40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2000
Many people know Vincent Price simply as "that horror film actor". He was, however, a man of many varied interests and talents, far beyond those even most fans might be aware of. The life of Vincent Price could be summed up in one word: full. Price did so much with his life that the author's job of bringing it to one book must have been daunting. But Victoria accomplishes this task quite well. From traveling to and receiving his education in Europe, to his first major stage role (and huge hit) in Victoria Regina, his stage, television and film work, marriages, children, interests in travel, public-speaking, cooking, writing and well-known and life-long love of art are all here. For those who must have something a little more lurid, heretofore-unknown facts about his involvement with the Fifties McCarthy witch-hunts and the rather shocking deal he made, and his sexuality are touched on. The greatest achievement of this book, however, owes as much to Vincent Price himself as it does to the author. Throughout his life Vincent wrote (and kept) an enormous amount of correspondence. With this wealth of personal documents at her disposal, Victoria sprinkles quotes from Vincent throughout the book. Thus, we are fortunate to have Vincent's life unfold before us as if Vincent himself were relating his own story. His triumphs, failures, joys, fears, pain. Vincent talks to us about each. Never before has a person's life, documented by another, been brought so close to the reader, or made so personal. Many thanks are due, both to Victoria and Vincent for this wonderful accomplishment. There are a few downsides to the book, however. The book is lacking when the author discusses her father's films. She has over the years admitted that she never really watched her father's horror pictures. As such, we regretfully do not gain many insights into the making of those films that we didn't already know from other books. This is a huge opportunity lost. And sadly, the slant that comes across when the author discusses her (deceased) stepmother, actress Coral Browne, is decidedly negative. While entitled to include or discard facts as one wishes (for this book is as much a memoir of Victoria's life as it is a bio of Vincent's), one wishes the author hadn't been quite so needful (and used a bio of her father as the vehicle) to paint Browne in such a bad light. The uplifting, joyful and celebratory narrative of Vincent's life comes to an abrupt halt when the author turns her attention to detailing her stepmother's perceived faults.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 1999
This was a wonderful book, from beginning to end. I've been a Vincent Price fan since I was a little kid, but I never had a clue that he did anything other than horror movies until I became an adult. While reading this book I became fascinated with him all over again, watching old movies that were new to me, like Oscar-winning LAURA, where he played a young playboy from Kentucky. Not only do you learn about him personally, but about the extreme era in which he grew up. He witnessed the Nazi regime first-hand while living overseas, and even attended one of Adolph Hitler's many rallies. This book really gets to the heart of his true loves in life; Art, Europe, Family, Music, and the stage. Read it and dicover what a wonderful, multi-faceted person he was all over again.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 1999
This is probably the most rounded, most intimate portrait we will ever get of a horror film star. Due to her unparallelled access to her father, his unpublished memoirs, and his letters, Victoria Price gives us a remarkably intimate and detailed view of her father's public and private life. The strongest parts of the book are her portraits of her father's theatrical career (covered in great detail), and his rich private and social life. His marriages to Mary Grant Price and Coral Browne are portrayed in all their complexity,and Price's final years are revealed with both love and sadness. The book has literally dozens of fresh details about Price's private life which were unknown to even this veteran fan. The book has its weaknesses, though: Victoria Price has no great interest or love for horror movies, and her usually rigorous command of detail breaks down when she covers these topics. And her coverage of Price's film career is heavily dependent on an earlier book by Lucy Chase Williams, THE COMPLETE FILMS OF VINCENT PRICE--to the point where I thought she had Williams book in one hand while typing in the other. Additionally, Ms. Price's book lacks footnotes, a somewhat maddening omission, as the many anecdotes from her father are all unsourced. But all in all, this is a must-buy and must-read for any Vincent Price fan.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2002
This biography is surprisingly good, considering the subject's own daughter wrote it. Victoria Price manages to remain objective in discussing her father's life, though - as is only to be expected - she accentuates the positive and quickly glances by the negative. Not that this is a bad thing (I wouldn't expect, or necessarily be attracted to, some kind of expose on the man), but it does leave unanswered questions.
Victoria brings up Vincent's "grey listing" during the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings, and his getting around it by making some general pro-American/anti-Communist statements to the FBI denoting basic agreement with them (citing organizations and non-named individuals as being un-American) for instance, and even that his affirmations to the contrary were later discovered (by her) to be false, but this is quickly glossed over - as is her father's "occasional drinking problem," which she tantalizingly hints was an ongoing familial difficulty but refuses to detail. Vincent was involved in the 1959 rigged quiz-show hearings for his part in The $64,000 Question, about which Victoria hastens to inform us he was found innocent, or at least ignorant, of - though oddly she virtually proves the actor's at least semi-knowing involvement in his behind-the-scenes pre-briefings before airtime.
Victoria is best at presenting the human side of the man, which is after all what a good biography does. Her greatest strength is in detailing his psychological development and early career, pre-horror star status. She falters considerably from Vincent's American International Pictures years on, admitting herself that she still hasn't seen his many famous horror films. Anyone looking for information on those projects and those years would do best to look elsewhere.
Still, that this is a less thorough biography than it could be is a matter of little import. It does genuinely paint a warm portrait of what Vincent Price was, by one of the people who would know best: an accomplished art critic and collector, a gourmand, a generous benefactor to those in need, a concerned and active political man, a devoted father, and (of course) a celebrated actor. Victoria does at least mention her father's flaws, in such fashion as one can only sympathize with them, and does a wonderful job of presenting the famous actor as the remarkably vigorous and witty Renaissance man he was.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2000
First I have to wonder whether I read the same book as the reviewer on January 17. I found it to be well written, well researched, and terrific reading. This intimate look at Vincent Price was much more than I expected since Victoria had the kind of access to her subject that a lot of biographers do not: she was his child, lived with him for some years, and she also had the good fortune to have scores of family members, wives, close friends, co-workers, etc. to glean information from. And she painted a balanced portrait of the man complete with his flaws.
I also disagree that the book's focus is on Victoria. She is in it no more and no less than any child of a biographical subject would be. The reviewer seems to be implying that Victoria is whining and complaining about her life and the times her father was away from home working, etc. etc. She does mention that at times the relationship suffered because of his absences, but she also makes clear a number of times just how much she loved and admired her father and vice versa and how she treasured their relationship and the times they shared together. My impression is that they had a pretty good overall relationship and it does not seem to me that Victoria is "licking her emotional wounds in public."
She is upfront about the tense and awkward relationship she had with Coral Browne, Vincent's last wife, but she also takes great care to understand how much of an imposing presence Coral was in her father's life (apparently in anyone's life!) and also recounts the great times she had with Coral once Coral began to let her guard down. Victoria understands that Coral was threatened by the undying love and devotion Vincent had for his daughter and Coral hated the fact that she was not the only person in Vincent's life. Most of Coral's friends and acquaintances that were interviewed admit that Coral was unable to accept that Vincent refused to completely shut his kids out of his life because that was what Coral wanted and this was what led to some tensions in the relationships.
However, as I said, Victoria states that she came to like and admire Coral and recounts a number of times that they shared good times together. As for the hints of bisexuality, Victoria points out clearly that for years there were rumors of both Vincent and Coral being bisexual and that they were well aware of the rumors and laughed about it all. The focus on Vincent's career is pretty interesting and while there are many anecdotes about his films, plays, costars and the like, the book is hardly gossipy. I do agree that she seemed to gloss over his work in horror films which kind of disappointed me since, as a kid, that was how I first became aware of Vincent Price, but she admits herself that she has no great love for horror films, but she doesn't ignore them altogether; she understands how important they were in her father's career and how they opened Vincent to a wider audience than ever. She just doesn't cover them in great detail as I would have liked. Then there are the other sides of Vincent: the art lover and supporter, the gourmet, the loyal and devoted friend and father which help with the balanced portrait. Does Victoria cover every single facet of her father's life. No, probably not, but what biography is 100% complete? Some things are bound to get short shrift in the grand scheme of things. (She does acknowledge her debt to Lucy Chase Williams and her book on Vincent's films) All in all, I'm thankful to Victoria for this well balanced, fascinating and entertaining look at one of the best there was. She should be as proud of her book as she was of her father and this terrific book will be part of Vincent's legacy. I say read it for yourself and judge. My guess is that if you're a fan of Vincent's you won't be disappointed. Thanks again Victoria!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2012
This is a fine, detailed portrait of Vincent Price that will be hard for fans to put down (double meaning intended). Biography, especially by a person who knows the subject intimately, always has individual perspective, yet Ms. Price has written an excellent, professional account that also includes, of course, special insights. (Unlike a previous reviewer, incidentally, I don't recall Ms. Price clearly inferring that her father was bi-sexual, only that some people wondered about it, and I saw nothing wrong in addressing this.) This book is not intended to be an analytical examination of Price's movies, but a way of getting to know the person, his background, interests, accomplishments, and what sort of life he led---let alone the familiar and unfamiliar anecdotes that are so entertaining.
I once attended a lecture by Vincent Price in Seattle and was captivated by his knowledge and humor. He told entertaining stories about his experiences in Hollywood (one I recall was him getting a little tap on the shoulder in a grocery store, and when he turned around it was Ava Gardner, who said, "Hi, Vinnie!") Toward the end of his lecture, he told the audience he was going to recite some lines from Shakespeare in a part he knew he would never have been asked to play. He did Romeo's famous soliloquy to Juliet. And amazingly enough, it was superb!
Because I grew up watching Vincent Price (mainly after he became the horror actor most of us know and love), and because of the fascinating man himself, I found this one of the most enjoyable biographies I've read in a long time.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2000
Well, I'm almost afraid to make mention of any thing to criticize in the book after the past few reviews here, but there really isn't that much to complain about anyway (nor is this the forum for people to be objecting to other reviewers that merely stated their views of the book -- and not on other reviewers). Excellent book about Vincent and certainly filled in some holes about his career that I was never quite sure about (especially as I had nowhere to go to research his career properly until this book). I do feel that too much time was spent on Coral, but given that this was a women who represented so much in the writer's relationship with her father, it is forgivable. The only major complaint (and it's not much of one) is the use of fractured timelines in the text that leaves a reader bouncing back and forth through time a bit too much. As to the "bi" thing (since it has been brought up), I do also feel that the author never bothered resolving the issue in any form, thus it seemed a bit silly to even bring it up in the text of the book. Still, I doubt it would keep anyone from the book itself in discussing such matters.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2008
The one thing you could always count on from Vincent Price was a good performance. Price always gave his all to whatever character he played, be it Brigham Young or Dr. Phibes, Mr. Manningham of Angel Street or Egghead of Batman. He was a professional, through and through.
This biography of Price by his lovely daughter Victoria would certainly have made Vincent proud, for it is also thoroughly professional. The author's prose is about as polished as it gets, which makes reading the book a joy. And the editing is nothing if not top notch.
The book starts with interesting information on Vincent Price's early life in St. Louis, then moves on to his college years (Price graduated from Yale), to his overseas travels, his work in London theatre, his eventual return to the United States and work on Broadway, his marriages to actress Edith Barrett (who bore him a son, Vincent Barrett Price), to designer Mary Grant (who bore him Victoria), to Vincent's work in Hollywood, to his eventual final marriage to actress Coral Browne, and much more.
We learn much about Price's great love for art and of his desire to make art affordable for everyone (which led to Price's work for Sears); of his contributions to various art galleries and his efforts to have a permanent gallery of his own (he had one, for a time, but had to close it); of his travels to exotic places around the world; of his gourmet cooking; of his love for animals; of his extensive work in film (Price made a number of horror films, but most of his work in film was not horror related), of his extensive television and stage work; of his incredible solo show as Oscar Wilde and of his many speeches; and of his relationships with many of the biggest stars of his day, many of whom became his close personal friends.
Some of the most interesting parts of the book were those in which the author wrote of Vincent's relationships with people in general. Although Price was a big star, he apparently treated everyone with the same genial kindness, be they celebrities like himself or mere street sweepers.
So as not to make him into too much of an angel, Victoria also tells of her father's occasional angry outbursts, of his affairs, and of his two divorces. She tells of his insecurities, and of his all-consuming desire to be liked.
Vincent Price has been gone for a few years now - gone but not forgotten. His work remains, as does his spirit in the hearts of his family, friends and fans.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 27, 2013
My mother grew up in Missouri, knowing in her childhood Vincent Price and Betty Grable.... She often spoke of the intelligence and wit of Vincent. I was always amazed at the range of his acting talents, and his love of the art world and desire to open up the appreciation of fine paintings to more people.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2000
Having read this book, I now have even greater love and respect for the man. Victoria wrote a thorough biography, flavored with love and loss. Having once met Vincent Price when he made an appearance in Milwaukee in the early '80's, I feel especially privileged to have talked with my idol of many years. He is everything gentle, courtly, kind and gracious. This book filled in so much of his life that was unknown to me. Upon the announcement of his passing, I nearly crashed my car on the freeway, the sense of loss was so great. Thank you, Victoria for taking the risk, and for giving back to me someone I have admired for years.