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Vincent Price--Native St. Louisan

Vincent Price was a writer, a lecturer on art, and a star of stage, screen, and television.  He was also a native St. Louisan, who always remembered his roots. 

Vincent Price : a daughter's biography
Victoria Price.
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
The distinguished icon of the classic American horror film was hardly a ghoul. In this candid memoir, his daughter reveals a man both complex and human as he deals with his marriages, his sexuality, his family, and his passion for the arts. photo insert.
     

Vincent Price was born in St. Louis on May 27, 1911, and attended both St. Louis Community School (where he had his first leading role in Robin Hood) and Country Day.  "I became fascinated with where I lived," he said.  "There I found my way in the arts." 

Lifetime art collector

Vincent Price began collecting art in his youth with the purchase of a Rembrandt etching for $34.50 on the installment plan.

As an adult, Price's interest in art continued.  He owned a famous art collection and authored several art books including The Vincent Price Treasury of American Art.  In 1951 Price donated some of his personal art objects to the East Los Angeles College.

(view the Vincent Price Art Gallery)

His love of art led him to study at Yale and London's Courtauld Institute, and it was in London that he dedicated himself to acting.  His success was rapid:  by the age of 24, he was a leading man on Broadway, and in the next few years he worked with Orson Welles' Mercury Theater and made his film debut. 

Bringing up Oscar : the story of the men and women who founded the academy
Debra Ann Pawlak.
New York : Pegasus Books, 2011.
The founders of the now infamous Academy were a motley crewas individuals, but when they first converged in Hollywood, thenjust a small town with dirt roads, sparks flew and fueled a commondream: to bring artistic validity to their beloved new medium. Today, movies are so ingrained in our culture it is hard to imagine a time when former cowpunchers, prospectors, vaudevillians,even junk dealers made up the rules as they went along. Prohibitionand the Great Depression were keeping everyone on edge, and thebusiness was rife with murders and drug scandals. Somethinghad to happen. And so on January 11th, 1927, thirty-six members of Hollywood's elite and not-so-elite came together at thebehest of MGM chief Louis B. Mayer. From Cecil B. DeMille toMary Pickford, Harry M. Warner, who owned a bike shop beforelaunching the revolutionary “talkie” The Jazz Singer, even JosephM. Schenck, freed from jail just in time to discover Marilyn Monroe-each guest was more colorful than the last. Although theydidn’t know it yet, these thirty-six achievers and dreamers gavebirth to a golden child. Who were these movers and shakers who would change moviesforever? And what about Oscar, their famous son? He is fast approaching his 100th birthday, and is still the undisputed king of Hollywood. Yet with such dynamic parents, what else could weexpect?
     

This was the beginning of a career which included 100 films, ranging from Oscar winners The Song of Bernadette and Laura to the horror classics House of Wax, The Fly, and The Abominable Dr. Phibes.

Throughout his life, Vincent Price kept returning to St. Louis.  As his daughter Victoria said, "He always loved performing in his hometown."  His local appearances included three shows at the Muny, throwing the first pitch at a Cardinals game, and even performing "The Raven" with the St. Louis Symphony. 

His affection for St. Louis was reciprocated, and he was awarded with a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 1989.  Vincent Price died on Oct. 25, 1993.

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff