Looking Back: Oct. 13, 2013

History column

Vincent Price

Vincent Price

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

As Halloween approaches, it seems a great time to take a look back at the life and works of the legendary Vincent Price.

— Vincent Leonard Price Jr. was born on May 27, 1911 in St Louis , Mo., the youngest of four children.

Vincent Price Sr. was the president of the National Candy Company and grandfather Vincent Clarence Price invented Dr. Price’s Baking Powder, which secured the family’s fortune.

— Price was educated in private schools and toured Europe at age 16.

— In 1933, Price graduated from Yale, where he was an art history major.

— After one year of teaching, Price enrolled at the University of London, planning to gain a master’s in fine arts. It was in London that he was drawn to the theater.

— In 1935, Price began performing on stage in London with the Orson Welles Mercury Theatre.

— One year later, Price appeared as Prince Albert Victor in the American production of Laurence Housman’s play “Victoria Regina” with Helen Hayes in the star role of Queen Victoria.

— It was in 1939 that Price stepped into the horror genre in Boris Karloff’s film “Tower of London.” That film was followed in 1940 with a title role in “The Invisible Man.”

— One of Price’s favorite films came in a comedy role as a tycoon in “Champagne for Caesar” in 1950.

— Horror films were quite popular in the 1950s and Price was a busy man. “House of Wax” in 1953 sealed Price’s spot in the horror film business, followed by such films as “The Mad Magician” (1954), “The Fly” (1958) and “House on Haunted Hill” (1959).

— Price briefly stepped away from scary movies in 1956 to play Baka, the master builder, in “The Ten Commandments.”

— While not occupied with a movie, Price was heard often on radio and appeared just as often on television as the new technology began to enter American homes. In the 1955-56 TV season, Price was cast three times on “Crossroads,” a religion anthology which studied clergymen from different denominations.

— The early 1960s was filled mostly with film adaptations of the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

— Remaining open to any and all possibilities, Price starred in comedy roles once again in 1965 in “Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine,” as well as the sequel, “Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs,” in 1966.

— In 1967, Price first appeared on the game show “Hollywood Squares.” He was on the panel for the finale in 1980.

— One of Price’s final movies was Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands” in 1990. In the film, he played a gentle version of Dr. Frankenstein who created a teenage boy (Johnny Depp). His character died before he could finish with the boy, leaving him with metal scissors for hands.


— Vincent Price was notoriously superstitious, once jokingly stating that he kept a horseshoe, a crucifix and a Jewish mezzuza on his front door.

— In 1951, Price donated 90 pieces of his own art collection to East Los Angeles College, thus establishing the Vincent Price Art Museum. The museum now houses more than 9,000 pieces.

— From 1962 to 1971, Sears-Roebuck offered the “Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art,” which sold about 50,000 pieces of work to the general public. Price selected and commissioned works for the collection, including works by Rembrandt, Picasso and Salvador Dali.

— In 1964, Price narrated a brief history of Tombstone, Ariz., for use in the diorama at the site of the O.K. Corral gunfight. He completed the 20-minute recording on one take. When asked his price, he asked the owner of the site, a friend of his, to buy him lunch. The recording is still in use.

— Price’s voice over is heard on Alice Cooper’s first solo album, “Welcome to My Nightmare” (1975). He went on to provide a quasi-rap voice over for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in 1983.

— A gourmet cook and author of several cookbooks, Price was a frequent guest on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” where he once demonstrated how to poach a fish in the dishwasher.

— Price was married three times and had one son and one daughter. For his last marriage (Australian actress Coral Browne), he converted to Catholicism for her and she became an American citizen for him in 1974.

— According to Price, one of his favorite television roles was that of the villain Egghead in the “Batman” series.

— A lifelong lover of roller coasters, Price narrated a 1987 documentary on the history of amusement parks and coasters.

— Price’s likeness appeared on such Milton Bradley games as “Hangman” and “Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture” in the 1970s.

— Price once said ” A man who limits his interests limits his life.” Price’s only apparent limit was his life, which ended on Oct. 25, 1993, a victim of lung cancer. His ashes were scattered off the coast of Malibu.


(d) All of the above, as well as “The Captain and Tennille”and “The Muppet Show” and “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” and many, many more!