Bobby "Boris" Pickett was, of course, the man doing the Boris Karloff impression on the Halloween hit "Monster Mash" (basso voice: "Tell them Boris sent you..."), hence the middle nickname. Born Robert George Pickett in Somerville, MA, on September 11, 1938 -- the son of a movie theater manager -- Pickett spent an inordinate amount of time watching horror movies as a youngster. He moved to L.A. in 1961 following his discharge from the army, hoping to become an actor. Many pop-music aficionados may not realize that this dream did actualize; as a kind of crazy quirk, the overnight fame as a novelty act happened first and shaped Pickett's occasional acting turns.
Before he reached the silver screen, Pickett first honed a nightclub act that featured a prominent Karloff impersonation, then joined a singing group called the Cordials, and after perfecting his Karloff voice, used it on the deep-voiced spoken part of the seminal single "Little Darlin'" by the Diamonds. The success of that effort inspired Pickett to co-write "Monster Mash" with Cordials member Leonard Capizzi to take advantage of the Mashed Potato dance craze. (Leon Russell, Johnny McCrae, Rickie Page, and producer Gary Paxton comprised his backup band, the Crypt-Kickers). The novelty tune, of course, became a towering hit, reaching number one on October 20, 1962, and also charting on two subsequent occasions: August 1970 and May 1973.
Doubtless thanks to the success of this single, it laid the foundation for Pickett's occasional acting work in Z-grade exploitation and occasional horror fare. After a couple of turns on the rural sitcom Petticoat Junction and the Western series Gunsmoke, Pickett appeared in studio by-product such as It's a Bikini World (1967), The Deathmaster (1972), Return of the Living Dead Part II (1988), and Lobster Man from Mars (1989). In the mid-'90s, the single "Monster Mash," spawned a fairly horrendous, family-friendly Halloween musical, Monster Mash: The Movie (1995), starring Pickett (and Full House's Candace Cameron), as well as a cartoon based on the song four years after that. In 2004, Pickett provided a voice for the children's animated feature Spookley: The Square Pumpkin. "Monster Mash," of course, is ever-present on movie soundtracks.
Pickett died of leukemia on April 25, 2007. He was 69 years old.