Vincent Price


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, including film noir, drama, mystery, thriller, and comedy. 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. He was born and raised near St. Louis, Missouri. He 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 Museum at East Los Angeles College is named in his honor.He was also a noted gourmet cook.

Price started out in films as a character actor. He made his film debut in Service de Luxe (1938) and established himself in Otto Preminger‘s Laura (1944), opposite Gene Tierney. He played Joseph Smith in Henry Hathaway‘s Brigham Young (1940) and William Gibbs McAdoo in Wilson (1944) as well as Bernadette’s prosecutor, Vital Dutour, in The Song of Bernadette (1943), both directed by Henry King; 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 Rowland V. Lee’s Tower of London (1939), starring Basil Rathbone and Boris Karloff. The following year Price portrayed the title character in The Invisible Man Returns (a role he reprised in a vocal cameo at the end of the horror-comedy spoof Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein released in 1948, featuring Lon Chaney Jr. and Bela Lugosi).

Price reunited with Tierney in John M. Stahl’s Leave Her to Heaven (1945) and Jospeh L. Mankiewicz‘s Dragonwyck (1946), with Walter Huston. There were also many villainous roles in film noir thrillers like Michael Gordon’s The Web (1947), The Long Night (1947), Rogues’ Regiment (1948) and The Bribe (1949), with Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner and Charles Laughton. His first starring role was as conman James Addison Reavis in the biopic The Baron of Arizona (1950), directed by Samuel Fuller. 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. Other notable films during this time include Bagdad (1949), with Maureen O’Hara.

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 3-D film to land in the year’s top ten at the North American box office. His next roles were The Mad Magician (1954), with Mary Murphy and Eva Gabor; Fritz Lang‘s noir While the City Sleeps (1956), with Dana Andrews, Rhonda Fleming, George Sanders, Howard Duff, Thomas Mitchell, John Drew Barrymore and Ida Lupino; the monster movie The Fly (1958) and its sequel Return of the Fly (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 (also 1959) as Dr. Warren Chapin, who discovered the titular creature.

Outside the horror realm, Price played Baka (the master builder) in Cecil B. DeMille‘s The Ten Commandments (1956), who’s all star cast included Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, and Edward G. Robinson. 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 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), co-starring Peter Lorre and Rathbone; The Raven (1963), featuring Jack Nicholson; The Haunted Palace (1963), with Chaney and Debra Paget; 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), the latter directed by Mario Bava. In 1968 he played the part of an eccentric artist in the musical Darling of the Day, opposite Patricia Routledge. He appeared in The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971), its sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), and Theatre of Blood (1973), in which he portrayed one of a pair of serial killers; and Michael Schultz’s Scavenger Hunt (1979), with Richard Benjamin, James Coco, Scatman Crothers, Ruth Gordon, Leachman, Cleavon Little, Roddy McDowall, Robert Morley, Richard Mulligan, Tony Randall, Dirk Benedict, Willie Aames, Stephanie Faracy, Stephen Furst, Richard Masur, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Meat Loaf.

In 1979, Price starred with his wife in the short-lived CBS TV series Time Express. In 1979, he hosted the hour-long amusement park and roller coaster television special “America Screams”, riding on many of the roller coasters himself and recounting their history. During 1979–1980, he hosted the “Mystery Night” segment of the radio series Sears Radio Theater. In 1981, 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 short film about a young boy who flashes from reality into a fantasy where he is the iconic actor. In 1982, Price provided the spoken-word sequence to the end of the Michael Jackson song Thriller (the music video was directed by John Landis).

In 1983, he played the Sinister Man in the British spoof horror film Bloodbath at the House of Death. He appeared in House of the Long Shadows 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 favorites, was as the voice of Professor Ratigan in Walt Disney Pictures’ The Great Mouse Detective in 1986.

From 1981 to 1989, Price hosted the PBS television series Mystery! In 1985, he provided voice talent on the Hanna-Barbera series The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo as the mysterious “Vincent Van Ghoul” who aided Scooby-Doo, Shaggy, and the gang in recapturing 13 demons. 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 Lindsay Anderson’s The Whales of August, a story of two sisters living in Maine facing the end of their days; his performance in the film him earned the only award nomination of his career: an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. His last significant film works include Catchfire (1990), with Jodie Foster, Dennis Hopper (who also directed), Fred Ward, Charlie Sheen, Joe Pesci, Catherine Keener and Bob Dylan; and Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990), with Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Diane Wiest, and Alan Arkin.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • Service de Luxe Robert (1938) – directed by Rowland V. Lee
  • The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939) – directed by Michael Curtiz
  • Tower of London (1939) – directed by Rowland V. Lee
  • 1940 The Invisible Man Returns (1940) – directed by Joe May
  • Green Hell (1940) – directed by James Whale
  • The House of the Seven Gables (1940) – directed by Joe May
  • Brigham Young (1940) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • Hudson’s Bay (1941) – directed by by Irving Pichel
  • The Song of Bernadette (1943) – directed by Henry King
  • The Eve of St. Mark (1944) – directed by John M. Stahl
  • Wilson (1944) – directed by Henry King
  • Laura (1944) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • The Keys of the Kingdom (1944) – directed by John M. Stahl
  • A Royal Scandal (1945) – directed by Otto Preminger & Ernst Lubitsch
  • Leave Her to Heaven (1945) – directed by John M. Stahl
  • Shock (1946) – directed by Alfred L. Werker
  • Dragonwyck (1946) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • The Web (1947) – directed by Michael Gordon
  • The Long Night (1947) – directed by Anatole Litvak
  • Moss Rose (1947) – directed by Gregory Ratoff
  • Up in Central Park (1948) – directed by William A. Seiter
  • Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) – directed by Charles Barton – uncredited voice
  • Rogues’ Regiment (1948) – directed by Robert Florey
  • The Three Musketeers (1948) – directed by George Sidney
  • The Bribe (1949) – directed by Robert Z. Leonard
  • Bagdad (1949) – directed by Charles Lamont
  • The Baron of Arizona (1950) – directed by Samuel Fuller
  • Champagne for Caesar (1950) – directed by Richard Whorf
  • Curtain Call at Cactus Creek (1950) – directed by Charles Lamont
  • Adventures of Captain Fabian (1951) – directed by William Marshall
  • His Kind of Woman (1951) – directed by John Farrow & Richard Fleischer (uncredited)
  • Pictura: An Adventure in Art (1951) – directed by E. A. Dupont, Luciano Emmer, Enrico Gras, Alain Resnais, Robert Hessens, Marc Sorkin, Olga Lipska, & Lauro Venturi – documentary
  • The Las Vegas Story (1952) – directed by Robert Stevenson
  • House of Wax (1953) – directed by Andre DeToth
  • Dangerous Mission (1954) – directed by Louis King
  • Born in Freedom: The Story of Colonel Drake (1954) – directed by Arthur Pierson
  • Casanova’s Big Night (1954) – directed by Norman Z. McLeod – uncredited cameo
  • The Mad Magician (1954) – directed by John Brahm
  • Son of Sinbad (1955) – directed by Ted Tetzlaff
  • Serenade (1956) – directed by Anthony Mann
  • While the City Sleeps  (1956) – directed by Fritz Lang
  • The Vagabond King (1956) – directed by Michael Curtiz – uncredited narrator
  • The Ten Commandments (1956) – directed by Cecil B. DeMille
  • The Story of Mankind (1957) – directed by Irwin Allen
  • The Fly (1958) – directed by Kurt Neumann
  • House on Haunted Hill (1959) – directed by William Castle
  • Return of the Fly (1959) – directed by Edward Bernds
  • The Big Circus (1959) – directed by Joseph M. Newman
  • The Tingler (1959) – directed by William Castle
  • The Bat  (1959) – directed by Crane Wilbur
  • House of Usher (1960) – directed by Roger Corman
  • Master of the World (1961) – directed by William Witney
  • Pit and the Pendulum (1961) – directed by Roger Corman
  • Nefertiti, Queen of the Nile (1961) – directed by Fernando Cerchio
  • Rage of the Buccaneers (1961) – directed by Mario Costa
  • Confessions of an Opium Eater (1962) – directed by Albert Zugsmith
  • Tales of Terror (1962) – directed by Roger Corman
  • Convicts 4 (1962) – directed by Millard Kaufman
  • Tower of London (1962) – directed by Roger Corman
  • The Raven (1963) – directed by Roger Corman
  • Diary of a Madman (1963) – directed by Reginald Le Borg
  • Beach Party (1963) – directed by William Asher
  • The Haunted Palace (1963) – directed by Roger Corman
  • Twice-Told Tales (1963) – directed by Sidney Salkow
  • The Comedy of Terrors (1964) – directed by Jacques Tourneur
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964) – directed by Ubaldo Ragona & Sidney Salkow
  • The Masque of the Red Death (1964) – directed by Roger Corman
  • The Tomb of Ligeia (1965) – directed by Roger Corman
  • War-Gods of the Deep (1965) – directed by Jacques Tourneur
  • Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965) – directed by Norman Taurog
  • Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966) – directed by Mario Bava
  • The House of 1,000 Dolls (1967) – directed by Jeremy Summers
  • The Jackals (1967) – directed by Robert D. Webb
  • Witchfinder General (1968) – directed by Michael Reeves – aka Conqueror Worm
  • Spirits of the Dead (1968) – directed by Roger Vadim, Louis Malle, & Federico Fellini – anthology – English version – uncredited
  • More Dead Than Alive (1969) – directed by Robert Sparr
  • The Trouble with Girls (1969) – directed by Peter Tewksbury
  • The Oblong Box (1969) – directed by Gordon Hessler
  • Scream and Scream Again (1970) – directed by Gordon Hessler
  • An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe (1970) – directed by Kenneth Johnson
  • Cry of the Banshee (1970) – directed by Gordon Hessler
  • Cucumber Castle (1970)  – directed by Hugh Gladwish – TV movie
  • Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1971) – directed by Jules Bass & Arthur Rankin Jr. – TV movie
  • The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) – directed by Robert Fuest
  • Mooch Goes to Hollywood (1971) – directed by Richard Erdman – TV movie
  • What’s a Nice Girl Like You…? (1971) – directed by Jerry Paris – TV movie
  • Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) – directed by Douglas Hickox
  • Theatre of Blood (1973) – directed by Douglas Hickox
  • Madhouse (1974) – directed by Jim Clark
  • Percy’s Progress (1974) – directed by Ralph Thomas
  • Journey Into Fear (1975) – directed by Daniel Mann
  • The Butterfly Ball (1976) – directed by Tony Klinger
  • Scavenger Hunt (1979) – directed by Michael Schultz
  • Pogo for President (1980) – Marc Paul Chinoy – aka I Go Pogo
  • The Monster Club (1981) – directed by Roy Ward Baker
  • Freddie the Freeloader’s Christmas Dinner (1981) – directed by John Trent – TV special
  • Vincent (1982) – directed by Tim Burton – short
  • Fun with Mr. Future (1983) – directed by Darrell Van Citters – short
  • House of the Long Shadows (1983) – directed by Pete Walker
  • Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983) – directed by John Landis – short
  • Bloodbath at the House of Death (1984) – directed by Ray Cameron
  • The Little Troll Prince (1985) – directed by
  • Ray Patterson – TV special
  • The Great Mouse Detective (1986)** – directed by Burny Mattinson, David Michener, John Musker, & Ron Clements
  • Escapese (1986) – directed by David Steensland – TV movie
  • The Nativity (1987) – directed by Don Lusk
  • From a Whisper to a Scream (1987) – directed by Jeff Burr
  • The Whales of August (1987) – directed by Lindsay Anderson
  • Sparky’s Magic Piano (1987) – directed by Lee Mishkin – short
  • Dead Heat (1988) – directed by Mark Goldblatt
  • Catchfire (1990) – directed by Dennis Hopper
  • Edward Scissorhands (1990) – directed by Tim Burton
  • The Heart of Justice  (1992) – directed by
  • Bruno Barreto – TV movie
  • The Thief and the Cobbler (1995) – directed by Richard Williams – posthumous release