Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Vincent Price's face floats in the darkness. There is the regal hairline, shaped like a sharp capital M. There is the manicured mustache. Beneath, the mouth opens, and the stentorian voice, gravelly and grave.
Vincent Price played a madman so often, he became a kind of on-screen spokesman for the mad. The delicious, campy horror was not so much embodied by Price as invented by him. This year is his 100th birthday, and horror superfan Tom Stockman has convinced a cabal of local groups to honor the St. Louis born actor with Vincentennial, a collection of exhibitions, theatrical performances, talks, and other disturbances, including a film fest, all devoted to the indefatigable movie madman.
Victoria Price, the daughter of Vincent, points out that her father adored St. Louis, and returned from his LA home to the Midwest many times to donate visual art from his impressive collection, to act in plays, and so on. Victoria claims he was very proud to be from St. Louis, In fact, when she was a kid she got the impression that there was some sort of homing device for people who came from St. Louis that allowed them to find each other. A group of complete strangers could be at a party, and they'd suddenly find out they were all from St. Louis. She always thought it was interesting, because nobody felt that way about LA!
Some will remember Vincent Price returning to town in the 70's to appear, appropriately enough, as the Devil in Damn Yankees and Fagin in Oliver! at the Muny. The Vincent Price Theater hosts student productions at his Alma Mater, Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School, in Ladue.
A number of Price's old "haunts" are still around, in fact. His boyhood home, at 6320 Forsyth, just west of Skinker, is now part of Washington University's sprawling property. Price's grandfather, Vincent Clarence Price, moved to St. Louis in 1904 to sell candy at the World's Fair, grew wealthy from inventing a kind of baking powder, and created the National Candy Company, located near the corner of Gravois and Meramec Street. The huge, now vacant, factory, looking like nothing so much as a spooky set for a Vincent Price film, is still there. For more information about Vincentennial go to:
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