In November of 1980, I had the privilege of interviewing horror legend Vincent Price for my high school newspaper. In the introduction to my article I wrote:
In person, one would expect Vincent Prince to be a dominating, frightening man, but in a November 15 interview, he proved quite the contrary.
Below is the original, unedited interview as published in The Quill on December 12, 1980 and in The Enid Daily Eagle on December 19, 1980.
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
Only this and nothing more.”
In this particular case, the lore was a composite of Edgar Allen Poe poems, the chamber was Briggs Auditorium, and the visitor was internationally-known actor Vincent Price, in Enid for a performance with the Phillips Symphony.
Price first became familiar with Enid while lecturing at Phillips 19 years ago. “It’s a real nice part of the country,” he commented. Joking about the community’s size, though, he related his difficulty at finding an earlier flight out. “There just aren’t any!”
Price is best known for his ghoulish roles in films of the past 50 years, but says, “Those aren’t horror. They’re nothing like today’s “Friday The 13th,” “Halloween,” and “Terror Motel,” or whatever, which are really considered horror. I’ve done 105 films, but only 20 of them could be considered true thrillers.”
He starred in several adaptions of Poe stories for director Roger Corman in the 1960’s, but supports his belief that even those are not horror. “Poe was a Gothic writer; his works are classics,” he said.
Born in St. Louis in 1911, Price always wanted to be an actor. While attending the University of London (1934-35) he tried out for several plays, the second of which was his “big break,” and he soon returned to the United States with his success.
Getting into the types of roles he is famous for did not stem from any childhood interest or fascinations, they were “just jobs.” He says, “I know there should be some deep psychological reason, but there’s not.”
Over the years he has had the opportunity to work with such greats as Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Basil Rathbone, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and others. Were any of these influence or inspiration for Price? He commented, “They weren’t influences because we all started out together. Boris was a good friend, though, as was Basil.”
Price doesn’t feel that he was ever typecast to a critical point. Of the phenomena that ruins so many celebrities, he noted, “I think everybody, EVERYBODY, goes through periods.” He used the example of Al Pacino who, trying to get away from the macho image, did a play that turned out to be “dreadful.”
Having received his college degree in art, Price lectures on the subject today. “You can always keep up with it,” he pointed out. “Most people forget it’s there, which is too bad.”
He also has an interest in cooking which originated in the home because, he says, “I like to eat.” Although he is the author of a few cook books, he only does it for enjoyment.
Price has become one of the most sought after lecturers in the country. He now travels with about eight different subjects, ranging from the letters of Van Gogh to Tennessee Williams to primitive and modern art. He just completed a four-year world tour of his one-man show about Oscar Wilde, of which he says, “I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.”
Price is a very busy man these days. His stop was a rest between a lecture at Texas Tech and a week in New York for “some television and things.” Eventually he will return to his California home. About his travels, he says, “I get so sick of *O##%0 hamburgers!”
He just completed a movie called “Monster Club” which is a rock and roll film. What does he feel is the reason for the apparent return of the horror flick today? “It’s always been here. The reason they’re so successful is that they’re escape, of course.”
Vincent Price is an accomplished screen and stage actor, writer, lecturer, and has even recorded a few records, so what’s left to do? “A lot of things. I don’t know what yet, but things just happen.”