It’s John Carradine’s Birthday — Watch “The Boogey Man” And Hear One Of The Most Distinctive Voices In Film History

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February 5, 2016 — John Carradine would work with Henry Fonda and John Ford on Grapes of Wrath; he would appear in Stagecoach, The Ten Commandments, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Drums Along the Mohawk. In fact, he made appearance in at least 225 films (and uncredited ones in many others, plus hundreds of television appearances), worked in numerous Shakespearean productions and fathered an acting dynasty. And yet, most people know him as a star of horror films.

Maybe because he was so good in them

John Carradine (born Richmond Reed Carradine) was born 110 years ago in New York City. He knew he wanted to be an actor by the time he was eleven years old; however his earliest film work was as a set designer. He had found his was into Cecil B. DeMille’s stock company, but the job didn’t take. “DeMille noticed the lack of Roman columns in my sketches, he explained. “I lasted two weeks.”

What DeMille did like was Carradine’s voice, a resonant, dark baritone. Carradine claimed “…the great Cecil B. DeMille saw an apparition – me – pass him by, reciting the gravedigger’s lines from ‘Hamlet,’ and he instructed me to report to him the following day.” He would eventually earn the nickname “The Voice.”

He worked in, and did voice work for many DeMille pictures before joining the John Ford company. It was there that he first gained significant recognition. Aside from his work in Stagecoach and the Grapes of Wrath, Carradine acted in 9 other Ford features. 

However, in most of these films he played supporting parts. It was in horror films that he played most of his leads. He starred as mad scientists, Dracula, Nazis, crazed doctors, zombie creators, killers, creatures, space monsters and assorted villains. Perhaps his best remembered role is as the serial killer in Bluebeard, which is a cult favorite.

He would father 5 children; four of his sons became actors: David (Maybe I’ll Come Home in the Spring, Kung Fu), Robert (Revenge of the Nerds), Keith (Lake City, Nashville ) and Bruce (Americana). Four of his grandchildren, including Martha Plimpton, (Raising HopeSmall Town Murder Songs) are actors as well.

For horror lovers: watch The Boogey Man and hear one of film’s most impressive voices.
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