Boris Karloff 1887-1969

William Henry Pratt

Born 23 November 1887 at Camberwell, London
Died 2 February 1969 Midhurst, Sussex

He was from of a large family and they moved in 1892 to Chase Green Avenue, Enfield. Subsequent he moved to Slades Hill, followed by 38 Uplands Park Road. He had seven brothers, a sister and a half-sister. Most of the brothers were in the civil service (and quite a bit older than him - the oldest having been born in 1865). Billy’s brother George was an actor for a time, using the stage name George Marlowe. He (George) also joined an amateur dramatics group – the Enfield Amateur Dramatic Society – acting, writing & producing. They staged one show a year at the Enfield Cricket Club.

Each Christmas, for two nights, a parish play, or pantomime, was produced and staged at St. Mary Magdalene’s Church Hall. Billy took to the stage for the first time (probably in December 1896) as the Demon King in a production of Cinderella.

“When I was nine I played the Demon King in Cinderella and it launched me on a long and happy life of being a monster.”

He attended Dr Starkey’s School, then Enfield Grammar, before going to Merchant Taylor’s in London. Following 3 years at Uppingham, in Rutland, he had a short stint at Kings College at the University of London. He emigrated to Canada in 1909 and worked as a manual labourer before finding work in the theatre. He made his way to Los Angeles and began appearing in pictures in 1919.

William Pratt in 1907

William Pratt with Alice

Boris Karloff

We welcomed Sara Karloff, Boris’ daughter, to St Mary Magdalene’s on Tuesday 9th October 2012, along with Stephen Jacobs, Boris Karloff’s biographer. Here is a record of that visit.

Boris Karloff
More Than a Monster

By Stephen Jacobs

Available from Amazon

Many thanks to Stephen Jacobs who supplied the information and picture of Boris Karloff.

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