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Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography Hardcover – October 4, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 67 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Those who only think of Vincent Price as the deliciously evil star of numerous horror films are in for an enjoyable surprise with Victoria Price's Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography. The younger Price, through a dedicated search of clippings, letters, and her father's old journals, paints a beautifully rich portrait of a man with personal grace, intellectual fire, and a kind heart. Price reveals everything from odd little tidbits--Vincent was cast in his first London stage production due to his gum-chewing abilities--to profound depths, such as his lifelong love of art and his serious reputation as a student and collector. Price also had a surprisingly good sense of humor, indulging in genially self-deprecating jokes about his own occasionally abysmal movies.

Though this is definitely a loving memoir of her father, Victoria Price is not blinded by her affection for him. She gives an earnest attempt at presenting the whole man--fact-checking and debunking a few cherished family legends and unflinchingly reporting her father's youthful anti-Semitism. (As Price grew more worldly and met some actual Jews, he reversed his position and became an active supporter of B'nai Brith and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League.) But A Daughter's Autobiography's may best value may be as a handbook for actors: through the numerous ups and downs of his career, Price remained a consummate professional. He never stopped working to improve his skills, deliberately sidestepping romantic-lead parts to take on more challenging roles, and was unfailingly generous to his costars. A truly engrossing look at the noble character of one of the silver screen's greatest villains. --Ali Davis

From Publishers Weekly

A legendary screen villain and host of PBS's Mystery, Vincent Price (1911- 1993) was also a gourmet chef, a bestselling author, an enthusiastic art expert and collector and a general all-around good guy, according to this vivid biography. Written by his daughter Victoria, who writes for television, the book takes us from Price's early acting career, where one of his first jobs was as Helen Hayes's leading man on Broadway, to his days, starting in 1938, under a Hollywood contract, beginning with supporting film roles (Laura; Song of Bernadette). By the 1950s, he had patented his suavely villainous screen persona in The Fly, House of Wax and The Ten Commandments. By the time Victoria was born to Price and his second wife, Mary, in 1962, he was enjoying his greatest success in film, his low-budget but highly profitable collaborations with Roger Corman (The Pit & the Pendulum, Masque of Red Death). Victoria Price explores her father's life as if unraveling a mystery, never ignoring his failings (his secret signing of a loyalty oath during the blacklisting era; an affair that destroyed his 24-year marriage) or secrets (including his possible bisexuality). Definitive, exhaustively researched and superbly written, the book contains none of the sentimentality the subtitle may suggestAin part because of the vast material the author had access to, including over 200 pages of transcribed conversations during her father's final years, two nearly completed memoirs by him, a lifetime of preserved correspondence and the firsthand recollections of dozens of contemporaries. Victoria Price tells Vincent's tale with such clear-eyed pride that the reader cannot help being won over. Photos not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 370 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st edition (October 4, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312242735
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312242732
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.8 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #937,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James Nemeth on April 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
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.Read more ›
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By A Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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