Although Vincent Price played a variety of roles in various film genres throughout his long career, he is probably best remembered for his macabre, villainous roles in horror films. His most memorable portrayals include the deranged sculptor in "House of Wax" (1953), the tormented Roderick Usher in "House of Usher" (1960) and the insane torturer's son in "The Pit and the Pendulum" (1961). Price relished playing a villain and once said: "I sometimes feel that I'm impersonating the dark unconscious of the whole human race. I know this sounds sick, but I love it."
In real life Vincent Price was a far cry from the villains he portrayed on the screen. He is said to have been a sweet and funny man, who was not just an actor but also an art lover and collector who gave lectures and wrote popular books on fine art. Furthermore, he was a noted cook and the author of several cookbooks. Price's kind, charming personality made him popular with many people including his colleagues in the industry. Antony Carbone, who had played with Price in "The Pit and the Pendulum", called him ".. a marvel, just a professional, fantastic man who was always prepared, always ready, always with a sense of humor." Richard Matheson, screenwriter of "House of Usher", said that Price was "truly the nicest man I ever met in my days in Hollywood, a perfect gentleman and a most genial friend". And there were many others who had nothing but good things to say about him. In 1960, Mark Damon co-starred with Price in "House of Usher" and afterwards wrote him a letter to praise him for his off-screen behaviour. Damon's letter, which shows just how much Price was admired and respected by his fellow actors, can be seen below.
|Vincent Price in a publicity still for "House of Usher" (1960).|
|Vincent Price and co-star Mark Damon in a scene from "House of Usher" (on the right Harry Ellerbe).|
Source: heritage auctions (reproduced with permission)
This is an "actor-to-actor" note before the picture has been released. My comments are therefore not on your performance, which I don't have to see on the screen to appreciate, but on your off-screen behavior, which has taught me much.
You remember, I asked you if you had learned anything working on this picture, and you told me that you had. I didn't tell you what I had learned. I learned just how gracious, cordial, and warmly human a star of your calibre could be. You set an example I hope I may follow through the rest of my acting career. Thank you for that.
Thank you, also, for your advice, your help, your unselfishness, and for all the wisdom you imparted to me. I have benefitted greatly by working with you, and I am very grateful to you.
I hope I will have the pleasure of seeing you again very soon.
Your good friend,