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Vincent Price

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posted by Truus, Bob & Jan too! alias Truus, Bob & Jan too! on Thursday 9th of April 2020 06:51:41 AM

Spanish collectors card in the Coleccion de Artistas de la Pantalla, no. 65. Photo: Warner Bros, The cards were included with the magazine Revista Florita, no. 228. American actor, raconteur, art collector and connoisseur of haute cuisine Vincent Price (1911-1993) was best known for his performances in horror films, although his career spanned other genres, including film noir, drama, mystery, thriller, and comedy. He appeared on stage, television, and radio, and in more than 100 films. Vincent Leonard Price Jr. was born in 1911, in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the youngest of the four children of Vincent Leonard Price Sr., president of the National Candy Company, and his wife Marguerite Cobb (née Wilcox) Price. His grandfather was Vincent Clarence Price who invented "Dr. Price's Baking Powder", the first cream of tartar–based baking powder, and it secured the family's fortune. Price attended the St. Louis Country Day School and Milford Academy in Milford, Connecticut. In 1933, he graduated with a degree in English and a minor in Art History from Yale University, where he worked on the campus humor magazine The Yale Record. After teaching for a year, he entered the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, intending to study for a master's degree in fine arts. Instead, he was drawn to the theatre, first appearing on stage professionally in 1934. His acting career began in London in 1935, performing with Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre. He had a five-play contract, beginning with 'The Shoemaker's Holiday'. In 1936, Price appeared as Prince Albert in the American production of Laurence Housman's play 'Victoria Regina', which starred Helen Hayes in the title role of Queen Victoria. Price started out in films as a character actor. He made his film debut in Service de Luxe (Rowland V. Lee, 1938) opposite Constance Bennett. I.S. Mowis at IMDb: "After that, he reprised his stage role as Master Hammon in an early television production of 'The Shoemaker's Holiday'. For one reason or another, Vincent was henceforth typecast as either historical figures (Sir Walter Raleigh, Duke of Clarence, Mormon leader Joseph Smith, King Charles II, Cardinal Richelieu, Omar Khayyam) or ineffectual charmers and gigolos." He played Joseph Smith in the film Brigham Young (Henry Hathaway, 1940) starring Tyrone Power, and William Gibbs McAdoo in Wilson (Henry King, 1944) as well as Bernadette's prosecutor, Vital Dutour, in The Song of Bernadette (Henry King, 1943), and as a pretentious priest in The Keys of the Kingdom (John M. Stahl, 1944), starring Gregory Peck. Price established himself in the Film Noir Laura (Otto Preminger, 1944), opposite Gene Tierney. His first venture into the horror genre, for which he later became best known, was in the Boris Karloff film Tower of London (Rowland V. Lee, 1939). The following year Price portrayed the title character in The Invisible Man Returns (Joe May, 1940). He reprised this role in a vocal cameo at the end of the horror-comedy spoof Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (Charles Barton, 1948). Price reunited with Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (John M. Stahl, 1945) and Dragonwyck (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1946). There were also many villainous roles in Film Noir thrillers like The Web (Michael Gordon, 1947), The Long Night (Anatole Litvak, 1947) starring Henry Fonda, and The Bribe (Robert Z. Leonard, 1949), with Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Charles Laughton. He was also active in radio, portraying the Robin Hood-inspired crime-fighter Simon Templar in The Saint, which ran from 1947 to 1951. Vincent Price's first starring role was as conman James Addison Reavis in the biopic The Baron of Arizona (Samuel Fuller, 1950). He did a comedic turn as the tycoon Burnbridge Waters, co-starring with Ronald Colman in Champagne for Caesar (Richard Whorf, 1950), one of his favourite film roles. In the 1950s, Price moved into more regular horror film roles with the leading role in House of Wax (Andre DeToth, 1953) as a homicidal sculptor, the first 3-D film to land in the year's top ten at the North American box office. His next roles were The Mad Magician (John Brahm, 1954), the monster movie The Fly (Kurt Neumann, 1958) and its sequel Return of the Fly (Edward Bernds, 1959). That same year, he starred in a pair of thrillers by producer-director William Castle: House on Haunted Hill (1959) as eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren, and The Tingler (1959) as Dr. Warren Chapin, who discovered the titular creature. He appeared in the radio drama Three Skeleton Key, the story of an island lighthouse besieged by an army of rats. He first performed the work in 1950 on Escape and returned to it in 1956 and 1958 for Suspense. Outside the horror realm, Price played Baka (the master builder) in The Ten Commandments (Cecil B. DeMille, 1956). About this time he also appeared in episodes of a number of television shows, including Science Fiction Theatre, Playhouse 90 and General Electric Theater. In the 1960s, Price achieved a number of low-budget filmmaking successes with Roger Corman and American International Pictures (AIP) starting with the House of Usher (1960), which earned over $2 million at the box office in the United States and led to the subsequent Edgar Allan Poe adaptations of The Pit and the Pendulum (1961), Tales of Terror (1962), The Comedy of Terrors (1963), The Raven (1963), The Masque of the Red Death (1964), and The Tomb of Ligeia (1964). He then starred in The Last Man on Earth (Sidney Salkow, Ubaldo B. Ragona, 1964), the first adaptation of the Richard Matheson novel 'I Am Legend' and portrayed witch hunter Matthew Hopkins in Witchfinder General/The Conqueror Worm (Michael Reeves, 1968) set during the English Civil War. He starred in comedy films such as Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) and its sequel Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (Norman Taurog, 1966). In 1968 he played the part of an eccentric artist in the musical Darling of the Day, opposite Patricia Routledge. In the 1960s, Price began his role as a guest on the television game show Hollywood Squares, becoming a semi-regular in the 1970s, including being one of the guest panelists on the finale in 1980. Price made many guest-star appearances in television shows during the decade, including Daniel Boone, Batman, F Troop, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. In 1964, he provided the narration for the Tombstone Historama in Tombstone, Arizona, which is still in operation as of 2016. During the early 1970s, Vincent Price hosted and starred in BBC Radio's horror and mystery series The Price of Fear. He accepted a cameo part in the Canadian children's television program The Hilarious House of Frightenstein (1971) in Hamilton, Ontario on the local television station CHCH. In addition to the opening and closing monologues, his role in the show was to recite poems about various characters, sometimes wearing a cloak or other costumes. Price appeared in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Robert Fuest, 1971), its sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again (Robert Fuest, 1972), and Theatre of Blood (Douglas Hickox, 1973), in which he portrayed one of a pair of serial killers. That same year, he appeared as himself in the TV film Mooch Goes to Hollywood (Richard Erdman, 1971), written by Jim Backus. He was an admirer of the works of Edgar Allan Poe and in 1975 visited the Edgar Allan Poe Museum (Richmond, Virginia), where he had his picture taken with the museum's popular stuffed raven. Price recorded dramatic readings of Poe's short stories and poems, which were collected together with readings by Basil Rathbone. In 1975, Price and his wife Coral Browne appeared together in an international stage adaptation of 'Ardèle' which played in the US as well as in London at the Queen's Theatre. During this run, Browne and Price starred together in the BBC Radio play Night of the Wolf (1975). He greatly reduced his film work from around 1975, as horror itself suffered a slump, and he increased his narrative and voice work, as well as advertising Milton Bradley's Shrunken Head Apple Sculpture. Price provided a monologue for the Alice Cooper song 'Devil's Food' (1975), and he appeared in the corresponding TV special Alice Cooper: The Nightmare. He starred for a year in the early 1970s in the syndicated daily radio program Tales of the Unexplained. He made guest appearances in a 1970 episode of Here's Lucy, showcasing his art expertise, and in a 1972 episode of The Brady Bunch, in which he played a deranged archaeologist. In October 1976, he appeared as the featured guest in an episode of The Muppet Show. In 1977, he began performing as Oscar Wilde in the one-man stage play 'Diversions and Delights', written by John Gay and directed by Joe Hardy and set in a Parisian theatre on a night about one year before Wilde's death. The original tour of the play was a success in every city except for New York City. In the summer of 1979, Price performed the role of Wilde at the Tabor Opera House in Leadville, Colorado, on the same stage from which Wilde had spoken to miners about art some 96 years before. He eventually performed the play worldwide. Victoria Price stated in her biography of her father that several members of Price's family and friends thought that this was his best acting performance. In 1981, Vincent Price played Grover in the original stage musical production of The Monster at the End of This Book: Starring Lovable, Furry Old Grover. In 1982, Price provided the narrator's voice in Vincent, Tim Burton's six-minute film about a young boy who flashes from reality into a fantasy where he is Vincent Price. He appeared as Sir Despard Murgatroyd in a 1982 television production of Gilbert and Sullivan's Ruddigore with Keith Michell as Robin Oakapple. In 1982, Price provided the spoken-word sequence to the end of the Michael Jackson song 'Thriller'. In 1983, he played the Sinister Man in the British spoof horror film Bloodbath at the House of Death (Ray Cameron, 1983). He appeared in House of the Long Shadows (Pete Walker, 1983) with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and John Carradine. He had worked with each of those actors at least once in previous decades, but this was the first time that all had teamed up. One of his last major roles, and one of his favourites, was as the voice of Professor Ratigan in Walt Disney Pictures' The Great Mouse Detective (Ron Clements, Burny Mattinson, Dave Michener, John Musker, 1986). From 1981 to 1989, Price hosted the television series Mystery! In 1984, Price appeared in Shelley Duvall's live-action series Faerie Tale Theatre as the Mirror in 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs', and the narrator for 'The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers'. In 1987, he starred with Bette Davis, Lillian Gish, and Ann Sothern in The Whales of August (Lindsay Anderson, 1987), a story of two sisters living in Maine facing the end of their days. His performance in The Whales of August earned the only award nomination of his career: an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His last significant film work was as the inventor in Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990), starring Johnny Depp. Vincent Price married three times. His first marriage was in 1938 to former actress Edith Barrett; they had one son, the poet and columnist Vincent Barrett Price, and divorced in 1948. Price married Mary Grant in 1949, and they had a daughter, the inspirational speaker Victoria Price (1962), naming her after Price's first major success in the play 'Victoria Regina'. The marriage lasted until 1973. He married Australian actress Coral Browne in 1974, who appeared as one of his victims in Theatre of Blood (Douglas Hickox, 1973). The marriage lasted until her death in 1991. He was supportive of his daughter when she came out as a lesbian, and he was critical of Anita Bryant's anti-gay-rights campaign in the 1970s. He was an honorary board member of PFLAG and among the first celebrities to appear in public service announcements discussing AIDS. His daughter has said that she is "as close to certain as I can be that my dad had physically intimate relationships with men." Price suffered from emphysema, a result of being a lifelong smoker, and Parkinson's disease; his symptoms were especially severe during the filming of Edward Scissorhands, making it necessary to cut his filming schedule short. His illness also contributed to his retirement from Mystery! in 1989. He died, at age 82, of lung cancer in 1993, at UCLA Medical Center. His remains were cremated and his ashes scattered off Point Dume in Malibu, California. The Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College is named in his honour. Sources: I.S. Mowis (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb. And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

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