Vincent Price, my hero

vincent-priceWhat can you say about an actor who seems more like an uncle or friend, than an out of reach movie icon. I grew up with Vincent Price. As a child growing up in the 80’s, I could not wait for Saturday night to come so I could see a Vincent Price movie on TV. Even though Vincent Price regularly played a villain, I never saw him that way. Even through a kid’s eyes I saw through each and every character portrayed. You always got the feeling that yes, this character was a “bad guy”, but there was some underlying reason for this. A certain madness, rotten wife, family curse, something that made him that way.

Mr. Price often played a good guy, as in The Fly, Edward Scissorhands, Laura, The Last Man on Earth and the Raven. But oh, were not the roles that he played the villain in, so much more entertaining. Roles in such movies as Theatre of Blood, Dr. Phibes, Madhouse, The TIngler, Masque of the Red Death, Pit and the Pendulum, House on Haunted Hill and my personal favorite. His role as Prof. Henry Jarrod in House of Wax will stand out as a classic of horror for all time. Mr. Price is probably most widely known by the general public for his many roles in Roger Corman films. But as an actor with over 100 films to his credit this is but a small sampling of his great talent and contributions to the film world.

Mr. Price was also a renowned author, chef, art expert, radio personality and host of Mystery Theater on PBS (which I was lucky enough to catch a few of). He loved art so much that he even started his own gallery. The Vincent Price Gallery is located in East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, California.

Prior to his movie career Price joined Orson Wells Mercury Theater for a brief stint, here he claimed everyone in the company had a disagreement with Wells at some point or another. Price’s first movie was “Service De Luxe” in 1938 and he went on to play such diverse historical characters as Raleigh, Clarence, Richelieu, Charles II and the Mormon Joseph Smith. He was also cast in several films as a charming but stern young man, notably in “Laura” 1944 and “The Fly” 1958. The occasional horror role came his way too at this time; he reveled in the old Lionel Atwell part of the demented sculptor in “The House Wax” (1953). This, I think was one of his best films. Price’s niche in the horror genre was carved in 1960 with the classic movie “The Fall of the House of Usher”. To die hard genre fanatics, this film was the beginning of a slew of amazing pictures with Roger Corman. Price did return to the stage in later years. He toured his one man show of Oscar Wilde throughout America for many years to great acclaim.

Vincent Price is best remembered for his roles in horror movies, specifically the Roger Corman adaptations from Edgar Allan Poe. When he passed away I felt that I had truly lost a dear friend. Never again would I hear that great evil laugh, or see that wonderful smirk and twinkle in his eyes. But then, I remembered yes he was an actor, a great actor and artist who remains for all us to enjoy over and over on film. Although he will always be to us loyal fans an inspiration, and guide as to how to live life to the fullest and never once compromise yourself to anyone. Above all else, this is why Vincent Price will always be one of my hero’s.

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