Vincent Price Vincent Leonard Price Jr. (May 27, 1911 - October 25, 1993) was an American film actor. He is best remembered for his roles in a series of low-budget horror films where his distinctive voice and serio-comic attitude were well used. In such films, his tall physique and polished urbane manner made him something of an American counterpart to the older Boris Karloff.
He was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Vincent Leonard Price and Marguerite Willcox. His father was president of the National Candy Company. Vincent Jr. was educated at Yale in art history and fine art. He was a member of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity and the Courtauld Institute, London. He became interested in theater in the 1930s, appearing professionally on stage from 1935.
He made his film debut in 1938 with Service de Luxe and established himself as a competent player, notably in Laura (1944), directed by Otto Preminger. He acted as Joseph Smith, Jr. in the movie Brigham Young (1940).
In the 1950s he moved into horror films, enjoying the role in the successful curiosity House of Wax (1953), the first 3-D film to land in the year's top ten at the North American box office, and then the classic monster movie The Fly (1958).
The six-foot-four actor also starred in the original House on Haunted Hill (1959) as the eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren. (The actor playing the same character in the 1999 remake not only was made to resemble Price, but also renamed after him.)
In the 1960s, he had a number of low-budget successes with Roger Corman and AIP including the Edgar Allan Poe adaptations House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and The Tomb of Ligeia (1965).
These were followed by numerous other roles throughout the 1960s where he played characters in horror films that were often closely modelled on the Corman Poe films. He has also appeared in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Theatre of Blood (1973), where he created a series of campy tongue-in-cheek villains. Price also recorded dramatic readings of Poe's short stories and poems, which were collected together with readings by Basil Rathbone.
He often spoke of his joy at playing "Egghead" on the popular Batman television series. Another of his co-stars, Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), often said Price was her favorite co-star.
Vincent, after a take was printed, started throwing eggs at Adam West and Burt Ward and when asked to stop replied "With a full artillery? Not a chance!", causing an eggfight on the soundstage.
He greatly reduced his film work from around 1975, as horror itself suffered a slump, and increased his narrative and voice work. For example, Price's voiceover is heard on Alice Cooper's first solo album Welcome to My Nightmare; in Michael Jackson's music video, Thriller as well on Iron Maiden's "The Number of the Beast"'; and, in one of his last major and one of his favourite feature film roles, as the voice of Professor Ratigan in Walt Disney Pictures' The Great Mouse Detective. He also starred for a year in the early 1970s in a syndicated daily radio program, Tales of the Unexplained.
In the summer of 1977 he began performing as Oscar Wilde, in the one man stage play Diversions and Delights. Written by John Gay and directed by Joe Hardy, the play is set in a Parisian theatre, on a night about one year before Wilde's death. In an attempt to earn some much-needed money, he is speaking to the audience about his life, his works and, in the second act, about his love for Bosie, Lord Alfred Douglas, which led to his downfall.
The original tour of the play was a success in every city that it played, except for New York City. In the summer of 1979 he performed it at the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Colorado on the same stage that Wilde had spoken to the miners about art some 96 years before. Price would eventually perform the play worldwide and many, including his daughter Victoria, considered it the best acting that he ever did.
From 1981 to 1989, he hosted the PBS television series Mystery!. His last significant film work was as the inventor in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990).
The blue-eyed Price was married three times. Price fathered a son named Vincent, Jr. with his first wife, a former actress named Edith. Price and his second wife Mary donated hundreds of works of art and a large amount of money to East Los Angeles College in the early 1960s, in order to endow the Vincent and Mary Price Gallery there. Their daughter Victoria was born in 1962.
Price's last marriage was to the Australian actress Coral Browne who appeared with him (as one of his victims)in Theatre Of Blood (1973). People have said theirs was one of Hollywood's great love stories; he converted to Catholicism for her, and she became a U.S. citizen for him. According to his daughter, Price became disillusioned with the faith after her 1991 death, from which friends say he never recovered. He followed her to the grave two years later.
In his later years, Price spoke out against modern horror films that glorified violence, pointing out that his films were harmless spoofs by comparison.
Price was also a noted gourmet cook and art collector. From 1962 to 1971, Sears, Roebuck offered the Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art, selling about 50,000 pieces of fine art to the general public. Price selected and commissioned works for the collection, including works by Rembrandt, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dali (see ).
When Disneyland Paris was in development, Price was to play the voice role of the Phantom in Phantom Manor, a variation on the Haunted Mansion theme. However, shortly after the park opened in 1992, the narration was removed and replaced by a French narration done by Gerard Chevalier though Price's menacing laughter still remains in use.
Vincent Price was a lifelong smoker. He had also long suffered from emphysema and Parkinson's disease, which had forced his role in Edward Scissorhands to be much smaller than intended.
His illness presumably also contributed to his retirement from Mystery, as his condition was becoming noticeable on-screen. He died of lung cancer at age 82, on October 25, 1993. The next night, his biography, Conversations With Vincent, directed by and featuring Tim Burton, was first aired on the Arts and Entertainment Network. The broadcast began with a note by A&E dedicating the broadcast to Vincent Price's memory.
A black box theatre at Price's alma mater, St. Louis Country Day School, is named after him.
Vincent Twice Vincent Twice was a Price lookalike character on Sesame Street.
In 1989, Vincent Price was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame.
In 1999 a frank and detailed biography of Vincent Price, written by his daughter Victoria Price, was published by St Martin's Griffin Press.
Starting in 2005, featured cast member Bill Hader of the variety show Saturday Night Live played Price on the show.