I don’t think I will get much argument if I say that Boris Karloff was the greatest Frankenstein of them all. Although Peter Boyle was pretty good.
Karloff was a British actor that began stage work in Canada and then made his way to Hollywood. He made some silent films but had to maintain jobs such as ditch digger to survive. By 1931 Karloff was on his way with The Criminal Code (1931) and Five Star Final (1931), a film that was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Of course, the biggest role of all was that of the monster in Frankenstein (1931). Karloff was about 5 feet 11 inches. The costume that he work for this role had 4-inch platforms and weighed 8 pounds each. Karloff’s costume was designed by Jack Pierce and was copyrighted by Universal Studios making it harder for other studios to copy the success of Frankenstein. Oddly Lon Chaney Sr, father of Wolf Man Lon Chaney Jr. Was offer the role of the monster but died before the filming. It was then offered to Bela Lugosi who turned it down because he didn’t want to be covered by makeup.
A year later, Karloff played Imhotep in The Mummy (1932) and the starring role in The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932). He played non-horror genres as well such as being gunned down in a bowling alley in Scarface 1932 and a religious soldier in The Lost Patrol (1934).
However, it seems that horror was his thing. Karloff played in four Frankenstein movies, Frankenstein (1931), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son of Frankenstein (1939), that also featuring Bela Lugosi, House of Frankenstein (1944), and Frankenstein 1970 (1958) as the grandson of the original creator where he showed that the original Baron had given his own face to the monster.