Vincent Leonard Price Jr. was born on May 27, 1911, in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of the National Candy Company's
president, and the youngest of four children. He was educated and spent his childhood in the city, going, for many years,
to a school that his own mother had helped found. Unlike his other contemporaries, he was not immediately smitten with
the idea of becoming an actor. Far from it; his original goal was to be an artist; however, he quickly learned that he
had little talent in such a field, and concentrated then on becoming an art historian. A loner for much of his childhood,
he often visited the St. Louis Museum and stared at the various works of art, inspiring him to hoard money, and he
eventually built up a small private collection of minor sketches by the time he was a teenager. It was the beginning of
a life-long love of the "world of man's creation - art". During these formative years, young Price also developed interests
in everything from cooking to Native American culture. As he so aptly put it, "A man who limits his interests, limits his
After signing a contract with Universal, Price made his screen debut in 1938 in "Service De Luxe". After that, he went on to a number of showy parts in movies like James Whale's "Green Hell", "Laura", "The Song of Bernadette", "Hudson's Bay", "The House of Seven Gables" and "Brigham Young - Frontiersman" through the decade. On August 30, 1940, he became the proud father of one Vincent Barrett Price. However, by 1944, he and Edith had become legally separated, and, after a brief reconciliation, they divorced in 1948. Only about a year later, he revealed that he was now married again, this time to costume designer Mary Grant. Together the two would found the Vincent Price Gallery on the campus of the East Los Angeles College in 1951. The gallery still operates even to this day, and has done much to introduce it's founders' love of art to new generations.
The 1950's brought Price to the attention of, of all things, the United States government and the House Committee on Un-American Activities. His affiliation with organizations that later turned out to have Communist influences, a snafu involving passports, and then the mysterious, unexplained dropping of him from a TV program called "Pantomime Quiz", made him suspect to a scandal. He voluntarily requested a meeting with the FBI, where he firmly denied any knowledge or sympathy towards Communist parties or causes. The G-men found him to be candid and forthright, and confirmed his denial of any wrongdoing.
Throughout the decade he appeared in a variety of films, television programs and plays, including "The Ten Commandments", but in 1953 he accepted a role that would change the course of his career - "House of Wax", about the sculptor Jarrod, hideously deformed in an act of arson, returning from supposed death for revenge. The picture was a huge success, and he followed it up with "The Mad Magician" the same year. However, it wasn't until later in the decade that he started making horror pictures in full-force. Beginning in 1958, he starred in five horror/sci-fi films in the space of just two years (in William Castle's "House on Haunted Hill" and "The Tingler", Fox's "The Fly" and "Return of the Fly", and "The Bat"). With that, he went on to star in the famous Edgar Alan Poe chillers of AIP, with such minor classics as "House of Usher", "Pit and the Pendulum", "The Raven" and "The Haunted Palace", and in camp items like "Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs". It was these films that stamped him as a "horror star", even though he continued to accept a variety of different roles (of his total screen output, only about 30% is horror).
On April 27, 1962, Price was blessed with a second child - a girl by the name of Mary Victoria. The birth seemed to rejuvenate him, but the quality of his film work was beginning to deteriorate. His contract with AIP prohibited him from horror pictures with other companies, and the studio was increasingly casting him in disappointments like "War-Gods of the Deep", "Cry of the Banshee" and "Madhouse". Despite creating some of his most memorable roles as Dr. Phibes in "The Abominable Dr. Phibes", Edward Lionheart in "Theater of Blood" and Matthew Hopkins in "The Conqueror Worm", he was getting rather fed up with not only American-International, but with Hollywood itself. After taking refuge in England briefly, and when it was revealed that he was madly in love with actress Coral Browne, Mary Grant sued for divorce and got it. Shortly thereafter, her ex-husband wed Coral at a county courthouse.
In his later years, Price continued to act regularly, but he also found a new interest in rock 'n' roll, helping with music
videos like Michael Jackson's "Thriller". Price himself was a big fan of "good" rock 'n' roll. He was also a chef on
television for many years, and wrote and published quite a few books, including "Joe", "The Michelangelo Bible", "Drawings
of Delacroix", "The Come Into the Kitchen Cook Book" and "A Treasury of Great Recipes". Even when diagnosed with the
Parkinson's disease that would eventually help end his life, Price kept working. Coral Browne died in 1991 from breast
cancer; her husband was so sick he couldn't even attend the funeral service. Vincent Price, the "King of the Grand
Guignol" finally succumbed to a combination of Parkinson's and lung cancer on October 25, 1993. He was given a warm farewell at a
memorial service nearly a month later, with hors d'oeuvres from his favorite restaurant and an emotional reminiscence from