Dear Ms. Sara Karloff,
Please let me thank you for the fantastic website dedicated to your late father, the wonderful Boris Karloff, whose fan I’ve been all my life. I’m amazed to see that your site has been revamped – it is truly marvellous now ! Well, I’m Rena Schroeder (57), a teacher / translator from Marl, Germany. Since my childhood I’ve loved your father’s recordings of children’s stories which my English aunt – living near Oxford – had presented me with. And at that time I also started watching his marvellous movies on TV : “Frankenstein” and “The Mummy”. May I say that as a little girl I fell in love with Boris Karloff … ?
His beautiful spoken English was always very easy to understand for me as a German youngster. I loved his fascinating voice. Of course, I listened to his brilliant recordings of Rudyard Kipling’s “Just So Stories” and “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”. (Since I have had the DVD, we have watched it every Christmas !) Well, as a young girl I was sometimes asked why I was such a great Boris Karloff fan, since people kept mentioning to me he was typecast as Hollywood’s “professional horror man”. I proudly used to reply that they should listen to his lovely children’s recordings and the “Grinch”, if they wanted to know about the “real” Mr. Karloff. And, luckily, my English aunt also found several interviews and articles about him, revealing something about his private life as a gentleman and a lovely person. Plus – he gave his roles the “Karloff touch”. There was always something positive to be found in the characters he portrayed, even in his most sinister ones. They were never completely evil. Often they were both good and bad, victims of some horrific circumstances. With Boris Karloff’s sheer brilliance, charisma and pure magic he ennobled every film he appeared in. He had class, he had style. And he was truly unique.
When there were more and more of his movies on TV, I started to tape and collect them with a very early video recorder (since 1973). Hey, I could never stop watching those movies ! Unfortunately, here in Germany his films were dubbed into German – so, later on, I collected all those very precious VHS original versions in ENGLISH. Oh, how I preferred them !!! (Honestly speaking, I would have gladly listened to his voice reading from the telephone directory….). Sometimes I was also able to listen to his stories from the “Reader’s Digest”, broadcast on AFN (American Forces Network). Mr. Karloff’s films and recordings vastly improved my English. Later on I decided to become a teacher / translator. Older now and with more time, I find myself getting back to my collection again. The old VHS tapes are a bit dated now, so I’m currently buying Boris Karloff films on DVD, also more books about him / his movies etc.
Before I go on about his fabulous films, I would like to thank YOU, dear Sara, for your work, your dedication and your devotion to your father’s legacy ! On the internet, I heard you mentioning us fans being so important for his screen immortality. Please let me tell you that I do think it is YOU who does the best work for his everlasting memory, his lifetime achievement and his continuing status as a Hollywood icon !!! I t is a pleasure to hear you speak about him in such wonderful words – that he was such a lovely gentleman, kind, warm, erudite, humorous. That he was the antithesis of his “terror” roles. And then there’s Karloff Enterprises, there are the fantastic postal stamps etc etc etc, your work ! You honour your father and his legacy in so many ways. He would be immensely proud of you and what you’re doing for him.
It may interest you that I sometimes show my Karloff DVDs to my pupils, using English or German subtitles, but the kids tell me they understand him very well indeed. Apart from the fun of watching a fascinating, subtly done horror movie, without ghastly gore or brutality ! My personal top ten of Boris Karloff’s films : 1) Frankenstein (the immortal monster) 2) The Mummy (featuring the beloved Im-Ho-Tep) 3) Targets (wow, what a brilliant performance !) 4) Bride of Frankenstein (that marvellous creature again) 5) The Black Cat (Hjalmar Poelzig, simply fabulous) 6) The Body Snatchers (John Gray, a truly Shakespearian character) 7) The Black Room (twins, but “three” characters really, beautifully played) 8) The Walking Dead (so heart-breaking as John Ellman) 9) The Criminal Code (charismatic as Ned Galloway) 10) The Raven (a superb “grand master” Dr. Scarabus).
I’m so glad and grateful to you for all you keep doing for him via Karloff Enterprises, even occasionally meeting the fans ! Well, 41 years after Boris Karloff passed away, his characters are so ALIVE and we can still enjoy his films and recordings … My family and I often watch his movies : my husband and also our adult son, who is (sadly) physically handicapped and paralysed after a brain aneurysm, sitting in a wheelchair.
If your father had known that in the 21th century there would still be such a lot of DVDs and CDs with his immortal movies and recordings … his films all over TV stations … Blogathons on the internet / loads of information in the world wide web about him (e.g. the German “Boris Karloff” Wikipedia entry was awarded a “star” for brilliance) … etc etc etc …that he is still so deeply admired and truly loved … I think he would be overwhelmed and very happy indeed ! And as a Christian, I do believe that he is still around – somewhere up there in heaven. Hopefully someone will some day come up with a biographical film about him (starring Jeremy Irons of course !) plus maybe the idea of staging a musical about his amazing life and career – simply called “Karloff” … You never know how his persona – in his remarkable “afterlife” – might inspire artists !
He has truly “frightened his way into the hearts of the public”. And into my heart of course ! (Although, being his fan, I have never been afraid of any of his characters). May the Master of Horror … may the “household word” … may the Hollywood icon BORIS KARLOFF live forever ! Or, as my pupils would prefer to put it : Boris *rules* …
Oh my god, I could go on and on – and I apologise to you for this lengthy email. Once again : thank you, dear Sara, for everything you’re doing !!!
Love and best wishes from Germany,
~ Rena Schroeder
PS : I’m also emailing you a “fairytale” I have written.