Is Vincent Price a respected actor, or just a hack?

Did Vincent Price ever achieve “A-list” status as an actor? It seems to me that most of his films that I’ve seen are a bit schlocky. And then, at one point he allowed himself to be involved in the marketing of the “Nishika”, an unbelievably tawdry stereo camera. After shooting a roll you had to send it to a PO box someplace in Arizona to have it developed.

Any thoughts? Is my impression right on the money, or have I missed his good stuff?

This is just my impression, but while I don’t think he was necessarily highly regarded as an actor, he was highly respected as a person. He was quite a sophisticated person in real life, a raconteur and art collector. He was gracious to his fans, a sought-after dinner guest, and considerable donator to charity. All in all, a good guy loved by family, fans and friends alike.

Bear in mind that horror actors could be respected up until the slasher boom of the late Seventies. Price, along with Karloff, Lugosi, Cushing and Lee, were class acts in a genre no longer known for them. He was never A-list - none of them were - but they were (and in the case of Lee, still is) very talented men.

He was A list in horror and could sell a movie with his name alone.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Theater of Blood

Fall of the House of Usher

Twice Told Tales

Last Man on Earth

The list goes on and on. He had presence, depth, and a voice like no other.

I love his movies and even enjoy him in lesser movies like the Tingler.

Early 1990’s: Mayfair Market on the corner of Santa Monica Blvd and Flores. Late at night, in the checkout aisle with about four people ahead of me. In the next aisle, a man’s voice asking about a certain vegetable and what time of year it is available.

Every head in my aisle immediately looked to the left at the sound of “that voice”.

Yes, it was Vincent Price…shopping for gourmet foods, as supposedly he was also a very good cook.

Was he an “A” actor, up there with Gregory Peck, Marlon Brando and Laurence Olivier? Nah…but that voice…he certainly ranked way up there for his persona…and if ever you need a creepy chill on Halloween, a Vincent Price film is perfect. Plus, just for the soundtack of Thriller alone, he rocks.

Another thing about Price, the man loved his work. He had the lock on his genre and he knew it. You wanted an over the top mad scientist or all-around creepy guy? You called Vincent.

I’ll take an actor like that over your $20m pretty boy any day of the week.

…and a noted reviewer of books and collector of first editions. Books with his bookplate and some even with the original handwritten review of his come up on the market from time to time. I remember seeing a review copy of Dune, which is hard enough to find in a true first edition, that was from his library…

Tim Burton’s 1982 Vincent probably deserves to be mentioned, somewhere.

And sure, the guy did a lot of horror and “schlock” movies. But damnit, he was one of the best schlocky-movie actors. I’d say that we’re all the richer for having had him, and all the poorer for having lost him.

[quote=Spectre of Pithecanthropus]
have I missed his good stuff?

Probably not. Some people appreciate horror, while some don’t. If you do, Vincent Price is kind of a legend.

He was on stage before he became a film actor. His first major appearance was opposite Helen Hayes in “Victoria Regina” and it ran for three years on Broadway.
Not to mention the non-horror films he did such as “Laura” and “Song of Bernadette”. He was pretty deft at light comedy as well as shown in “Son of Sinbad” and “His Kind of Woman”.
I actually was able to attend a lecture Price gave as part of an arts series many years ago when I was in high school. He described his life and his start as an actor. In one play, I forget which, he was depicting a villain and found it much more enjoyable than playing the “good guy”. He also described how he would go to movie theatres where his films were playing and sit behind groups of teenage girls. At a suitable scary point in the movie he’d lean forward and ask, in his best spooky voice, “Did you like it?” Delicious! I could have listened to him speak all night, he so clearly enjoyed his life.

I accidentally ran across one of his books once in the local public library and it was a fantastic read. It’s titled “I Like What I Know” and goes into his early days in acting and his love of fine art. He and some friends opened an art gallery but he couldn’t make a living with it because he kept purchasing all the paintings himself. He’s had some cookbooks published as well that I would love to get copies of someday as he was quite the gourmet by all accounts.

And just to cap off my Vincent Price Appreciation Post I’ll mention that I rewatched his performance in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Ruddigore” just a few days ago and I thought it was darned good.

A Vincent Price anecdote that I mention because it’s the only Vincent Price anecdote I have: I was a huge fan of his from childhood on and when his (third) wife, Coral Brown (probably best known as the lush stage-star best friend Vera Charles in Auntie Mame) died (1991) I sent him a short sympathy card just stating that I loved his work and was sorry for his loss. A few weeks later I received a notecard from him an extremely moving thank you card; it was a tent style notecard that read simply “Thank you for your sentiments at the time of our loss, Vincent Price”, but what was moving about it was the front, which was this painting.

Titian’s Expulsion from Paradise- I’ve always wondered if it was coincidence or if he saw the death of his wife as his expulsion from Eden.

Some trivia about Price: he was the subject of the first episode of Biography ever dedicated to a living person. (Before him they always stuck with Lincoln, Stalin, Curie and other long-dead folk.) The irony is that it was scheduled to air on Halloween, 1993, and he died the week it aired (so he wasn’t the first living person after all- River Phoenix died the night it aired, incidentally, but I’m reasonably sure it wasn’t connected to Vincent’s death.)

Speaking of Coral Brown, I read Vincent’s daughter’s book and while she seemed to idolize him (it’s not at all a Mommy Dearest “my celebrity parent was a scuzz-bucket who cut me out the will” tell-all- in fact she dispels rumors that Price was gay as “maybe, but I seriously doubt it” [she herself is openly gay]) all of her venom was reserved for Coral, whom she hated with a House of Bloody passion.

PS- Has anybody ever seen Price’s performance as Mormon leader Joseph Smith in Brigham Young? I haven’t but would like to and was wondering if he’s as charismatic as he was in horror movies.

In terms of getting Harrison Ford or Robin Williams bucks per movie, no he is not.

However, he is certainly one of the most recognizable voice actors in history, ifnot the most recognizable.

[snif]Believe it, or Not[/snif]

I always thought it a nice touch by Sandman writer Neil Gaiman to have other characters mention that Cain from The House of Secrets sounds like Vincent Price. Now I can’t read Cain, even in my old horror comics, without hearing “that” voice.

DMark. That is one hella-cool anectdote.

And who can forget his wonderful narration in Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Supposidly, Jackson treated Price harshly, and Price never had kind words to say about Jackson after that.

Unfortunately, I got this from VH1, so who knows how credible it really is.

Probably true. Jackson was an egomaniac even then, and difficult to work with. When Thriller got 12 Grammy nominations and one of them was shared with Quincy Jones for producing, Jackson tried to get Jones’ name withdrawn from the Awards, and claimed that Quincy didn’t produce it. Of course Jackson denys this happened, but the story came from Walter Yetnikoff, former president of CBS Records. So, probably true.

I always thought it was kind of a shame that he wasted his talent on Thriller and is linked to it still. But then I’ve never been a Michael Jackson fan…

Thriller is greatly overrated. The only saving grace is being able to hear Price say, “The funk of 40,000 years”.

Only he could deliver a line like that and get away with it.

I’d agree with Starving Artist’s evaluation of Mr Price. (All around good actor and all around good guy).

Vincent Price has recited works much more eloquent and erudite than “Thriller”. (Ever hear him recite “The Conqueror Worm” ? Creepy !)
Nonetheless, I think everyone would agree, that Price’s narration in the middle of that song really “cinches” it.

I like Dwyr’s anecdote about Vincent Price sitting behind teenage girls in movie theaters.

Whenever Vincent Price was the guest on the “Red Skelton Show” I knew it was going to be total insanity !! Granted, Red Skelton used to break into laughter very easily, but when VIncent Price was with Red, the two of them would crack each other up with ad-libs left and right.

“Thriller” may be better known, but let’s not forget his wonderful work on “The Black Widow” by Alice Cooper, as the museum guide:

I had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Price in a one-man show as Oscar Wilde. He did a fine job.

A-level actor in terms of star-power? Maybe not. A-level actor in terms of class and talent? No doubt at all.

Er … wouldn’t that be selling on the Poe name as well? Not to mention Roger Corman’s name. A poor example.

(Last Man on Earth counts, though, as the film doesn’t share a title with the book it’s based on.)