Vincent Price Was a Horror Movie Icon With a Fondness for The Muppets

TALES OF TERROR, Vincent Price, 1962, TTOR 001-02, Photo by: Everett Collection (73548)
Everett Collection

The mustache, the menacing glare, and the kind heart… Price was born on May 27, 1911, in St. Louis, Missouri and prior to becoming a famous actor, he tried his hand at teaching after graduating from Yale University in 1933. Just a year later, he decided to get his master’s degree in fine arts and developed a love for the theater. He started in a London production and soon moved to Broadway. In 1938, he moved to Hollywood to start acting in films and appeared in The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex (1939), The House of the Seven Gables (1940), and The Three Musketeers (1948).

HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, Vincent Price, 1959

Everett Collection

Price got his big break in 1953’s House of Wax (one of the first films to be 3-D) and his love of playing horror villains began. While he didn’t only appear in horror films, most fans know him for the genre. He appeared in The Fly (1958), House on Haunted Hill (1958), Return of the Fly (1959), and The Tingler(1959), to name a few. His popularity continued well into the ’60s and ’70s and during the latter decade, he became one of the most popular guests on The Muppet Show. It was the first episode of its kind to have a particular theme, collaborating with Price for all things spooky.

After The Muppet Show, he focused more on some of his other hobbies including fine art, cooking, gardening, and poetry. He eventually returned to the New York stage in a production of Diversion and Delights in 1978. One of his final performances before his death in 1993 was in the 1990 film Edward Scissorhands, where he played The Inventor who brought Edward Scissorhands to life. Despite playing bad guys so often, he was well known for his kindness in real life. His daughter Victoria wrote in her book Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography, “every day, he filled his mind, his spirit, and his life with everything that interested him—acting, art, cooking, gardening, history, poetry, opera, people, places, things. He was a collector of experience, and found ways to make a living doing most of the things he loved.” He surprisingly had his own cookbook called Cooking Price-Wise: A Culinary Legacy featuring recipes like farmhouse chicken casserole, creole potato salad, and many more. It also includes recipes from Price’s grandfather, the inventor of baking powder.

13th July 1970: Actor Vincent Price (1911 - 1993) at Thames TV studios in Euston, London.

Frank Barratt/Keystone/Getty Images

Price was also a dog lover and even wrote a book about his beloved dog Joe called The Book of Joe: About a Dog and His Man after the divorce from his first wife Edith Barrett. He married two more times during his lifetime and had two children, Victoria and his son Vincent. After a long career and fulfilling life, Price died on October 25th, 1993 at 82 years old. He passed away after complications of Parkison’s disease and lung cancer.

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS, Vincent Price, 1990

20th Century-Fox Film Corporation/Everett Collection

Price left behind a legacy of over 100 films and over 2,000 TV appearances. He even was the narrator for the infamous Michael Jackson Thriller video. His daughter added, “I think a lot of people have very fond memories of sitting around and scaring themselves watching Vincent Price movies. But I think the reason that those movies worked was because always underneath that you saw this man that was having fun. And he really had fun with his life. It was a life well lived.”

Tell us, what is your favorite Vincent Price film or TV appearance?

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