Vincent Leonard Price Jr. (May 27, 1911 – October 25, 1993) was an American actor best known for his performances in horror films, although his career spanned other genres. He appeared on stage, television, and radio, and in more than 100 films. He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, one for motion pictures and one for television.
His first film role was as leading man in the 1938 comedy Service de Luxe. Price became well known as a character actor, appearing in films such as The Song of Bernadette (1943), Laura (1944), The Keys of the Kingdom (1944), Leave Her to Heaven (1945), Dragonwyck (1946), and The Ten Commandments (1956). He established himself as a recognizable horror-movie star after his leading role in House of Wax (1953). He subsequently starred in other successful or cult horror films, including The Fly (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1959), The Tingler (1959), The Last Man on Earth (1964), Witchfinder General (1968), The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), and Theatre of Blood (1973). He was particularly known for his collaborations with Roger Corman on Edgar Allan Poeadaptations such as House of Usher(1960), The Pit and the Pendulum(1961), and The Masque of the Red Death (1964). Price occasionally appeared on television series, such as in Batman as Egghead.
In his later years, he voiced the villainous Professor Ratigan in Disney's classic animated film The Great Mouse Detective (1986), and appeared in the drama The Whales of August (1987), which earned him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Malenomination and Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990), his last theatrical release. For his contributions to cinema, especially to genre films, he has received lifetime achievement or special tribute awards from Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films, Fantasporto, Bram Stoker Awards, and Los Angeles Film Critics Association.
Price narrated several animation films,
radio dramas and documentaries, as well as the monologue on Michael Jackson's song "Thriller". For his voice work in Great American Speeches (1959), he was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
Price was also an art collector and arts consultant, with a degree in art history, and he lectured and wrote books on the subject. The Vincent Price Art Museumat East Los Angeles College is named in his honor. He was also a noted gourmet cook.
Early life and career
Price was born on May 27, 1911, in St. Louis, Missouri, 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 was of Welsh and English descent and was a descendant of Peregrine White, the first white child born in colonial Massachusetts, being born on the Mayflower while it was in Provincetown Harbor.
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 theater, first appearing on stage professionally in 1934. His acting career began in London in 1935, performing with Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre.
Introduction to film roles
Price started out in films as a character actor. He made his film debut in Service de Luxe (1938), and established himself in the film Laura (1944), opposite Gene Tierney, directed by Otto Preminger. He played Joseph Smith in the movie Brigham Young (1940) and William Gibbs McAdoo in Wilson (1944), as well as Bernadette's prosecutor, Vital Dutour, in The Song of Bernadette (1943), and as a pretentious priest in The Keys of the Kingdom (1944).
His first venture into the horror genre, for which he later became best known, was in the Boris Karloff film Tower of London (1939). The following year, Price portrayed the title character in The Invisible Man Returns (a role he reprised in a voice-only cameo in the closing scene of the horror-comedy spoof Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein released in 1948).  Price reunited with Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (1945) and Dragonwyck (1946). He also had many villainous roles in film noir thrillers such as The Web (1947), The Long Night(1947), Rogues' Regiment (1948), and The Bribe (1949), with Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Charles Laughton.
Play media House on Haunted Hill (full film)
His first starring role was as con man James Reavis in the biopic The Baron of Arizona (1950). He did a comedic turn as the tycoon Burnbridge Waters, co-starring with Ronald Colman in Champagne for Caesar (also 1950), one of his favorite film roles.
He was active in radio, portraying the Robin Hood-inspired crime-fighter Simon Templar in The Saint, which ran from 1947 to 1951. In the 1950s, Price moved into more regular horror-film roles with the leading role in House of Wax (1953) as a homicidal sculptor, the first three-dimensional film to land in the year's top 10 at the North American box office. His next roles were The Mad Magician(1954), the monster movie The Fly (1958), and its sequel Return of the Fly(1959). That same year, he starred in two thrillers by producer-director William Castle: House on Haunted Hill as eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren, and The Tingler 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 released in 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 1955–56 television season, he was cast three times on the religion anthology series Crossroads. In the 1955 episode "Cleanup", Price portrayed the Reverend Robert Russell. In 1956, he was cast as Rabbi Gershom Mendes Seixas in "The Rebel", and as the Rev. Alfred W. Price in "God's Healing".
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 starred in The Last Man on Earth (1964), the first adaptation of the Richard Matheson novel I Am Legend, and portrayed witch hunter Matthew Hopkins in Witchfinder General (US: The Conqueror Worm, 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 (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 semiregular 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 The Red Skelton Show, Daniel Boone, F Troop, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He had a recurring role in the Batman TV series as the villain Egghead from 1966 to 1967. In 1964, he provided the narration for the Tombstone Historama in Tombstone, Arizona, which was still in operation as of 2016. He also starred as the host of the Australian TV series If These Walls Could Speak, in which a short history of a historical building (supposedly narrated by the building itself) was covered, and as the narrating voice of the building.
During the early 1970s, Price h