(May 27, 1911 — October 25, 1993). The villain of such classics as House of Wax (1953)
, The Abominable Dr. Phibes
, House on Haunted Hill (1959)
, The Pit And The Pendulum
, The Masque Of The Red Death
, and a man with a very distinctive voice.
He also provided the creepy narrator voice and Evil Laugh
in Michael Jackson
" (its spiritual successor, Threatened
, had narration made from stock voice clips of his) and Alice Cooper
's "Devil's Food." On the 1960's Batman
TV series, he had a semi-recurring role as the world's greatest criminal mind
. He was one of only two villains (the other being King Tut) to deduce Bruce Wayne's secret identity. He also voiced the Diabolical Mastermind
of The Great Mouse Detective
, Professor Ratigan (which he would later say was one of his favourite roles). In addition, in 1971 he spent a few days in Canada doing segments for that goofy mainstay of Canadian kids TV, The Hilarious House Of Frightenstein
He and Peter Lorre
have the two most homaged voices when it comes to evil cartoon characters. Hell, he's even lent his voice to some homages: he appeared
in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo
as Vincent van Ghoul and narrated Tim Burton
's animated short film Vincent
. His other television credits include the PBS
and the 1950s Game Show
turned interview show ESP
Price was good friends with the two great Hammer Horror
actors, Christopher Lee
and Peter Cushing
, and starred alongside both of them in various films. Strangely enough, Lee and Price were born on the same day, and Cushing one day before them. One of his closest friends was the above mentioned Peter Lorre, whose eulogy Price read at his funeral.
Highly eccentric, he considered his guest appearance on The Muppet Show
a "tremendous honour" (before the show really became a worldwide sensation), in a similar manner to how major musical artists know they've "made it" when "Weird Al" Yankovic
parodies their songs. Price was also an art historian and expert cook
"Vincent Price: The Art of Tropes":
- Actor Allusion: Narrated Tim Burton's short film Vincent, about a young boy named Vincent Malloy who wanted to be "just like Vincent Price."
- Affably Evil: In most of his roles.
- Faux Affably Evil: But not always. Ratigan is the biggest example, at least to Disney fans, and Matthew Hopkins (Witchfinder General) has only the thinnest veneer of manners.
- The Atoner: According to the book Vincent Price: The Art of Fear, Price lied about being colorblind to dodge military service during World War II but risked being blacklisted when he refused to testify against friends during the Red Scare. "I was afraid to stand up against injustice abroad, now I must have the courage to stand up against it in my own country!"
- Classically Trained Extra: Price was trained in classical theater, did a stint with Orson Welles' Mercury Theater company before moving into films and performed a one-man theater show as Oscar Wilde later in his career. He loved Theatre of Blood for giving him the chance to perform Shakespeare, albeit while murdering his costars!
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe
- Doing It for the Art: Although he sometimes took roles to finance his support of the arts, he always made a point of having fun even when in bad movies.
- Evil Laugh: One of the undisputed masters of this trope.
- Famous Last Words: On a technicality, at least. He voiced the character Zigzag in The Thief and the Cobbler, which went through a particularly long Development Hell and wasn't released until after his death. Thus, his final words on film are "For Zigzag then, it is the end."
- Friend to All Children: In Real Life, Price loved children and would make great efforts to keep in touch with his younger co-stars after filming ceased.
- Hidden Depths: As stated above, he was an accomplished chef who published several cook books.
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- His character in The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo is pretty much just Price playing himself with magical powers.
- When acting, Price was known to do exaggerated Shakespearean gesticulation. He also did it when he voiced The Great Mouse Detective's Big Bad, Prof. Ratigan (his favorite role), so the animators sketched him during voice-over sessions and animated the poses into Ratigan.
- Large Ham: Though he was capable of nuance, Price's characters tended to be larger than life, but thankfully not cheesy.
- Usually not cheesy. In Theatre of Blood, he took the cheese to eleven, and for good reason.
- In the 1951 His Kind of Woman, Price co-starred with Robert Mitchum and Jane Russell, playing an Errol Flynn-style matinee idol who, when he helps Bob fight mobsters, gets a huge rush from real-life peril and leaps into the fray loudly spouting Shakespeare. Ham and cheese with plenty of relish.
- Professor Ratigan lives this trope until the climax, in which he turns into a vicious rat who tries killing the protagonist by knocking him from a clock tower only to fall himself.
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Despite playing almost exclusively villainous roles his entire career, he was a generally warm person with a quirky sense of humor. Loving children, when he played in a movie opposite them, he took great pains to make sure that they weren't frightened of him off-camera.
- In every film, you're actually rooting for his villain character— that is, except Witchfinder General.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Price was born in St. Louis and trained for the stage in London; he varied the resulting accent only a bit to play characters from all over the United States and England.
- Playing Against Type: His final live-action appearance as the Inventor in Edward Scissorhands— a Mad Scientist who lives in the stereotypical Gothic castle and has a creation, but is the most kindly and loving person you could ever meet. Extremely memorable and touching, since it is probably the role most like his real self.
- He'd done this once or twice before— The Tingler builds him up as the Villain Protagonist only to have him ultimately turn out to be a pretty okay guy, while House On Haunted Hill has the twist ending that he was the intended victim all along. Perhaps most amusingly, in The Raven, he played an overdramatic and darkly-styled but heroic Camp Straight magician.
- In The Pit and the Pendulum he plays a tragic character who is driven insane by his wife and becomes the villain at the movies climax.
- Pungeon Master: In the '60s Batman show. His character used an absolutely egg-scrutiating number of puns that is only rivaled by that of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman & Robin.
- Villain Protagonist