Creator / Vincent Price

Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. (May 27, 1911 October 25, 1993) was an American actor from St. Louis, Missouri. He was the villain of such horror classics as House of Wax, House on Haunted Hill, The Masque of the Red Death, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes. He possessed a very distinctive voice and the most twirlable mustache you ever saw on a living person.

He also provided the creepy narrator voice and Evil Laugh in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" 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, Egghead. 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.

With the possible exceptions of Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre, Price has the most homaged and imitated voice 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 series Mystery! 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 had the same birthday (27 May), and Cushing's birthday was the day before theirs.note  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. Matthew Hopkins in Witchfinder General has only the thinnest veneer of manners, and was sufficiently sadistic to seriously disturb Price and make him regret agreeing to do the role.
  • 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.
  • Everyone Is Bi : Price was bisexual and married an actress who was also bisexual, according to this article, wherein his daughter talks about their (long and healthy) marriage.
  • 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. With his wife and his friend Edward G. Robinson, he collected works of art and then exhibited or sold them at auction to raise money for charity. He even picked out personally some great masterpieces for the Sears Roebuck store chain to reproduce in the '70s to allow the owning of fine art by the masses. Watch the film Sears employees saw to learn more about the collection. He was an enthusiastic supporter of art education through the art school of East Los Angeles College. The Vincent Price Art Museum flourishes to this day.
  • 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.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: With Tim Burton.
  • 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 Last Man on Earth, He was a normal man struggling to survive in a world overrun by zombie-like vampires.
    • 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.
    • To a degree in Witchfinder General, in which he plays a genuinely sadistic and psychopathic villain instead of a campy panto one.
    • In The Whales of August (1987), he plays a kindly, gentle Impoverished Patrician who romances Lillian Gish.
    • In His Kind of Woman, he's a foppish actor modeled after Errol Flynn.
    • In the original The Fly he's a perfectly nice guy just trying to understand what terrible fate has befallen his friend.
  • 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.
  • Rule of Sean Connery : Everything is better with Vincent Price!
  • Supreme Chef: Price actually wrote and published several cookbooks!
  • Villain Protagonist: Played a good number of these.
  • What Could Have Been: Tim Burton, his late-in-life friend, was in the early stages of a documentary about him called Conversations With Vincent when he passed away.