Although Barcroft's birth name is usually given as Howard Clifford Ravenscroft, both the California Death Index and the 1910, 1920, and 1930 U.S. Census list him as Howard H. Ravenscroft.
Barcroft claimed that his favorite role was as the reincarnated pirate Captain Mephisto in the non-western Republic serial Manhunt of Mystery Island (1945). Also among his favorites were the serials The Purple Monster Strikes (1945) and Haunted Harbor (1944).
Barcroft patterned his screen persona after Harry Woods, one of the movies' greatest villains. He even tried to imitate Woods' voice. Barcroft's on-screen voice was different from the one he always used when in front of the camera. (Revealed by his friend Clayton Moore in his autobiography, "I Was That Masked Man")
Barcroft was such a fixture in low budget westerns that as soon as his face appeared on screen, every kid in the audience knew who the bad guy was. Of course, it took the good guy 60 minutes to figure it out.
Considerable confusion exists concerning Barcroft's birthplace. Most sources cite Weeping Water, Texas, USA, while others cite Crab Orchard Nebraska, USA. However, Weeping Water, Texas does not exist. But Weeping Water, Nebraska, is quite near Crab Orchard, Nebraska, and it is likely that Barcroft was born in Weeping Water, Nebraska, USA, and raised in nearby Crab Orchard, Nebraska.
During his years as a freelance, Barcroft became such an asset as the villian in low budget westerns that in 1943 Republic signed him to an exclusive ten year contract.
He had created such an indelible image as a western heavy that in the late 1960s, interviewers would express surprise at finding what a charming and friendly man he really was.