Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Vincent Price: Horror's Most Iconic Actor

Vincent Price is one of film's most legendary actors. He was beloved for his haunting performances in numerous classic and modern horror films. However, there was much more to Price than an eerie voice and an unforgettable face. He was a philanthropist, author, chef, art collector and promoter of lesbian and gay rights. Behind the characters he played was a man with many and varied interests.

Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. was born on May 27, 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri. His lineage can be traced to a baby born on the Mayflower off the coast of Massachusetts, making him as American as Thanksgiving. His immediate family was in the candy business and had done well for themselves, making it possible for young Vincent Price to attend private schools and eventually get a degree in art history from Yale. He would later collect art and donate thousands of pieces to the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College.

Price was initially a teacher, but he found his calling on the stage in London. While he is most memorable in horror roles, thanks to his distinctive features, he started out as a character actor in dramas and even a comedy or two. Horror roles did pop up early in his career. However, it wasn't until the 1950's, when he had roles in The Fly, House on Haunted Hill, House of Wax and others, that he became known for his abilities in the genre. In the 60s, he further cemented his place in horror history with a slew of Poe adaptations, including The Pit and the Pendulum and The Raven.

Even while making his mark in horror, Vincent Price branched out, landing roles on television– including the role of Egghead on Batman. He also continued to do stage roles until late in his career. Music gave him another outlet for his talent, gaining him a new generation of followers. He did a cover of Monster Mash and a voice over for Alice Coopers Welcome to My Nightmare. His most significant contribution to music was his narration of Michael Jackson's Thriller. If you didn't know him before Thriller was released, you knew his voice afterward.

Vincent Price married three times. His first wife was actress Edith Barrett. They married in 1938 and divorced about a decade later. They had one child­–a son named Vincent. The following year, he married his second wife, Mary Grant Price–a costume designer with whom he had a daughter they named Victoria. The couple also authored cookbooks together. Vincent's third wife was actress Coral Brown. They married in 1973, the year after his divorce from Mary. They stayed married until she passed away in 1991.

In 1990, Vincent Price played the role of the inventor in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands. The pair worked together before on the short film Vincent in 1982. Unfortunately, the aging actor was so sick with emphysema and lung cancer by the time he did Edward Scissorhands opposite a young Johnny Depp that his work with the film was cut short. He died just a few years later at the age of 82. To this day, there is no one in horror who comes close to his reputation.

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