I can’t believe it’s been forty years since Boris Karloff passed away, on February 2, in 1969. I was a teenager then and I remember hearing it on the news. I remember the newspaper obituaries, often illustrated with a picture of the Frankenstein Monster… as played by Glenn Strange. I’ve always felt privileged to have seen a few Boris Karloff movies in theaters when they came out, AIP films with Vincent Price and Peter Lorre like The Raven (1963) and The Comedy of Terrors (1964), and Peter Bogdanovich’s Targets (1968).
What strikes me — after all these years — is how brightly Boris Karloff’s star still shines. In his lifetime, Karloff was a popular character actor, a favorite movie villain, yet his work has endured and grown in stature. A handful of his best films are regarded now as genuine classics, and many of his lesser films enjoy cult status.
Few actors of his era are still celebrated, or even remembered anymore, yet Karloff’s name still resonates. It is still instantly recognizable and immediately associated with horror films. In the forty years that have gone by, Karloff’s films has been constantly available on video and DVD, his life and his work have been examined in books and documentaries and, of course, his association with the Frankenstein Monster is indelible, endlessly referenced, captured on stamps, sampled in advertising, accumulating into a genuine icon of the twentieth century.
In the summer of 1969, Famous Monsters of Filmland #56 was entirely devoted to Karloff. The tribute issue cover was painted by Basil Gogos.
A beautiful copy of the painting, sans overprinting, appears in the fabulous Famous Monsters Movie Art of Basil Gogos compiled by Kerry Gammill and J. David Spurlock.
Found in Famous Monsters No. 57, here’s a wonderful snapshot — taken in the New York offices of publisher James Warren — of editor Forry Ackerman and artist Basil Gogos back in 1969, posing with the original painting for the Karloff Tribute issue.
Boris Karloff’s IMDB page.