Vincent Price is considered by many to be the king of horror. Along with greats like Boris Karloff, Price dominated the screen in any role he chose to play, whether it was a mad scientist or an invisible man. His iconic voice, pencil-thin mustache, and that dastardly eye-brow-raise still strike fear and joy in fans today, of which there are many. Once you get on the Price train, it’s hard to get off. Buckle in: here are 40 hair-raising facts about Vincent Price.
1. Like Father Unlike Son
Price’s grandfather secured the family fortune by inventing the first cream of tartar-based baking powder. He sold this under the name Dr. Price’s Baking Powder. On top of that, his father owned the National Candy Company. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill for young Price!
2. Monster Aboard the Mayflower
One of Price’s ancestors was the first white child born in Massachusetts, as he was born aboard the Mayflower when it landed in Provincetown Harbor.
3. Smart Man Knows Nothing
Before becoming a world-renowned actor, Vincent Price attended Yale University. He even taught there after graduating. The actor quit after a year, however, saying, “I had the extraordinary experience of finding out that I knew nothing.”
4. Commercial Success
Vincent Price is most well known for his roles in horror movies, but many don’t know that he also had a soft spot for commercials later in his career. He did ads for Tilex, the board game Stay Alive, a brand of peanut butter, and Chips Ahoy! Cookies, just to name a few.
5. Good Diversion
The actor’s original plan was to attend the University of London for a master’s degree, but he just couldn’t stay away from the theatre. He decided to become an actor and never looked back, appearing first in a stage production of Chicago.
6. 3D? That’s Old News
House of Wax, one of Price’s most well-known films, was the second 3D film released by a major Hollywood studio. It came just two days after Man in the Dark, the first major 3D film.
7. You Make My Spine Tingle
The Tingler starred Price as a doctor who discovers a parasite that eats fear and attaches itself to peoples’ spines. It has some bizarre attributes. Not only is it the first instance of LSD appearing in a film, but It was a “4D” experience. At one point in the film, some seats would begin to vibrate as if the tingler itself was latching onto your spine. I wonder how many run-outs that caused.
8. First Spooky Steps
Price’s first steps into the horror world were in the film Tower of London with fellow horror actor Boris Karloff. Price played the Duke of Clarence.
9. Screaming Over the Airwaves
The radio world was also very friendly to Vincent Price. He was given his own BBC Radio horror series in the 70s called The Price of Fear, and before that played a crime-fighter on the radio show The Saint.
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10. Le Aaaah!
One of Price’s defining factors was his voice, and Disneyland France seemed to notice this. They decided to hire Price to record the narration for the ride Phantom Manor. However, this wasn’t used too long, because they needed French narration. Price’s evil laugh is all that remains during the ride.
11. Monster, Meet Monsters
The Muppets gang welcomed Price onto the show in a special 1970s Halloween episode! In the episode, Price has a chat with Kermit about being a vampire, does some cooking, and acts as the host of a haunted house. It’s certainly a different sort of monster movie than Price was used to!
12. Cooper & Price
Price was a fan of Alice Cooper, and appeared twice with the iconic rock star. He can be heard speaking on the intro to Cooper’s Welcome to My Nightmare, and appears in Cooper’s TV special Alice Cooper: The Nightmare.
13. Big-Time Numbers
Vincent Price has acted in over 200 productions including TV and film according to his IMDB page. That’s a pretty epic career!
14. Monster (Birthday) Mash
Price shares a birthday with fellow master-of-horror Christopher Lee—May 27. Peter Cushing, another horror actor, has his birthday only one day earlier. Maybe Halloween should be moved to May.
15. The Egg-citing Egg-Head
One of Price’s most underrated roles has to be Egghead from the 1960s Batman series. Egghead’s main attributes are that he has a big, bald head and makes egg-related puns. His weapons are also all egg-shaped. This may have been an egg-ceptionally strange role for Price, but I’m certainly glad he took a crack at it.
16. The Lighter Side of Price
There are a number of cooking books published by Price, who was said to be an excellent gourmet chef. The majority of these books were written with his wife, and their success lead to Price’s own cooking show, Cooking Price-Wise with Vincent Price. It ran for six weeks.
17. Dr. Price
Marvel Comics took inspiration from Price for one of their most well-known characters. He influenced the look of superhero Doctor Strange. From his pencil-thin moustache to slicked-back hair, the resemblance is obvious in retrospect.
18. Cut Content
One of Price’s last roles was in Edward Scissorhands, in which he played a mad scientist. Classic. The role was meant to be longer, but Price was suffering from health problems during shooting and had to take it easy.
19. Two-Star Actor
Price has been awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to television and film. And some actors can’t even get one!
20. Those Who Can’t Paint, Collect
Did you know that Vincent Price was a major art collector? The Vincent Price Art Museum was named after the man himself for donating parts of his collection to its halls. The museum is in East Lost Angeles, and features over 9,000 pieces of art.
21. I’ll Write it Myself
Price wasn’t impressed after reading the first script for his film Madhouse. In fact, he was so unimpressed he had to pressure the producers into bringing in a new writer and changing large portions of the script, including a lot of Price’s dialogue. That must have been one terrible script.
22. Thrilling Discovery
Price’s voice famously appears in Michael Jackson’s song “Thriller.” One thing you may not know is that there was a whole verse cut from this recording, including the lines: “The demons squeal in sheer delight / It’s you they spy, so plump, so right / For though the groove is hard to beat / Yet still you stand with frozen feet.”
23. Price for the People
Price was an outspoken Democrat and liberal. On the radio show The Saint, he once spoke against racism and religious prejudices, saying, “Remember, freedom and prejudice can’t exist side by side. If you choose freedom, fight prejudice.” We could use more Price’s today.
24. The Sears Collection
In the 60s, Price teamed up with Sears to find and sell great works of art by renowned artists. He was a collector of fine art, and this turned out to be very profitable for the company. They sold more than 50,000 original artworks, with the program running for nearly 10 years.
25. Who’s Bette?
After acclaimed actress Dolores Del Rio passed, Price started signing her name when fans asked for autographs. When asked why, Price said: "I promised Dolores on her deathbed that I would not let people forget about her." This probably made a few fans of Price angry, but the reason is so touching, it’s hard to stay mad at the guy.
26. Is That Gourmet?
On an episode of Johnny Carson, Price once showed the audience how to cook a fish in a dishwasher. Sound tasty? You can watch the whole thing online, and while it doesn’t seem like a very efficient way of cooking fish, it certainly… works.
27. The Monster Mash Redux
Capitalizing on that iconic spooky voice, Price once recorded his own version of the Monster Mash! Price’s voice is extremely fitting for the song, making it one of the best renditions.
28. I Am Vincent
Many probably know the Will Smith version of I Am Legend as the ultimate adaptation of the novel. But Price actually starred in an adaptation long before, called The Last Man on Earth. Not only is this one of Price’s finest roles, but it’s considered by many to be the best adaptation of the story ever filmed.
Price believed his best achievement in acting was in the play Diversions & Delights, where he played Oscar Wilde. The show quickly went to Broadway, and Price received critical acclaim for this role, really showing his talents on the stage.
30. What a Character
Price began his acting career as a character actor, and continued to do character work when he wasn’t spooking people silly. One of his more interesting roles was Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith. The film flopped but proved one of Price’s more diverse roles.
One monster Price never played was Dracula, but he did play a vampire in the short-lived comedy series F-Troop. In the episode, he plays Count Sforza, a classic-looking vampire in a red cloak and black suit, who moves into town from Transylvania. Price kills it in this comedic and spooky role, considered a highlight of the series.
32. Scary Love
During the filming of his film Theatre of Blood, Price was introduced to co-star Coral Browne, who he eventually married. She wasn’t a fan of horror movies but took the role because of its strong cast. I’m sure it’s a role she never regretted.
33. Tiny Toon, Big Star
One of Price’s last roles was in the cartoon Tiny Toon Adventures, where he played Edgar Allan Poe. In the episode, Price provides narration for a version of The Raven, Poe’s classic story.
34. The Invisible Actor
In The Invisible Man Returns, Price plays a man who is, well, invisible for the majority of the film. Although he doesn’t appear on screen much because of this, the movie acts as a testament to the power of Price’s voice. He leads the film with his unmistakable voice throughout. If Price was around today, he would probably make the most beautiful ASMR videos in existence.
35. Flying High
David Cronenberg’s adaptation of The Fly is the most famous version, but much like with I Am Legend, Price did it first. This adaptation is much less “gross”, for lack of a better term, than Cronenberg’s, but features a really great giant fly mask.
36. Corman and Poe
Vincent Price was a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, and worked on many adaptations of Poe’s work. These were all directed by filmmaker Roger Corman, and include the films The Raven, The Haunted Palace, The Masque of the Red Death, and Pit and the Pendulum. Talk about a dream come true.
37. Screaming With Laughter
One of the best things about Price was his ability to make people both scream and laugh. He appeared in a number of comedies, including one pretty zany cult film called Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. The film is a spoof of James Bond movies and sees Price playing a mad scientist—of course—who builds a gang of sexy robot women to rob rich men. It may not be the typical Price role, but it’s now considered a low budget cult classic. The film even received a sequel!
38. Terrifying Your TV
Price appeared in a lot of the biggest shows of the time through the 70s and 80s, including Get Smart, Colombo, and The Brady Bunch. His stint on The Brady Bunch lasted three episodes, featuring Price as a strange professor who kidnaps the Brady boys for a little while. It seems like a bit of a strange show for Price, but the role definitely fits.
39. Star-Struck by Each Other
Tim Burton owes a lot to Price. Before getting him to play a role in Edward Scissorhands, Price became the subject of a stop-motion short film by Burton called Vincent. Price narrated the film, which was based on his life. He later said that the short was: "the most gratifying thing that ever happened.”
40. World’s Best Dad
Not only did Price support race relations, but he was also an outspoken supporter of the LGBT movement. When his daughter came out to him as a lesbian he was nothing but accepting. He spoke out against an anti-gay campaign run by Anita Bryant and became an honorary member of PFLAG. Price also publicly discussed the AIDS crisis and his daughter once noted that she is almost "certain" that her father had "physically intimate relationships with men."