Vincent Price was born into a prosperous St. Louis family, graduated from Yale, studied literature in England, and was seduced into acting after seeing Sir John Gielgud's "Hamlet" numerous times.
The theater brought him back to New York where he made his Hollywood debut and carved out a career as a utility player -- ranging from straight-laced do-gooder through comic support to lurid spoofs of horror movies, many based on Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poems.
He was almost as well known off the screen for his interest in fine art -- establishing a collection at East Los Angeles Community College -- and for his elegant book of recipes. You have to watch out for the last one because there are some misprints. Use only half the amount of breadcrumbs stipulated in the recipe for eggplant parmigiana.
He was heterosexual but a little effete. In "His Kind of Woman," I could barely believe the scenes in which he throws hand grenades at the pursuing villains. He throws them the way other people throw darts in a pub.
Not to demean the actor, the fine arts freak, or the work. His turn as the scorned tragedian in "Theater of Blood" is something I watch repeatedly. Especially hilarious is his impression of the fag hair dresser who electrocutes Coral Brown. And his captain of industry -- and sponsor of a quiz show -- in "Champagne for Caesar" is one of the most amusing performances of the period.
He died at eighty. What an interesting guy.
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