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.)
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