I am talking with Sara Karloff, as we all know; she is the daughter of Hollywood legend Boris Karloff.
Hello Sara, it is so great to finally talk with you. Can you tell me about Karloff Enterprises?
In 1993 I was invited along with Bela Lugosi Jr., Ron Chaney and Dwight Frye Jr. to attend a convention in Crystal City MD to celebrate the republication of Famous Monsters of Filmland Magazine. It was at that time I learned of the intense interest of the fans in my father’s career and the continuing influence the magazine had on this fan base.
It was the first time I had ever met Bela Jr., Ron Chaney and Dwight Frye Jr. Bela and Ron had been actively involved in the protection and perpetuation of their famous family members’ legacy. Up until that time I had not really been involved with that. I had, of course, always been very proud of my father and his contribution to Hollywood’s film history; but that convention made me acutely aware of the responsibility of the family to protect and continue the legacy each family had inherited.
The sole purpose of Karloff Enterprises is to protect and perpetuate the legacy both, personal and professional, that my father left to my two sons and myself, and more importantly, left to his fans.
Karloff Enterprises through the licensing process maintains a certain standard of excellence and propriety of which my father would have approved when his name and likeness is used on a product or in an ad. It is as simple as that.
As a child, what was it like to have a Father that was a Hollywood Icon?
Growing up, my father did not bring his work home. He was, as an individual, a modest, self effacing, and private human being. He did not think of himself as a “star,” nor did he conduct his life as one.
When Frankenstein was released,did your Father think that it would become such a success?
I wasn’t born when my father made either the original Frankenstein or The Bride, but I was born while he was making The Son of Frankenstein. However, I have read that no one expected, or rather everyone was amazed and delighted with the enormous box office success of the 1931 Frankenstein and its successor film, The Bride. My father was not even invited to the premiere of the original Frankenstein. That would indicate that no one anticipated its enormous success or that the Creature would be the Star.
Did you get to spend a lot of time on any of the sets with him?
I was fortunate enough to visit him on the sets of several films and to eventually take my two sons with me to visit him on several TV sets. Each time, it was a treat for all of us, my father included.
When my father was in “Peter Pan” on Broadway and also in the road company, he had me visit him for a week and let me watch the play from back stage, from the wings and from out front. At the end of the week he said to me: “I can tell that you don’t have the ‘fire in the belly’ that it takes. You paid more attention to Nana the dog, than you did to me.” and he was right. I never wanted to, nor could I have withstood, the rigors of being an actress.
I have been asked if I have ever wanted to be an actress. I have always answered a resounding “NO”!
However, I did an off-camera two line role in “Deader Country” as somebody’s shrewish wife, and with any luck at all it will hit the cutting room floor and not the theaters.
Out of all of your Father’s films, which one did you enjoy the most?
One of my favorite films is “Targets,” what brilliant casting… my father as an aging horror film star. Another is “A Comedy of Terrors” and, of course, “The Body Snatchers.”
What are your feelings towards today’s horror films and remakes of horror films?
I think it is fairly well known that I am a big woos when it comes to horror films. I leave the room during Murder She Wrote. The music builds and I am out of there!
So to ask me about today’s horror films is an oxymoron. But to remake a classic in any genre is without excuse in my book. To quote someone far smarter than I: “If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it!”
I have heard that your father is the SAG founder; tell me a little about that?
There were 10 original Founding Members of the Screen Actors Guild. It was certainly one of my father’s proudest works. It was very dangerous times putting one’s career in jeopardy. It was forming a Union in opposition to the all powerful studios. Jimmy and Lucille Gleason, James Cagney, the Morgan Brothers were among the founding members. My father’s card number was number 9.
Do you have any future projects in the works?
I have been fortunate enough to have Dark Horse Comics agree to republish my father’s 1960’s comic book series Boris Karloff’s Tales of Mystery in hardback format, hopefully in 4 volumes. I am very excited about this. Volume 1 is already out and Volume 2 will have an introduction by none other than Hugh Hefner, a long time Boris Karloff fan. Each volume will contain 4-5 of the original comic book publications. Volume 3’s Introduction will be by noted Director John Landis. I am so thrilled that Dark Horse agreed to republish my father’s 97 comic book issues for his fans to once again enjoy in hardback format from their archival publication division. Mike Richardson of Dark Horse is an absolute delight to work with and it is a dream come true for our family, as well as for worldwide Boris Karloff fans.
You asked me about what I would say to people starting out in the acting field… there is so much talent that never gets an audition and so many scripts that never get read… it’s heart breaking. My father was 44 years old when he made Frankenstein. It was his 81st film and no one had seen his first 80 films! Lon Chaney Sr. would have been offered the role had he not died of throat cancer and Bela Lugosi was offered the part next and turned it down and then my father happened to be spotted in the commissary by James Whale (the second pick for a director for the film) so if you have “the fire in the belly,” believe in luck and long shots, and in yourself, and can withstand more disappointments than successes, then “go for it”
My father thought he was the luckiest person in the world doing something he loved and then being paid for it!
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Sara Karloff for taking the time to talk with me today.
For more information please go to: www.karloff.com
Denise has freelanced in News and television production in Los Angeles and New York. She is popular with actors, actresses, directors, musicians and writers, because of her thoughtful, in-depth interviewing style. Contact Denise through NewsBlaze.