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The Actor Who Popularized Frankenstein Also Played This Villain

There are few actors in the 20th century who were as iconic in the horror genre as the legendary Boris Karloff. The English thespian had already made a name for himself on stage and screen as a character actor, but his nearly silent, deeply sympathetic performance as the Monster in the 1931 horror classic "Frankenstein" is what officially made him a star.

The actor — often credited as simply "KARLOFF!" —  had a deep stentorian voice and imposing stare and appeared in Universal pictures like "The Black Cat," "The Old Dark House," and "The Mummy." But in private, Karloff was considered a kind and good-natured gentleman by those who knew him, even dressing as Father Christmas to give presents to disabled children every year (via The Vintage News).

Despite the range that made the "Frankenstein" Monster so powerful, Karloff was and will always be known for his villains, and he seemed to have accepted this, often playing sinister parts on television and film until his death in 1969. But of all his characters, this famous grouch is by far one of his finest later performances. Here's more about the rather grumpy villain Boris Karloff played at 79 years old. 

Boris Karloff was The Grinch in the 1966 animated special

In 1965, "Looney Tunes" animator Chuck Jones secured the blessing of Theodore Geisel — also known as Dr. Seuss — to make a television special out of his children's book "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (via the Emmys). Making the 26-minute film was grueling work, but eventually, the "Grinch" special was released in 1966.

Part of what made "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" so great was not just Jones' expressive animation or the famous "You're A Mean One, Mr. Grinch" song, but the performance of Boris Karloff. The actor both narrated the film and played the Grinch, his sinister and elegant voice bringing the character to surly life. Karloff conveys not only the sour attitude that makes the Grinch hate the Whoville residents but also the internal change that lets him finally join them at the end.

There have been full-length live-action and CGI adaptations of the Grinch story since, but the original special still airs every Christmas and has endured the passing of time. This longevity is in part thanks to Karloff's performance, which won the performer his only award throughout a long career: a children's recording Grammy (via The Hollywood Reporter).