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Vincent Price Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trade Mark (7)  | Trivia (71)  | Personal Quotes (22)  | Salary (4)

Overview (5)

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (lung cancer and emphysema)
Birth NameVincent Leonard Price Jr.
Nicknames The King of the Grand Guignol
The Merchant of Menace
The Renaissance Man
Height 6' 4" (1.93 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Actor, raconteur, art collector and connoisseur of haute cuisine are just some of the attributes associated with Vincent Price. He was born of Welsh ancestry to prosperous parents ("not rich enough to evoke envy but successful enough to demand respect"). His uniquely cultivated voice and persona were the result of a well-rounded education which began when his family dispatched him on a tour of Europe's cultural centres. His secondary education eventually culminated in a B.A. in English from Yale University and a degree in art history from London's Courtauld Institute.

Famously, his name has long been a byword for Gothic horror on screen. However, Vincent Price was, first and foremost, a man of the stage. It is where he began his career and where it ended. He faced the footlights for the first time at the Gate Theatre in London. At the age of 23, he played Prince Albert in the premiere of Arthur Schnitzler 's 'Victoria Regina' and made such an impression on producer Gilbert Miller that he launched the play on Broadway that same year (legendary actress Helen Hayes played the title role). In early 1938, he was invited to join Orson Welles 's Mercury Theatre on a five-play contract, beginning with 'The Shoemaker's Holiday'. He gave what was described as "a polished performance". Thus established, Vincent continued to make sporadic forays to the Great White Way, including as the Duke of Buckingham in Shakespeare's 'Richard III' (in which a reviewer for the New Yorker found him to be "satisfactorily detestable") and as Oscar Wilde in his award-winning one man show 'Diversions and Delights', which he took on a hugely successful world-wide tour in 1978. While based in California, Vincent was instrumental in the success of the La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, starring in several of their bigger productions, including 'Billy Budd' and 'The Winslow Boy'. In 1952, Vincent joined the national touring company of 'Don Juan in Hell' in which he was cast as the devil. Acting under the direction of Charles Laughton and accompanied by noted thespians Charles Boyer, Cedric Hardwicke and Agnes Moorehead, he later recalled this as one of his "greatest theatrical excitements".

As well as acting on stage, Vincent regularly performed on radio network programs, including Lux Radio Theatre, CBS Playhouse and shows for the BBC. He narrated or hosted assorted programs ranging from history (If these Walls Could Speak) to cuisine (Cooking Price-Wise). He wrote several best-selling books on his favourite subjects: art collecting and cookery. In 1962, he was approached by Sears Roebuck to act as a buying consultant "selling quality pictures to department store customers". As if that were not enough, he lectured for 15 years on art, poetry and even the history of villainy. He recorded numerous readings of poems by Edgar Allan Poe (nobody ever gave a better recital of "The Raven"!), Shelley and Whitman. He also served on the Arts Council of UCLA, was a member of the Fine Arts Committee for the White House, a former chairman of the Indian Arts & Crafts Board and on the board of trustees of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

And besides all of that, Vincent Price remained a much sought-after motion picture actor. He made his first appearance on screen as a romantic lead in Service de Luxe (1938), a frothy Universal comedy which came and went without much fanfare. After that, he reprised his stage role as Master Hammon in an early television production of 'The Shoemaker's Holiday'. For one reason or another, Vincent was henceforth typecast as either historical figures (Sir Walter Raleigh, Duke of Clarence, Mormon leader Joseph Smith, King Charles II, Cardinal Richelieu, Omar Khayyam) or ineffectual charmers and gigolos. Under contract to 20th Century Fox (1940-46), Laura (1944) provided one of his better vehicles in the latter department, as did the lush Technicolor melodrama Leave Her to Heaven (1945) which had Vincent showcased in a notably powerful scene as a prosecuting attorney. His performance was singled out by the L.A. Times as meriting "attention as contending for Academy supporting honors".

His first fling with the horror genre was Dragonwyck (1946), a Gothic melodrama set in the Hudson Valley in the early 1800's. For the first time, Vincent played a part he actually coveted and fought hard to win. His character was in effect a precursor of those he would later make his own while working for Roger Corman and American-International. As demented, drug-addicted landowner Nicholas Van Ryn, he so effectively terrorised Gene Tierney's Miranda Wells that the influential columnist Louella Parsons wrote with rare praise: "The role of Van Ryn calls for a lot of acting and Vincent admits he's a ham and loves to act all over the place, but the fact that he has restrained himself and doesn't over-emote is a tribute to his ability". If Vincent was an occasional ham, he proved it with his Harry Lime pastiche Carwood in The Bribe (1949). Much better was his starring role in a minor western, The Baron of Arizona (1950), in which he was convincingly cast as a larcenous land office clerk attempting to create his own desert baronetcy.

With House of Wax (1953) , Vincent fine-tuned the character type he had established in Dragonwyck, adding both pathos and comic elements to the role of the maniacal sculptor Henry Jarrod. It was arduous work under heavy make-up which simulated hideous facial scarring and required three hours to apply and three hours to remove. He later commented that it "took his face months to heal because it was raw from peeling off wax each night". However, the picture proved a sound money maker for Warner Brothers and firmly established Vincent Price in a cult genre from which he was henceforth unable to escape. The majority of his subsequent films were decidedly low-budget affairs in which the star tended to be the sole mitigating factor: The Mad Magician (1954), The Fly (1958) (and its sequel), House on Haunted Hill (1959), the absurd The Tingler (1959) (easily the worst of the bunch) and The Bat (1959). With few exceptions, Vincent's acting range would rarely be stretched in the years to come.

Vincent's association with the genial Roger Corman began when he received a script for The Fall of the House of Usher, beginning a projected cycle of cost-effective films based on short stories by Edgar Allen Poe. As Roderick Usher, Vincent was Corman's "first and only choice". Though he was to receive a salary of $50,000 for the picture, it was his chance "to express the psychology of Poe's characters" and to "imbue the movie versions with the spirit of Poe" that clinched the deal for Vincent. He made another six films in this vein, all of them box office winners. Not Academy Award stuff, but nonetheless hugely enjoyable camp entertainment and popular with all but highbrow audiences. Who could forget Vincent at his scenery chewing best as the resurgent inquisitor, luring Barbara Steele into the crypt in Pit and the Pendulum (1961)? Or as pompous wine aficionado Fortunato Luchresi in that deliriously funny wine tasting competition with Montresor Herringbone (Peter Lorre) in Tales of Terror (1962)? Best still, the climactic battle of the magicians pitting Vincent's Erasmus Craven against Boris Karloff's malevolent Dr. Scarabus in The Raven (1963) (arguably, the best offering in the Poe cycle). The Comedy of Terrors (1963) was played strictly for laughs, with the inimitable combo of Price and Lorre this time appearing as homicidal undertakers.

For the rest of the 60s, Vincent was content to remain in his niche, playing variations on the same theme in City in the Sea (1965) and Witchfinder General (1968) (as Matthew Hopkins). He also spoofed his screen personae as Dr. Goldfoot and as perennial villain Egghead in the Batman (1966) series. He rose once more to the occasion in the cult black comedy The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) (and its sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)) commenting that he had to play Anton Phibes "very seriously so that it would come out funny". The tagline, a parody of the ad for Love Story (1970), announced "love means never having to say you're ugly".

During the 70s and 80s, Vincent restricted himself mainly to voice-overs and TV guest appearances. His final role of note was as the inventor in Edward Scissorhands (1990), a role written specifically for him. The embodiment of gleeful, suave screen villainy, Vincent Price died in Los Angeles in October 1993 at the age of 82. People magazine eulogised him as "the Gable of Gothic". Much earlier, an English critic named Gilbert Adair spoke for many fans when he said "Every man his Price - and mine is Vincent".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (3)

Coral Browne (24 October 1974 - 29 May 1991) ( her death)
Mary Grant (25 August 1949 - 15 August 1973) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Edith Barrett (23 April 1938 - 4 June 1948) ( divorced) ( 1 child)

Trade Mark (7)

Often played in horror films with a sense of black humor
Often played an anti-hero who wants revenge on those who wronged him
Frequently played villains who died screaming
Distinctive low-pitched voice and atmospheric narration
Often played imposing, menacing villains
Towering height and slender frame
Ecstatic, hysterical and terrifying laugh

Trivia (71)

Price and Christopher Lee were born on the same day (May 27th) and Peter Cushing was born on the 26th. All three are considered legends of the horror genre, and all three appeared together in Scream and Scream Again (1970) and House of the Long Shadows (1983).
An avid gourmet chef, he wrote a number of cookbooks.
Was notoriously superstitious. He once joked that he kept a horseshoe, a crucifix and a mezzuza on his front door.
Shortly before his death, he said that one of his most favorite roles was the voice of Professor Ratigan in the Disney feature The Great Mouse Detective (1986), especially since two original songs had been written for him.
Price's first wife, Edith Barrett, gave birth to his son Vincent Leonard Price III on August 30, 1940.
Had his own mail-order book club in the 1970s, "Vincent Price Books", specializing in mystery and detective novels.
He was the Wednesday night host for CBS Radio's "Sears Mystery Theater" (1979). He was still Wednesday's host when it became "The Mutual Radio Theater" on Mutual Radio (1980).
Host of BBC Radio's "The Price of Fear" (1973-1975, 1983).
His ashes were scattered off the Californian coast of Malibu together with his favorite gardening hat.
Had started an egg-throwing fight while making a guest spot as the villain Egghead on the television series Batman (1966).
Although always a gentleman, he was considered an eccentric and often engaged in over-the-top theatrics while discussing his favorite subjects, cooking and poetry.
In 1964, at the request of a personal friend, he narrated a brief history of Tombstone, Arizona (titled, "Tombstone, The Town Too Tough to Die"), for use in the diorama at the site of the O.K. Corral gunfight. He reportedly recorded the 20-minute piece in a single take at a recording studio in Hollywood, and when asked about his fee, asked for his pal, the owner of the exhibit at the time, to buy him lunch. Price never visited Tombstone but his narration is still used in the diorama.
Made a short speech about the black widow on Alice Cooper's album "Welcome to My Nightmare".
Attended and graduated from the St. Louis Country Day School in St. Louis, Missouri.
Had appeared in eight movies with "house" in the title -- most of them horror movies -- including The House of the Seven Gables (1940), House of Wax (1953), House on Haunted Hill (1959), House of Usher (1960), House of 1,000 Dolls (1967), The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (1971), Madhouse (1974), and House of the Long Shadows (1983).
He received a Bachelor's degree in art history from Yale University and wrote a syndicated art column in the 1960s. An avid art collector, he founded the Vincent Price Gallery on the campus of East Los Angeles College and encouraged others to develop a personal passion for art.
He often expressed an interest in doing Shakespeare, which is why Theater of Blood (1973) was one of his favorite roles.
Charlton Heston starred in The Omega Man (1971) and Will Smith starred in I Am Legend (2007), the remakes of Price's The Last Man on Earth (1964). Prior to this, Heston and Price worked together in The Ten Commandments (1956).
He starred in "How to Make a Movie", a short film that was included in the "Vincent Price: Moviemaking the Hollywood Way", a home movie outfit sold by Sears, Roebuck and Company.
Price's second wife, Mary Grant, gave birth to his daughter Victoria Price on April 27, 1962.
He was a longtime member of St. Victor's, and his wife Coral Browne was buried there with a Mozart Requiem Mass accompanied by a full orchestra.
He attended the opening night of the first production of Richard O'Brien's The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).
Had provided quasi-"rap" voice-over for Michael Jackson's music video Michael Jackson: Thriller (1983).
Close friends with Cassandra Peterson, the actress whose most famous character is Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
In 1951, Price founded the Vincent Price Gallery and Art Foundation on the campus of the East Los Angeles Community College. It is celebrating its 45th year.
In the 1960s, Price and Peter Lorre starred as crimefighting antique dealers in the unsold pilot, "Collector's Item".
Had played the Spirit of the Nightmare in Alice Cooper's television special Alice Cooper: The Nightmare (1975).
In 1990, Price was hired by Walt Disney Imagineering to voice the role of the Phantom for "Phantom Manor", a new ride for the upcoming Euro Disneyland, scheduled to open in 1992. He was given a French script, but the takes were so bad, the entire performance was deemed unusable. After working on the French script for over three hours, Craig Fleming, who adapted the script and directed the recording sessions, gave him an English version of the script. Price recorded the entire piece in two takes. The English recordings were placed in the attraction, but after several months of operation, Euro Disney (the company that owns and operates the resort) felt there was not enough French in Euro Disneyland. So by 1993, in an attempt to add more French to the park, Price's narration was removed from the attraction and replaced by the French spiel, this time recorded by Gérard Chevalier. Price's narration can be found on a Disney Haunted Mansion CD. The CD, which contains a full ride-through of the attraction, claims Price's narration was "never used at Disneyland Paris", but that's because the park was still called Euro Disneyland when it was used. Today, the park is now known as Parc Disneyland (as of 2002) and, although his narration is long gone, one part of his performance remains in Phantom Manor: his laugh. Although the spoken dialog of the Phantom character was changed, Price's original recordings of the Phantom's evil laughter still remain intact, inside the attraction.
According to Price, when he and Peter Lorre went to view Bela Lugosi's body at Lugosi's funeral, Lorre, upon seeing Lugosi dressed in his famous Dracula cape, quipped, "Do you think we should drive a stake through his heart just in case?".
Was a member of the family that started the company that makes Magic Baking Powder.
He would often attend showings of his films in costumes; often to play pranks on moviegoers.
At times, he struggled to get roles early in his career due to his 6' 4" frame, as producers often avoid casting actors who are much taller than their leading men.
Converted to Catholicism shortly after marrying Coral Browne, a Roman Catholic. According to Price's daughter, the Australian-born Browne then became an American citizen for him.
His role in Edward Scissorhands (1990) was intended to be much larger, but since Price was very ill from emphysema and Parkinson's disease he was only able to appear in two scenes.
Price voted for Republican candidate Wendell Willkie in the 1940 presidential election, since both his parents were conservatives. Shortly thereafter, his political views altered completely, and he later became one of the most active liberal Democrats in Hollywood.
Had played the Devil in The Story of Mankind (1957).
Won $32,000 in an appearance on the game show The $64,000 Question (1955).
Is remembered by some Canadians for his narration on The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (1971).
A transcript of an on-stage Q&A with Price (from a 1990s Fangoria convention) appears in Tom Weaver's book "Attack of the Monster Movie Makers" (McFarland & Co., 1994).
His likeness appeared on such Milton Bradley games as "Hangman" and "Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture" in the 1970s.
Vincent once told the story of a middle-aged woman who came up to him while on a flight to Barcelona for a fantasy film festival. She was quite excited and said, "Oh sir, could I have your autograph? I can't tell you how many years I have enjoyed your films, Mr. Karloff." Always the perfect gentlemen and not wanting to disappoint her, Vincent brought Boris Karloff back to life and gave the woman an autograph fifteen years after the actor had died.
Gave over 800 performances in the United States and Australia between 1977 and 1980 in his one-man show "Diversions & Delights" (invariably to standing ovations), playing Oscar Wilde in 1899 (set at the Parisian concert hall in the Rue de Pepinier). The play was written by John Gay and directed by Joseph Hardy. Price was at his brilliant best, particularly at smaller, more intimate venues.
Was a prime mover in the success of the La Jolla Playhouse in California, starring in many of their productions, including "The Winslow Boy" and "Billy Budd".
Made his acting debut at London's Gate Theatre.
He was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Motion Pictures at 6201 Hollywood Boulevard; and for Television at 6501 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.
In his later years, when asked for his autograph, he would often sign "Dolores Del Rio" instead of his actual name. When once asked why, he replied, in complete seriousness, "I promised her on her deathbed that I would do what I could to keep her name alive!".
Price served for decades on the board of directors of the Los Angeles County Museum.
His father was president of a company that made jelly-beans and jawbreakers as well as Price's Baking Powder, which was sold to Royal in 1890.
During breaks in the long filming The Song of Bernadette (1943), Price and former "Victoria Regina" co-star George Macready opened an art gallery, which they called The Little Gallery.
In 1948, Price joined Fanny Brice, Edward G. Robinson, and other art lovers to open his museum in Hollywood called the Modern Institute of Art. It closed within two years because of lack of funds.
Was a staunch liberal Democrat.
In October 2013, Price was honored as being Turner Classic Movies Star of the Month.
Was originally cast in Forever Amber (1947) but when filming was suspended after a month for further work on the script he was dropped and replaced with Richard Greene.
When Price filmed While the City Sleeps (1956), he became friends with Fritz Lang because of their mutual love of art.
Although he turned down Jose Ferrer's offer to play one of the leads in "My Three Angels" on stage, he did consent to play the Duke of Buckingham in Ferrer's "Richard III" at New York's City Center in 1953.
Price was scheduled by Universal to make his screen debut in Prescription for Romance (1937), but Kent Taylor replaced him. Next he was set for That Certain Age (1938), but was deemed too young and replaced by Melvyn Douglas.
When Lillian Gish first met him on The Whales of August (1987), she said, "I finally got my Prince Albert," a reference to "Victoria Regina".
During the 1970s, Price said that George C. Scott was his favorite current actor although Cary Grant (then retired) was his all-time favorite.
He was the visual inspiration for the original illustrations of the comic book superhero Doctor Strange/Stephen Strange (created in 1963). Price was 52 years old at the time. Strange's full name is Stephen Vincent Strange.
The 2013 song "Vincent Price" by the hard rock band Deep Purple is dedicated to him. Price was friends with the band, and in 1975, appeared on Roger Glover's live version of "The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper Feast" as a narrator.
Price was known as an art connoisseur, and was a champion of American Indian / Native American art in particular. Price was appointed to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board under Eisenhower, he supported the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and he has been the subject of discussions at the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in Santa Fe.
In what would have been a most memorable event, Charles Ludlam (The Ridiculous Theatrical Company, "The Mystery of Irma Vep") was to have directed a production of Shakespeare's ultra bloody "Titus Andronicus" at the New York Shakespeare Festival in Central Park, starring, guess who... Vincent Price, thereby fulfilling Vincent's long standing desire to play Shakespeare. Unfortunately, Ludlam died during the initial planning stage.
He was awarded a Star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame on June 25, 1989.
Price was supportive of his daughter who came out as lesbian, and he was critical of Anita Bryant's anti-gay campaign in the 1970s.
Sesame Street made a puppet with his likeness, Vincent Twice Vincent Twice, when he found out about it he was ecstatic and considered it a great honor.
In the 1970s, Tom Baker and Ian Marter attempted to develop a film script which was specifically intended to co-star Price entitled "Doctor Who (1963) Meets Scratchman", which would have been directed by James Hill. However, copyright issues prevented this film from ever being realized.
Died less than a week before Halloween, fitting considering his status as a horror movie icon.
Was in three Oscar Best Picture nominees: The Song of Bernadette (1943), Wilson (1944) and The Ten Commandments (1956).
The last film he saw in cinemas was Aladdin (1992), he loved it but he was sad because he predicted his yet to be released film The Thief and the Cobbler (1994) would draw some unfavorable comparisons to it.
Was friends with Batman (1966) co-star Yvonne Craig.
Was good friends with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Adam West and John Carradine.

Personal Quotes (22)

Someone called actors "sculptors in snow". Very apt. In the end, it's all nothing.
I don't play monsters. I play men besieged by fate and out for revenge.
"Gothic" is just a word recalling a multitude of sins!
[Tim Burton's Vincent (1982)] was immortality - better than a star on Hollywood Boulevard.
A man who limits his interests limits his life.
A lot of the recent actresses look and act like my niece. Now, she's a good girl, but I wouldn't pay to see her.
I sometimes feel that I'm impersonating the dark unconscious of the whole human race. I know this sounds sick, but I love it.
Doing a religious picture is a boring thing because everybody is on their best behavior - hoping for the keys to the kingdom, I guess.
What's important about an actor is his acting, not his life.
I hate being old and ill! Don't get old if you can avoid it!
The wonderful thing about Hawaii is, there, it doesn't take any words at all to say "I love you." You can say it with a pineapple and a twenty.
The horror thriller offers the serious actor unique opportunities to test his ability to make the unbelievable believable.
Suddenly in the '50s, a whole new group of actors came out: Marlon Brando, James Dean and Paul Newman, who were very moody and realistic. So actors like myself and Basil Rathbone and so on didn't really fit into those realistic dramas and we began to do costume pictures. This was really the only place we could go on working if we wanted to survive as actors. Most of the things of my later career have been costume pictures. They require a certain knowledge of the language, they require enunciation and a poetic approach to the language. Really, the one thing we have over the apes is our language, isn't it? That's about all.
[on House of Wax (1953) and director André De Toth] It's almost my favorite Hollywood story. Where else in the world would you hire a man with one eye to direct a picture in 3-D?
[on accepting the role of Baka in The Ten Commandments (1956)] You aren't a movie actor until you've been in a DeMille film.
[on Gene Tierney] Gene was the most underrated actress that we ever had! I've known her since she was about 17; and I adored her! She really wasn't a great beauty or sex idol. When you look at Laura (1944), and people ask why it has lasted, I think it's because of Gene Tierney. There's no way she can look dated. Her hair looks modern, her clothes. She didn't have a great body, but had a body that wore clothes well.
Hollywood's worst fault is typecasting. John Wayne, Cary Grant, everyone who's been a success - we all had the same problem. And they tell me I'm too important to play small character roles; you can't win!
I played so many gentle men at the beginning of my career that I certainly wanted to play some villains and so I got kind of stuck in villains.
I like to be seen, I love being busy and I believe in being active. I know some people think I've lowered myself as an actor, but my idea of 'professional decline' is 'not working'.
The best parts in movies are the heavies. The hero is usually someone who has really nothing to do. He comes out on top, but it's the heavy who has all the fun.
Horror movies don't date because they were dated to begin with, they were mannered and consciously so - Gothic tales with an unreality. They have the fun of a fairy tale.
To me, films that deal with drug addiction, crime and war are the real horror films. In a world where slaughter and vicious crimes are daily occurrences, a good ghoulish movie is comic relief.

Salary (4)

House on Haunted Hill (1959) $10,000 + 10% of gross
Return of the Fly (1959) $25,000
The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (1971) $13,000
Escapes (1986) $10,000

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