Price, Vincent


Price, Vincent
▪ 1994

      U.S. actor (b. May 27, 1911, St. Louis, Mo.—d. Oct. 25, 1993, Los Angeles, Calif.), as the undisputed dark prince of gothic thrillers, cultivated his image as a debonair yet menacing villain with his silken voice, wicked grin, and imposing figure (he was 1.93 m [6 ft 4 in tall]); his spine-tingling performances coupled with a self-mocking air oozed of treachery in such horror classics as House of Wax (1953), The Tingler (1959), Diary of a Madman (1963), and Theatre of Blood (1973). Price, who earned a B.A. in art history and English from Yale University, obtained an advanced degree in fine arts from the University of London. After making his London stage debut in 1935, Price played Prince Albert in the West End production of Victoria Regina. He reprised the role on Broadway, and by the time he made his film bow in 1938, he was an established star. His early roles included some romantic leads and historical characterizations, including Sir Walter Raleigh in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), King Charles II in Hudson's Bay (1941), and Cardinal Richelieu in The Three Musketeers (1948). His mellifluous voice and ghoulish inflections provided narration for a number of films, and his creepy tones represented a ghastly spectre in Michael Jackson's Thriller video. Price's most memorable villains and madman, however, emerged in films adapted from Edgar Allen Poe stories. Among them were The House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), The Raven (1963), The Haunted Palace (1964), and The Masque of the Red Death (1964). Price also served as the host of the PBS series "Mystery!" and gained notice as an art connoisseur, gourmet, and author of cookbooks. He returned to the screen in The Whales of August (1987) and as the inventor of Edward Scissorhands (1990).

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▪ American actor
in full  Vincent Leonard Price 
born May 27, 1911, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.
died October 25, 1993, Los Angeles, Calif.
 American actor usually noted for his brilliant performances in horror films.

      Price was the son of the owner of the National Candy Company and the grandson of the inventor of baking powder. He graduated from Yale University in 1933 and spent a year as a schoolteacher before, as Price himself put it, “I had the extraordinary experience of finding out that I knew nothing.” He enrolled at the University of London in 1934 to pursue a master's degree in fine arts, but his burgeoning interest in the theatre soon led him to pursue an acting career. He first appeared onstage in a London production of the play Chicago and next portrayed the leading role of Prince Albert in Victoria Regina (both 1934). The latter production was particularly successful and transferred to Broadway in 1935 as a vehicle for actress Helen Hayes (Hayes, Helen). “I came along with the sets,” Price later joked, and he stayed with the production for three years.

      While in New York, Price joined Orson Welles (Welles, Orson)'s prestigious Mercury Theatre ensemble of radio actors and performed leading roles in several Mercury productions. In 1938 he traveled to Hollywood and made his screen debut in Service de Luxe, and he eventually landed lead and character roles in such popular films as The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), The House of the Seven Gables (1940), Laura (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), and Champagne for Caesar (1950). He portrayed romantic leads and classical characters during this period but was at his best when playing evil men for dramatic or comedic effect, as in the low-budget Shock (1946). By the 1950s Price had accumulated an impressively diverse résumé but had yet to establish himself as a major star.

      His big break came with House of Wax (1953), one of the first films shot in 3D, in which he played a murderous, but seemingly kindly, sculptor who uses human victims to populate his eerily lifelike wax museum. With this film he established himself as America's master of horror, and he was instrumental in reestablishing the genre's popularity, performing in such films as The Fly (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1958), Return of the Fly (1959), and The Tingler (1959). Price, however, did not limit himself to horror films, and he demonstrated his range with memorable performances in such fare as the Bob Hope (Hope, Bob) comedy Casanova's Big Night (1954), the newspaper drama While the City Sleeps (1956), and Cecil B. DeMille (DeMille, Cecil B.)'s biblical epic The Ten Commandments (1956).

      In the 1960s Price appeared in his most acclaimed series of films: adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe (Poe, Edgar Allan) short stories, as directed by B-film king Roger Corman (Corman, Roger). Often appearing with such veterans of the macabre as Boris Karloff (Karloff, Boris), Basil Rathbone (Rathbone, Basil), and Peter Lorre (Lorre, Peter), Price delivered memorably menacing performances in the films The House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Raven (1963), The Haunted Palace (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). It was during this period that Price attained cult-figure status, especially among the younger generation, and he gleefully parodied his own gothic image in such farces as Beach Party (1963), The Comedy of Terrors (1963), and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965). He eschewed the campy histrionics for such films as Matthew Hopkins: Witchfinder General (1968; released in the U.S. as The Conqueror Worm), in which he delivered one of his most effectively sinister performances.

      Price's popularity continued into the 1970s, and such movies as The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) and Theatre of Blood (1973) remain fan favourites. Shortly thereafter Price cut back substantially on his acting to devote himself to his other passions in life: fine art and gourmet cooking. In 1951 he established the Vincent Price Gallery and Art Foundation on the campus of East Los Angeles Community College, to which he donated much of his prestigious private collection. He donated generously to museums and art foundations throughout his life, and in 1972 he wrote the best-selling coffee-table book A Treasury of American Art. With his second wife, Mary, he coauthored several cookbooks and cohosted several television cooking shows throughout the 1960s and early '70s. Their A Treasury of Great Recipes (1965) is well regarded.

      Price returned to the New York stage in 1978 with his acclaimed portrayal of Oscar Wilde (Wilde, Oscar) in the play Diversions and Delights. He continued to accept occasional film and television roles throughout his later years; two of his final performances—in The Whales of August (1987) and Edward Scissorhands (1990)—were particularly memorable. The director of Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton, also paid homage to Price in the 1982 short film Vincent, which Price himself proclaimed a greater tribute “than a star on Hollywood Boulevard.” Price's menacing screen presence was in direct contrast to his offscreen reputation for kindness and generosity.

Additional Reading
Gary J. Svehla and Susan Svehla (eds.), Vincent Price (1998); Victoria Price, Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography (1999).

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Price, Vincent (Leonard) — born May 27, 1911, St. Louis, Mo., U.S. died Oct. 25, 1993, Los Angeles, Calif. U.S. actor. He first appeared onstage in a London production of the play Chicago and then played the leading role as Prince Albert in Victoria Regina (1935), which he …   Universalium

  • Price, Vincent (Leonard) — (27 may. 1911, San Luis, Mo., EE.UU.–25 oct. 1993, Los Ángeles, Cal.). Actor estadounidense. Su debut teatral fue en la producción londinense de la obra Chicago, y después interpretó el rol protagónico como el príncipe Alberto en Victoria Regina… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Vincent Price — als Mr. Manningham in der Broadway Inszenierung von „Angel Street“, 1942 Vincent Price (* 27. Mai 1911 in St. Louis, Missouri; † 25. Oktober 1993 in Los Angeles, Kalifornien; eigentlich Vincent Leonard Price jr.) war ein US ameri …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Vincent Price — Escena de la película Laura en 1944. Nombre real Vincent Leonard Price Nacimiento 27 de mayo de 1911 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Vincent — (1982) es el primer cortometraje dirigido por Tim Burton, que narra la historia de un niño llamado Vincent. Este personaje es un niño tranquilo y obediente que sin embargo en sus fantasías sueña con ser su idolatrado Vincent Price, uno de los… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Price — Price, Vincent (1911 1993), a US film actor famous for appearing in ↑horror films, including House of Wax (1953), The Mad Magician (1954), The Fly (1958), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Witchfinder General (1968), and Edward Scissorhands (1990) …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Vincent Price — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Price. Vincent Price …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Vincent Price — *ibdb name|id=56591|name=Vincent Price *amg name|2:57806 * [http://www.elac.edu/departments/vpgallery/gallery.htm Vincent Price Gallery] * [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi bin/fg.cgi?page=gr GRid=838 pt Find A Grave profile for Vincent Price] *… …   Wikipedia

  • Vincent Damon Furnier —   Chartplatzierungen Erklärung der Daten Singles Caught In A Dream (1971) …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • price — priceable, adj. /pruys/, n., v., priced, pricing. n. 1. the sum or amount of money or its equivalent for which anything is bought, sold, or offered for sale. 2. a sum offered for the capture of a person alive or dead: The authorities put a price… …   Universalium


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