Remembering Actor Vincent Price on His 112th Birthday

Vincent Price: A Versatile Career and Enduring Legacy


On his 112th birthday, we remember the iconic actor Vincent Price and his contributions to the world of film and entertainment. While Price is best known for his performances in horror films, his career spanned various genres, including film noir, dramas, mysteries, thrillers, and comedies. His distinctive voice, towering presence, and ability to portray both gentlemen and villains made him a beloved figure in the industry. Let’s delve into the life and work of this remarkable actor.

Early Life and Education

Vincent Price was born in St. Louis in 1911. His father was the president of a candy-manufacturing company, providing a comfortable upbringing for Price. He attended private schools and developed a passion for art history. As a teenager, he embarked on a grand tour of Europe’s museums, further nurturing his love for the arts. Price went on to earn degrees in art history at Yale and the University of London, establishing a solid foundation for his future endeavors.

A Versatile Performer

Price’s career spanned multiple mediums, including stage, television, radio, and film. He appeared in over 100 films, leaving an indelible mark on each role he portrayed. In his early films, Price often played historical figures, showcasing his versatility as an actor. He portrayed Sir Walter Raleigh in “The Private Lives Of Elizabeth And Essex” (1939), Joseph Smith in “Brigham Young- Frontiersman” (1940), England’s King Charles II in “Hudson’s Bay” (1941), and Cardinal Richelieu in “The Three Musketeers” (1948).

While Price excelled in historical roles, he also showcased his range in other genres. In the film noir classic “Laura” (1944), he played the caddish gigolo, displaying a cynical charm. His portrayal of a murderous aristocrat in “Dragonwyck” (1946) further demonstrated his ability to captivate audiences in diverse roles.

A Revival of Horror and Science Fiction

In 1953, Vincent Price played a pivotal role in the revival of science-fiction and horror films. His portrayal of a cruelly scarred sculptor in “The House Of Wax” not only showcased his talent but also ignited a renewed interest in the genre. Price’s commanding presence and silken voice captivated audiences, solidifying his status as a horror film icon.

Price’s collaboration with director Roger Corman further cemented his legacy in the horror genre. He starred in a series of macabre adaptations of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories, including “The Pit And The Pendulum” (1961) and “The Masque Of The Red Death” (1964). These films, with their Gothic atmosphere and Price’s mesmerizing performances, left an indelible mark on both the genre and the memories of countless viewers.

A Diverse Body of Work

While horror films brought Price widespread recognition, his career extended far beyond the spooky and supernatural. He displayed his comedic talents in films like “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” (1971), where he portrayed the titular character with a gleeful and campy charm. In “The Fly” (1958), Price delivered a nuanced performance as the brother of a scientist who undergoes a horrific transformation. His portrayal in “The Masque Of The Red Death” (1964) showcased his ability to infuse artful depth into his characters.

Price’s immense talent also shone on stage. Starting in 1977, he embarked on a global tour, playing the role of Oscar Wilde in the one-man stage play “Diversions And Delights” by John Gay. His portrayal of Wilde garnered critical acclaim and further solidified his position as a multifaceted performer.

Personal Life and Philanthropy

Despite the fame and success he achieved, Vincent Price remained a humble and dedicated individual. He loved acting and dismissed any notion that his horror film roles were a step down for him as an actor. His passion for his craft was evident in every performance he delivered.

Price was not only an accomplished actor but also a man of many interests. He was an avid art collector and consultant, leveraging his degree in art history to immerse himself in the world of creativity. He lectured and wrote books on the subject, sharing his knowledge and appreciation for art with others.

One of Price’s notable philanthropic contributions was the establishment of the Vincent Price Art Museum in East Los Angeles. This institution serves as a testament to his love for the arts and his desire to make art accessible to all.

A Champion of Equality and Social Justice

Vincent Price was not only a talented actor but also a compassionate and socially conscious individual. He denounced racial and religious prejudice, recognizing it as a form of poison that needed to be actively fought against. His appointment to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board under the Dwight D. Eisenhower administration showcased his dedication to fostering inclusivity and understanding.

Price was also a supporter of Gay Rights, advocating for equality and acceptance. His daughter, Victoria Price, revealed in her biography of her father that he had intimate relationships with men, challenging societal norms and embracing his own truth.

Furthermore, Price was among the first celebrities to appear in public service announcements about HIV/AIDS, using his platform to raise awareness and combat the stigma surrounding the disease.

Legacy and Remembrance

Vincent Price’s impact on the world of entertainment continues to resonate to this day. His unforgettable performances, distinct voice, and ability to seamlessly transition between genres have secured his place in cinematic history. Price’s contributions to horror films, in particular, have left an enduring legacy, inspiring generations of filmmakers and actors.

As we celebrate Vincent Price on his 112th birthday, let us remember not only his talent but also his dedication to his craft, his philanthropic endeavors, and his unwavering commitment to equality and social justice. Vincent Price will forever be remembered as a versatile performer and a true icon of the silver screen.