interview because his biggest fans when Frankenstein was released in 1931 were children – who saw him as a sympathetic, rather than grotesque figure and didn’t see anything particularly horrifying about Frankenstein in the first place. The kids, he felt, were on to something.
But deep-down, Karloff was an actor of many varied roles, very few of them he considered to be “Horror”, in fact many were comedies. He was also a successful actor on Broadway, did a considerable number of roles in Radio (and later television) and even had a children’s show on Radio in the early 1950s.
As many know, typecasting can be deadly – having your entire career pigeon-holed to one role or one character can do more harm than good to a serious actor (or serious artist in any medium if you get pegged for one thing). But Karloff was flexible and he transitioned very well into television with his own series, Thriller (a title he approved of) – and became a household name all the way up to the time of his death in 1969.
His name may not ring many bells with you, especially if your Film-going experience gets started ten or even twenty years ago – if you’re a film major in College it’s possible you will see Frankenstein as part of a History Of Film class – in that case you will have some idea of who Boris Karloff was. Suffice to say he was an important figure in early movies and was popular for a most of his life. So you might want to check him out.
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