No Halloween season is a true Halloween season without a healthy dose of Vincent Price movies. But wait! Don’t sit down to shudder along with House of Wax or The Abominable Dr. Phibes just yet! To truly appreciate the man and his work, you’ll first want to bolster your Priceducation with these 20 Things You May Not Have Known About Vincent Price!
1. That Vincent Price was a gourmet chef and cookbook author is well known among fans, but they might not be aware that culinary interests ran deep in his bloodline. His grandfather, Vincent C. Price, invented baking powder and pioneered cornstarch as a baking ingredient, and his father, Vincent Leonard Price, was the president of the National Candy Company.
2. Vincent Price’s first wife, Edith Barrett, didn’t become as synonymous with horror as her husband did, but she did star in the creepy classic I Walked with a Zombie.
3. Price’s daughter Victoria is a serious writer who wrote scripts about Richard Widmark and her dad’s old friend Roddy McDowall for A&E’s Biography series and an extensive and refreshingly objective biography about her dad. She also had a brief role as a reporter in Price’s final film, Edward Scissorhands.
4. As a young man from an unquestioningly conservative St. Louis family, Price expressed sympathy with this burgeoning Nazi party. However, he underwent a major liberal awakening upon moving to Hollywood where he became active in such causes as the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. Ironically, Joseph McCarthy targeted Price as a possible communist in the fifties, citing Price’s anti-Nazi inclinations as proof that he was some sort of dangerous radical. McCarthy was one loony piece of work.
5. Vincent Price never got the chance to play Dracula, but he did have tea with the wife of the count’s creator when Florence Stoker invited Price to her house in 1934.
6. When getting drowned in a vat of “wine” at the climax of Tower of London, Price was actually submerged in mere water. Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone had thoughtfully filled the water with whatever trash they could find as a prank on their young costar.
7. Price felt that a single peeper was all that kept House of Wax from being a piece of schlock. Andre de Toth only had one eye, which kept the depth perception-deprived director from fully exploiting his film’s 3D gimmick.
8. The climax of The Fly, in which tiny Al Hedison chirps “Help Meee!” from a spider’s web, may be one of the most disturbing scenes in a fifties horror film, but Vincent Price and co-star Herbet Marshall didn’t quite greet the scene with appropriate disturbance. Instead of cowering in fear, Price and Marshall were overcome with fits of laughter, cracking up so much that director Kurt Neumann had a hell of a time capturing the take that appears in the finished film.
9. After noting how pale Conrad Veidt was in The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Price suggested that his own Roderick Usher should have exaggeratedly white hair and skin in House of Usher.
10. While making The Pit and Pendulum, Price liked to wear pink socks under his costume. To costar Barbara Steele, he confided that it was “Just a little kink of mine, darling.”
11. One of the most trying scenes Vincent Price had to film was the boa constrictor scene in The Raven. Price had a terrible fear of snakes.
12. Price (wrongly) assumed that Jack Nicholson was AIP producer James Nicholson’s son. He and Boris Karloff delighted in chanting “Nepotism! Nepotism!” at the future superstar on the set of The Raven.
13. Vincent Price was Roger Corman’s first choice to star in one of the director’s most notoriously shoddy pictures, but when Price proved unavailable for the project, Boris Karloff took his place opposite Jack Nicholson in The Terror.
14. Vincent Price delivered the eulogy at the funeral of old friend and co-worker Peter Lorre.
15. As many horror stars do, Vincent Price had funny ideas about what constituted horror… ideas that exempted him from the genre. He classified his Edgar Allan Poe movies as “Gothic” tales while more realistic fare such as Marathon Man and Taxi Driver were true horror movies.
16. Vincent Price was a serious art aficionado, collector, and historian devoted to exposing everyone, no matter their economic or social standing, to fine art. He curated a collection of art to be sold by Sears department stores, and in a grand coup, convinced master surrealist Salvador Dalí to paint The Madonna and the Mystical Rose exclusively for Sears’ Vincent Price Collection.
|The Madonna and the Mystical Rose|
17. In the “Ogg Grows in Gotham” episode of TV’s Batman, narrator Desmond Doomsday (voiced by Batman creator William Dozier) refers to Vincent Price’s Egghead as “The World’s Greatest Criminal Mind.” The descriptive phrase was also the title of song sung by Professor Ratigan in Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective. Voicing Ratigan was none other than Vincent Price.
18. Price really made Trevor Crole-Rees earn his keep while filming The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Price says he laughed so much while playing the title ghoul that makeup man Crole-Rees had to touch up the elaborate scars “every five minutes.”
19. After contributing a spooky rap to the title track of the best selling album in U.S. pop history, Vincent Price was deeply irritated that he did not get a piece of the royalties for “Thriller”. When Michael Jackson got wind of this, he sent Price what the pop star thought was adequate recompense: a few framed gold records and a poster of himself. Price was not thrilled.
20. In 1973, Vincent Price finally got the chance to share scenes with the man who could be his British counterpart, Peter Cushing, in Madhouse. The two horror stars had missed chances to work together twice before: once when they both appeared in Scream and Scream Again but shared no scenes and then in The Abominable Dr. Phibes when Cushing dropped out to attend to his ailing wife, Helen, while the role of Dr. Vesalius went to Joseph Cotten. Later, Price and Cushing loaned their voices to the radio serial Aliens in the Mind and their voices and bodies to the late-career film House of the Long Shadows, costarring Christopher Lee, a close friend of Price’s who shared his birthday. In a most unusual collaboration, Price and Cushing inspired the name of Roddy McDowall’s vampire-hunter Peter Vincent in Fright Night.