104 Reasons to Love Vincent Price on His 104th Birthday
103. Vincent Price worked with everyone from Errol Flynn to Johnny Depp, from Lillian Gish to Diana Rigg, from Dick Dale to Alice Cooper to Michael Jackson. He worked for Orson Welles, Howard Hughes and Walt Disney.
102. Although primarily known for his roles in horror films, Vincent Price had a fruitful career in 1940s film noir, including classics of the genre Laura and Leave Her to Heaven. Before embarking on a career in horror, Price also appeared in costume dramas, comedies, war films, and even religious films (playing founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith in the 1940 film Brigham Young).
101. His semi-regular guest stints in the 1970s on the game show “Hollywood Squares”.
100. This photo of Vincent Price being absolutely done with your shit, in Madhouse (1974).
99. He provided the voice of January Q. Irontail in the 1971 Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated Easter special, “Here Comes Peter Rabbit.” It’s a lip-smackingly evil performance, full of hearty, villainous laughter.
98. Price lent his likeness to this board game version of Hangman (“a classic American game for two”), because when you have a morbid brand, why not exploit it?
97. In 1955, Price guest-starred on What in the World?, an educational quiz show hosted by a museum director named Dr. Froelich Rainey (really), where the panelists have to guess the nature of a series of bizarre archeological artifacts. Click here to watch a bunch of guys in bow ties look very attentively at a rock, and think about how this was broadcast on American television.
96. After decades of fame in movies and television, Vincent Price returned to the stage in the one-man play “Diversions & Delights,” portraying Oscar Wilde. Price received the best reviews of his career and considered it his finest achievement in acting.
95. The fact that Vincent Price has become so synonymous with Halloween, there are multiple Vincent Price Jack-o-Lantern patterns.
94. The man knew how to throw an absolutely killer party.
93. Price starred in a movie about taking LSD in 1959, years before counterculture icons became using it for their hallucinogenic properties and a full nine years before it became illegal in the U.S. But the fact that William Castle’s The Tingler was the first film to depict LSD drug use is arguably the least crazy thing about it.
92. The Tingler takes as its premise the idea that spine-tingling chills are actually a result of a parasitic creature in the body tightening its grip on the spine, and it can only be “loosened” and fought off by screaming, which detaches the creature from the spine and saves the host’s life. Price plays the unscrupulous scientist who discovers the Tingler and then must stop it when it begins attacking his friends.
91. In one scene, Price’s character Dr. Chapin injects himself with LSD to invoke a state of panic, thus hoping to “discover” the Tingler inside of him. Here we have some of the finest horror scream-acting ever captured on film.
90. Besides Vincent Price’s epic LSD trip (“The walls!!”), The Tingler is most noteworthy for the special in-theater effects William Castle employed to heighten the terror of the film. During Price’s trip, for example, theaters projected trippy lights and colors onto the screen to evoke drug hallucinations. Many theaters were wired with “Percepto,” the famous Castle gimmick that “buzzed” theater seats with a small motors meant to mirror the tingling of the monster. “Scream! Scream for your lives!”
89. Although now primarily remembered for his roles as an older, distinguished horror icon, let it be known that the young Vincent Price was something of a low-key babe.
88. Like in the 1944 film noir classic Laura.
87. Or in the 1946 period drama Dragonwyck.
86. Or this totally babely moment from Leave Her to Heaven (1946).
85. Comic book creators Stan Lee and Steve Ditko modeled the superhero Doctor Strange on Vincent Price.
84. This absolutely chilling performance of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.”
83. Price’s uncanny ability to rock a multitude of facial hair styles and look suave in all of them. From the barely-there pencil thin mustache of youth…
82. ...to the iconic “debonair (but slightly evil) gentleman” look of classic ‘50s horror movie Price.
81. The urbane, beard/goatee/mustache combo.
80. And of course, the three days’ growth with crazy eyes look.
79. “Hello, I’m Butch!”
78. His expressive eyebrows.
77. His expressive lack of eyebrows.
76. Price always added a little extra oomph to even the driest films. Lacking the usual juicy camp of his horror movie roles, Vincent decided to spice up Cecil B. DeMille’s Biblical epic The Ten Commandments (1956) by making it very, very... um, sultry?
75. He starred in the movie with the best tagline of all-time.
74. His decades-long friendship with fellow horror icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In this video, Christopher Lee gives a heartfelt reminiscence about playing chess with Price.
73. Price even toasted his friend Christopher Lee in an episode of “This Is Your Life,” where he tells the story of a fellow airplane passenger mistaking him for the Dracula actor. (For the record, that episode of “This Is Your Life” was recorded in 1974.)
72. He was also good friends with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
71. But one of his most enduring friendships was with a dog named Joe. Price loved his dog so much, he wrote a book about him called, appropriately, The Book of Joe.
70. This totally sick burn from The House on Haunted Hill (1959).
69. The fact that Vincent Price was so awesome in The House on Haunted Hill, when the powers that be decided to remake the film in 1999 they named Geoffrey Rush’s character Price and styled him to look exactly like his namesake.
68. Price’s wide-ranging filmography reveals he was directed by some of the finest film directors in Hollywood history, including: Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger, Michael Curtiz, Samuel Fuller, Fritz Lang, Anthony Mann, Cecil B. DeMille and Alfred Hitchcock.
67. This photo of Vincent Price strangling Alfred Hitchcock .
66. He provided the English language narration on the Haunted Manor attraction at Disneyland Paris.
65. Vincent Price was extremely comfortable with animals on-screen and co-starred with many of them. Like in The Three Musketeers (1948), where he played a sinister, cat-stroking Cardinal Richelieu.
64. Or during the publicity tour for Tales of Terror (1962), where he and Peter Lorre posed with a bunch of adorable black cats for their Edgar Allen Poe-inspired segment, “The Black Cat.”
63. But he was also a frequent friend of the birds, like in the 1950 comedy Champagne for Caesar, which gave us this incomparable image of Vincent Price with a parrot on his head.
62. Or the time in The Raven (1963) where he spent the first five minutes of the movie talking to a bird (or rather, to himself). And it was completely magical.
61. In his later years, Vincent Price shilled for a bunch of weird products. But unlike a lot of celebrity endorsements, which give off the sad, dissipated stink of desperation, Price’s ads were always charming, cheeky and fun. Like this one for wine coolers (of all things!).
60. Or this ad for Polaroid video cassettes (three words that don’t mean anything anymore) which gives the impression that Vincent Price has taken up permanent residence in a castle with little more than a few candelabras and a VHS player for company.
59. And then there’s this classic ad for children’s vitamins. Spooky!
58. Typically remembered for his outrageous monster characters and mad scientists, some of Price’s most evil roles were playing real people. In The Baron of Arizona (1950), Price plays James Reavis, a notorious fraud who in the 1870s forged documents to claim he had land ownership over pre-statehood Arizona and collected millions of dollars on fraudulent investments. Price is perfectly supercilious in the role, a slimy snake-oil salesman for the ages.
57. Before Charleton Heston was The Omega Man or Will Smith was Legend, Vincent Price starred in the first big screen adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel I Am Legend, in The Last Man On Earth (1964). Unlike some of the broader horror-comedies Prince made in the ‘60s, this film features a chillingly realistic performance that strikes a chord of real terror and isolation. It’s one of Price’s best roles.
56. He was the voice of the villainous Professor Ratigan in Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective...
55. …which resulted in this charming 75th birthday party photo.
54. “RATIGAN. Oh, Ratigan. The world’s greatest criminal mind!”
53. Speaking of Vincent Price singing, did you know he did a version of the perennial Halloween party classic, “Monster Mash”? Of course he did.
52. As a young actor in New York, Vincent Price was briefly a member of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater company.
51. That time Price was the guest on “What’s My Line?” and tried to conceal his identity with a terrible French accent.
50. That time Vincent Price had to fight off a giant fly…
49. ...and that other time he was being haunted by a bat. (Must’ve been an infestation!)
48. That time he sat around reading Variety in a coffin with Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre.
47. He gave one of the all-time best horror movie screams in the campy 1974 film Madhouse.
46. This photo of Vincent Price playing soccer, dressed like a nun.
45. In addition to being a low-key babe, Vincent Price was also something of a low-key fashion icon. I mean, the man really knew how to wear a cape.
44. These outrageous pink tights in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex(1939)? Slayed.
43. And these sweet, 19th century shades.
42. Bleach blonde hair and crushed red velvet frock coat? Not a forgiving look, but Vincent Price makes it work in House of Usher (1960).
41. ...And whatever this is? Killin’ it.
40. This video of a 77-year old Vincent Price riding roller coasters at Magic Mountain and having a blast.
39. Seriously, look at this man. Delightful!
38. Even Stephen Fry is a fan.
37. Once, as a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, Vincent Price gave a live demonstration on how to cook a fish in the dishwasher. The key to “Dishwasher Fish” is lemon, and an acute absence of dish soap.
36. Vincent Price starred in one of the first feature films to use stereoscopic 3D, 1954’s House of Wax. Price played—what else—an unscrupulous professor turned murderous burn victim who sculpts his victims into wax figures for his museum. Typecast again!
35. As the vengeful murderer in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), Price enacted a series of gruesome slayings based on the Biblical ten plagues of Egypt…
34. ...a concept that proved so successful, he more or less remade the movie two years later in Theatre of Blood (this time with the plagues substituted for Shakespearean plays).
33. He could be a world-class ham, like in Tales of Terror (1963).
32. One of Price’s (best) hammiest performances is in the comedy-drama-film noir His Kind of Woman (1951), in which he plays a scenery-chewing actor (of course) stuck at a Mexican resort hotel with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell.
31. In one great scene, Price’s character gets very indignant about the lack of help the Mexican police are giving Mitchum during a shootout with the bad guys…
30. ...which leads to Price himself setting out in pursuit of said bad guys….
29. ...only for the boat to sink.
28. Well done, Vincent!
27. He played Egghead on the ‘60s TV version of Batman, the villain who dresses like an egg (in white and yellow), has an egg-shaped head, slings egg-related puns (“Egg-cellent!”) and uses egg-shaped weapons like the tear gas egg (collected from hens fed a diet of onions).
26. That time he shot Boris Karloff with fingertip lasers while casually wearing a turban.
25. Long an inspiration to goths and dark weirdos the world over, Vincent Price reached the apex of goth god-ness with his guest monologue on the Alice Cooper track “The Black Widow” off the album Welcome to My Nightmare and the subsequent guest-starring role on the TV special for that album, The Nightmare.
24. He had the greatest maniacal laughter in the world.
23. This photo of Vincent Price clowning around with naked ladies.
22. In 1982, Tim Burton was a 23-year old lowly animator at Walt Disney Studios, working on movies he felt no connection with and dreaming of an imagined world from his childhood full of dark shadows, canted angles and brilliant, tortured mad scientists. It was the world of Vincent Price. Burton’s six minute, stop-motion animation short Vincent is as much an homage to the life and career of Vincent Price as it is a whimsical evocation of childhood. Of course, Vincent Price narrates the short film and it is among his most elegant work.
21. Price’s collaboration with Tim Burton led to one of Vincent’s most memorable roles, and sadly his last on-screen, as The Inventor in Edward Scissorhands (1990). Although Price was very ill while filming, his gentleness and warmth in the small role that was written specifically for him sets the tone for the entire film.
20. As if being an iconic actor and beloved screen personality was not enough, Vincent Price was also a gourmet chef. The cookbook he wrote with his second wife Mary in 1965, A Treasury of Great Recipes, is now considered a classic of the genre.
19. He also hosted his own cooking show on UK television in the 1970s calledCooking Price-Wise. No kidding. Here is his recipe for roast pork with prunes. “I love a good pork sandwich!”
18. From A Treasury of Great Recipes, Vincent Price’s recipe for hot dogs (or “Western Franks,” as he calls them) sounds outrageously delicious. Price waxing poetic about the simple goodness of a ballpark frank will make you weep with patriotic pride:
17. Of course, no meal of hot dogs would be complete without a nice bottle of wine. Like any good cook, Vincent Price was a wine aficionado, so much so that you can now buy Vincent Price wine. Salut!
16. According to actor Alan Bates, while at dinner with Price and his wife Coral Browne, a woman approached Vincent for an autograph, which he signed “Dolores Del Rio.” Bates told Price he was bound to upset the woman, to which Price replied: “Before she died, Dolores said to me, 'Don't ever let them forget me'; so now I always sign Dolores Del Rio.”
15. He guest-starred on the 1977 Halloween episode of The Muppet Show...
14. ...resulting in the cutest gif of all-time.
13. And he continued his Muppet friendship when Kermit the Frog subbed in for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.
12. One of the most unusual and most viscerally terrifying performances in Price’s career was in Witchfinder General (1968) as real-life 17th century witch hunter Matthew Hopkins. Price is at his icy best as the unrelenting and unremorseful Hopkins, an intolerant religious extremist and bona fide sadist who tortured and killed countless civilians during the English Civil War. The film itself is as brutal and unflinching as Price’s career-best performance.
11. This photo of Vincent Price dancing with a skeleton on the set of The House on Haunted Hill (1959).
10. In one of his many books, Price joked about writing a new cookbook in which the recipes will all be named after famous people: “Barbecued Walters,” “Brisket of Brynner” and “Fricassee of Fonzi.”
9. Vincent Price’s bawdy roast of Bette Davis. “It’s true that many reviewers have knocked Bette—but that’s how you measure a great star: by her knockers.”
8. Price’s iconic on-screen persona has resulted in some wonderful parodies, including on Sesame Street as the host of “Mysterious Theater” Vincent Twice(Vincent Twice!) …
7. On The Simpsons …
6. And perhaps most memorably, as a Bill Hader impression on Saturday Night Live, where “Vincent Price’s Halloween Special” stands as one of the best sketches in the show’s recent history.
5. Price, who studied art history at Yale, was a life-long art collector and connoisseur. After Yale, he attended the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and helped found the Modern Institute of Art in Beverly Hills in the 1940s. Price was a particular advocate for and fan of American Indian art, and in the 1950s he was appointed to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board by President Eisenhower.
4. Vincent Price was so well-known as a collector and fine arts enthusiast that in the 1960s he became the de facto face of fine art appreciation in the United States. He frequently talked about the joys of art collecting on talk shows, and in 1962 Price partnered with Sears-Roebuck to produce and curate “The Vincent Price Collection of Fine Art,” which featured reproductions of works by masters like Rembrandt, Dali, and Picasso for affordable prices. In this instructional film made for Sears employees, Price himself gives a tour of the collection, bragging about the accessibility of a Goya for $35 a pop. What a bargain!
3. Apart from bringing great works of art into the living rooms of America, Vincent Price made an even more significant impact on the Los Angeles art scene. Price and his second wife Mary amassed a huge private collection of art during their marriage, and in 1957 they began donating pieces to East Los Angeles College. The Prices ended up donating 2,000 pieces of art, and their collection on the ELAC campus is now known as The Vincent Price Art Museum, a massive, 3-story building housing a collection worth over an estimated $5 million.
2. In a 1950 episode of the radio show The Saint, Price delivered a monologue warning against racial and religious prejudice as “poisons” that corrupt American society. Price, one of Hollywood’s most staunchly liberal Democrats, concluded the broadcast with this message: “Remember, freedom and prejudice can’t exist side by side. If you choose freedom, fight prejudice.” Right on, Vincent.
1. “Thriller.” (Did you really think it’d be anything but “Thriller”?) It only took Vincent Price two takes to nail the iconic narration and chilling, cacophonous laugh in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” While you’re at it, check out this isolated audio track of Price recording the Thriller monologue with Michael Jackson in-studio. “Can you dig it?!”