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Dear Boris: The Life of William Henry Pratt a.k.a. Boris Karloff Paperback – July 1, 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Limelight Editions; 1st. Limelight Ed edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879101067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879101060
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.7 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Today, Boris Karloff is known principally for his portrayal of the Frankenstein monster and his narration of the television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas. He was, in fact, an amazingly talented actor whose characteristic lisp never kept him from playing a great variety of parts. Author Cynthia Lindsay was a personal friend of Karloff's for more than 30 years. As she tells the story of his life, she not only brings forth the consummate professional who felt that to act was to live but also describes Karloff as an extraordinarily warm and genteel man, the antithesis of the roles he is most famous for. A full filmography and hundreds of photographs are included in this loving biography.

From Library Journal

"This chatty biography, written with the cooperation of the late actor's family, is crammed with anecdotes, personal opinions, and warm humor," said our reviewer (LJ 2/15/76) of this portrait of the horror star, who played every baddie from Frankenstein's monster to Dr. Seuss's Grinch. The text is buttressed with 150 photos and a complete filmography. This should still be "popular in public library collections."
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jremingt@pendleton.k12.or.us on June 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
William Henry Pratt aka Boris Karloff was perhaps one of the most underated and illused actors in film history. Cynthia Lyndsay's book provides a most personal and loving journey into this gentleman's life. Included too in her portrait is a concise history of acting in the early 20th century as well as a detailed portrait of the actor's craft. Karloff was the consumate professional on stage and screen and off. This book is highly reccomended for any interested in the craft of acting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M2 on January 12, 2013
Format: Paperback
Many books have been written about Boris Karloff, some perfunctory, some exhaustive, but probably none can match Cynthia Lindsay's "Dear Boris" in terms of presenting the iconic actor as a human being. Lindsay was a longtime friend of Karloff's, which gives her special insight into him, but she has also done a great deal of research into his life, which was not easy, since he obscured so much of his personal history for still enigmatic reasons. Karloff was the youngest son of a rather harsh Anglo-Indian family, and was expected to follow in the "family business" of diplomacy, but instead went rogue and became an actor. He struggled for decades until achieving stardom in "Frankenstein," but never let that stardom go to his head. Yet he remained a somewhat mysterious figure, never revealing too much about himself, and blithely sailing through any attempts at biography in his lifetime with a ready wit and a host of prepared stories. In real life a kind and gentle man, as opposed to his roles, he was nonetheless a tartar when it came to fighting for his own and fellow actors' rights, having helped to establish the Screen Actors Guild, and remaining a driving force in the union for decades. Cynthia Lindsay creates a full picture of the man--at least as full as was possible, given his dedication to privacy--and "Dear Boris" remains an essential work for Karloff fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By john watson bruce on June 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What a wonderful caring,compassionate man,who cared deeply for his fellow actors.It didn't matter if they were stars or bit players he would defend them to the end.He cites his good fortune as "standing at the right corner at the right time". That might be a small part of it but he was a very talented actor.Not to forget his family and his marriages and the joy of his life his daughter Sarah[though their relationship became estranged because of divorcing her mom and his work load] and the monster who made Karloff a household name. It is a very enjoyable read you will like it written by a family friend and fellow actress.
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Format: Unknown Binding
It's rare that a 1975 book is still being published and available at B&N. However, this is a good book that essentially looks at the life of Boris Karloff through anecdotes, personal recollections from friends, associates, family, and the author herself.
While not a particularly critical book, this shows Karloff as a friend and an actor. While married several times, it looks primarily at his last marriage and offers little up as to the failure of his forth marriage which produced his only child Sara and their cordial but oddly distant relationship.
What appealed to me about the Karloff seen in this book was the kindly and generous man who was a good friend and liked by many people. The most telling thing was that children confronted by a threatening Karloff in full makeup could see through the facade and warmed up to him immediately.
This was an oddly charming recollection of a great horror film actor. I particularly liked the anecdotes about Boris.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Acute Observer on July 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
Cynthia Lindsay was born in Great Neck NY and moved to California for school. She worked as a swimmer, skater, actress, and author. She was in "Footlight Parade" (p.83). Boris Karloff was a close and beloved friend, his daughter is her godchild (p.ix). Boris was a passionate gardner. "Dear Boris" was what his friends called him. Researching Boris' life was difficult, family records were destroyed in the London Blitz. Boris migrated from England to Canada in 1909 at age 21, the records of this era are lost (p.xi). But she found sources from fans and Boris' widow. Boris kept working until he died, he never wanted to retire (p.175). He died in February 1969 and had a small private funeral (p.177).

William Henry Pratt was the youngest of a large family (p.2). A legacy allowed Boris to migrate to Canada (p.11). He worked as a laborer until he joined a stock company (p.15). He picked "Boris Karloff" as a stage name. After a few years with stock companies he went to Hollywood and worked as an extra (p.27). Boris kept his secrets (p.33). Little is known about his 2 or 3 marriages in the 1920s (p.37). Boris' part in "Frankenstein" made him famous (Chapter 10), he was a character actor for years. "Many children's fairy tales are far more frightening that `Frankenstein'" (p.64). Boris felt sorry for Bela Lugosi (p.71). [Two exclamation points represent rabbit tracks - page 75.] Cynthia tells how she met Boris, and about life in the 1930s. Boris was an early supporter of the Screen Actor's Guild (pp.90-97). Boris "sang" in "Charlie Chan at the Opera" (p.101).

The remaining chapters cover Boris' life on stage and on screen. He was liked by many but kept his secrets. His daughter Sara learned of his death from the news on TV (p.141). Boris appeared on TV shows in the 1950s.
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