Despite Vincent Price being irrevocably regarded as one of the most iconic and beloved horror movie actors in the world, he actually got his start as a dramatic actor. His tall, lanky frame and distinctive voice lent themselves nicely to character parts. He appeared on stage, television, radio, and in over one hundred films. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for motion pictures, and one for television. His career spanned many genres, including film noir, drama, horror, mystery, thriller, and comedy.
The “Master of Menace” was born on May 27, 1911, and grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest of four children born to an upper-middle-class family. Price was educated in private schools, studied art history and English at Yale University, and then traveled to England to pursue the fine arts at University of London.
As any fan of classic horror movies knows, the name Vincent Price is synonymous with elegance, humor, and charm. Throughout his over 60-year movie and TV career, Price established himself as one of the most popular actors–beloved by both his fans and his peers.
Price’s remarkable career began on Broadway opposite Helen Hayes and ended in Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands with Johnny Depp. One of Price’s most famous early roles was in the film noir classic Laura (1944) which was directed by Otto Preminger and also starred Gene Tierney.
Price delved into disturbing territory with the 3D hit House of Wax (1953), in which he plays a deranged and disfigured artist who makes wax sculptures using real people. In the 1960s, he appeared in a number of Roger Corman’s low-budget scare-fests. He also starred in several film adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe stories, including The Masque of the Red Death and The Tell-Tale Heart.
Part of Price’s appeal as a villain was the humor he could inject into those sinister roles. His distinctive voice also contributed to his ability to create tension in films. He spoke in rich, deep tones, which sometimes had an eerie and unsettling quality. Price thought nothing of his famous speech patterns. “To me, I sound like everybody else in Missouri. I think I sound like Harry Truman,” he once said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Price enjoyed success in many arenas outside of cinema; he made many television appearances, ranging from The Brady Bunch to Batman to The Muppets. In the 1980s, he hosted the PBS series Mystery. His voice added the ominous air to Michael Jackson’s 1983 Thriller video in an opening monologue.
A lifelong art aficionado, Price wrote several books on his passion. A popular lecturer on art, Price also donated some of his art collection to establish the Vincent Price Gallery at East Los Angeles College. Also a devoted gourmet, Price co-wrote several cookbooks.
About the same time Price was filming Edward Scissorhands, he discovered that he had lung cancer. He died of the disease on October 25, 1993, at his Los Angeles home.