Vincent Price was born on May 27, 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri and left us October 25, 1993. Price became synonymous with horror movies, but his career also spanned other genres including film noir, drama, mystery, thrillers and even comedy.
I adored him in the 1940 gothic tale of greed and murder in The House of Seven Gables. I laughed at him in the 60’s campy Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. When it came to terror, The Abominable Dr. Phibes was so creepy, it could scare a toupee into orbit! He even played the invisible man (The Invisible Man Returns), and had fun teaming up with Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff in the spoofy horror classic A Comedy of Terrors. His career also spanned stage and radio, and he made guest appearances on game shows, The Brady Bunch, The Carol Burnett show and many others. In short, Vincent Price loved life and it showed.
I had the pleasure of meeting “Vinnie” back in the 80’s. He was the guest on a mystery cruise to Bermuda. It was at the Captain’s cocktail party where Price gave his captive audience the lowdown on his participation on Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.
One day his agent came to him and told him Michael Jackson wanted him to do a maniacal laugh on his Thriller album. His agent advised Price against it. His agent told Price “it was just for the royalties and after all, how many albums could this Jackson guy really sell?” (duh). But this time Price decided to ignore his agent and took the contract for fun. He admitted he made so much money off the deal that it was staggering. He never did say if he fired his agent or not – but it made me wonder!
A charming and likeable guy – not at all like the villainous, horrifying characters he often played, Price was also known world-wide as an art critic (he established art scholarships for underprivileged children) and gourmet chef. It was not uncommon for Price after a movie set wrapped up, to invite guests to his house for an elaborate dinner that he prepared himself – even if it was midnight!
One of his quotes remains my personal favorite of all times: Man who limits his interests, limits his life. After reading several books on Vincent Price, he indeed, did live up to his quote. He was a well-loved man and lived a very well-rounded, diversified life.
To learn more about this incredibly generous and wonderful actor, check out the book Vincent Price Unmasked by James Robert Parish and Steven Whitney. This book gives you an overall look at his life from the very beginning throughout his very long career (he made over 100 films). It was thoroughly entertaining and I enjoyed learning little known facts about this amazing, elegant man and superb actor.
Another more detailed and personal look at Price’s life can be found in A Daughter’s Biography, by Victoria Price. It is extremely detailed, but for die hard Price fans, you won’t want to pass this one by.
Vinnie, whether you be the Abominable Dr. Phibes or the washed up magician on the Love Boat, you remain one of my favorite actors of all times.
Want some scary movie ideas? Check these Vincent Price old school classics: The House of Wax (’53), The Fly (1958), The House on Haunted Hill (’59), The Tingler (’59), House of Usher (’60), Pit and Pendulum (’61), Haunted Palace (’63), The Last Man on Earth (’64), Masque of the Red Death (’64), Scream and Scream Again (’70), Theater of Blood (’73).