15 July 2024

Yes, it may well seem John Carradine appeared in nearly every other genre outing from the mid 1930s to the mid 1980s. And yes, to this day he remains (rather undisputedly) the King of All Things Grade 'B.'

It's also true that on many occasions his oft-hammy bravura teetered dangerously close to kabuki terror. But in the end analysis, Carradine was an ultra hardworking character actor who brought an indomitable spirit to the horror spectrum: shlock, gems and everything in between.

Born Richmond Reed Carradine in New York City on February 5, 1906, the future actor first studied painting and sculpture at NY's Graphic Arts School before landing his stage debut in a 1926 production of Camille.

Carradine moved to Hollywood in the late '20s and found early work as a set designer for Cecil B. Demille. His uncredited film debut came with 1930's Bright Lights.

Although he worked throughout the early '30s - variably billed as either 'Peter Richmond' or 'John Peter Richmond,' his nascent horror work included uncredited parts in 1933's classic The Invisible Man and 1934's The Black Cat. He officially changed his name to John Carradine in 1935.

The 1940s got off to a great start for Carradine when he hooked the role of Casy in John Ford's celebrated The Grapes of Wrath (1940); the rest of the decade saw Carradine work steadily in a gaggle of horrors including several Universal terrors such as House of Frankenstein (1944) and House of Dracula (1945).

The next two decades gave Carradine work in nearly five dozen features, a healthy combination of straight roles mixed with horror. Various high (and low) lights include 1967's Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors and 1969's Blood of Dracula's Castle.

Carradine appeared in a horde of enjoyable late nite horrors from the 1970s including Legacy of Blood (1971) and Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972), as well as 1977's weirdly creepy The Sentinel.

The king of cameos, Carradine also found his way into a handful of TV horrors throughout the '70s, such as 1973's The Cat Creature and 1976's Death at Love House.

The committed actor continued to work in the 1980s, garnering roles in The Monster Club (1980) and Joe Dante's The Howling (1981). In 1983, he joined forces with fellow kings of terror Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price in Pete Walker's House of the Long Shadows.

John Carradine's acting legacy continued through his three sons (David, Keith and Robert). Ever a familiar staple of low budget and drive-in horror fare, the deceptively versatile Carradine took his last bow in 1988. Long live that crazed old man.

The Bees 1978
Bigfoot 1970
The Black Cat 1934
Blood of the Man Beast 1965
Bluebeard 1944
The Cat Creature 1973
Crowhaven Farm 1970
Daughter of the Mind 1969
Dr. Terror's Gallery of Horrors 1967
Half Human 1957
House of Dracula 1945
House of Frankenstein 1944
House of the Long Shadows 1983
The Howling 1981
The Invisible Man 1933
Legacy of Blood 1971
Madame Death 1969
Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary 1975
The Monster Club 1980
The Mummy's Ghost 1944
Revenge of the Zombies 1943
The Sentinel 1977
Shock Waves 1977
Silent Night, Bloody Night 1974
Terror in the Wax Museum 1973
Voodoo Man 1944
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