By LEONARD HUGHES
Beyond question, Vincent Price
is one the horror genre's most recognizable icons. His
daughter, Victoria, has recently completed a memoir
of her famous father in which we learn (among other
things) that one of filmdom's leading fiends was a big
kid at heart. The following interview reveals much about
Victoria's mischievous father and the relationship they
What is your full name? (Are you named for anyone in
your family or for any prominent celebrities in the
VICTORIA PRICE: My full name is Mary Victoria
Price. My mother, my brother, and I all go by our middle
names. So my first name is the same as my mother's middle
name. And Victoria was chosen because my father's first
big hit was Victoria Regina with Helen Hayes, and my
mother spent her teenage years growing up in Victoria,
Many folks prefer to give a flip answer for this one,
but ... how old are you?
VICTORIA: I am 37. I was born on April 27.
Where do you live now and what occupies most of your
VICTORIA: I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I
write for television -- A&E Biography and AMC,
etc. I also write for magazines. And I am working on
two books, one of which is for an interesting series
that will be coming out at the beginning of 2001 called
Hollywood Legends. I also teach writing, literature,
and languages. (I have finished everything but my dissertation
for my PhD.) My avocation is horses. I compete in reining,
which will be the first Western riding discipline to
become an Olympic sport. I compete all over the West.
How did your father affect your current choice of activities
in your life? (For instance, did he inspire you in some
way to write your forthcoming book?)
VICTORIA: My father always encouraged me to
write. I wrote a one-woman show while I was in college
about Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker, and Edna St.
Vincent Millay. He loved it and encouraged me to write
from then on. At the end of his life we worked on a
book about art together, which was the genesis for this
Who are you most close to in your life now?
VICTORIA: I am very close to my brother (he's
my half-brother really), who lives 60 miles away in
Albuquerque. Even though we're 22 years apart in age,
we are very good friends.
Would you share some of your personal memories of your
VICTORIA: My favorite memories of my father
have to do with the ocean. When I was a little girl,
we had a beach house where we spent every weekend that
he was home. He loved the ocean, and we would spend
hours beachcombing -- walking up and down the sand looking
for moonstone, great pieces of driftwood and perfectly
flat stones that we could skip. He also loved to deep-sea
fish, so from time to time we would go out on the boat
and spend the day together. On those days he looked
weathered and scruffy and perfectly at peace with the
Most of us know Vincent Price as an actor with a great
deal of class and a well-tuned sense of humor. And many
of us recall being terrifically frightened by his classic
films. What was he like as a father? (Specifically,
what things did he do that made him a typical father;
and what are the things about him that made him unique
as a father?)
VICTORIA: The best thing about him as a father
was his unending sense of fun. He was infinitely curious
about the world around him, which was great for a kid.
Kids are full of wonder and to have that wonder mirrored
in an adult made me feel like the world was a place
full of limitless possibilities. My friends all remember
him taking us trick or treating. There was one street
in Beverly Hills that had the most elaborate houses,
and we would take our motor home and park it at the
top of that street and then my dad would walk us all
from door to door. He was a great dad, although he wasn't
around as much as I would have wished. On the other
hand, that was some of what made time with him so special.
What were some of the activities that you participated
in with your father?
VICTORIA: We went deep-sea fishing together
and we went to amusement parks to ride roller coasters
and play games of chance. He was a big kid at heart.
He would drive 50 miles to find some dumpy restaurant
that he had heard about where they made great taquitos.
He had a great sense of adventure. And we loved going
to baseball games to watch the Dodgers and listen to
Did he take you to the movies? What were some of them?
What is your most vivid recollection of that?
VICTORIA: I remember going to a double feature
of Fiddler on the Roof and Man of La Mancha.
We thought they would never end. I also remember going
to see Earthquake at Graumann's Chinese. I was
scared to death, and he thought that was the silliest
thing in the world, to be scared of a movie.
What are your childhood memories of his film work? Did
his movies scare you? Can you remember an incident?
VICTORIA: I was terrified of his movies. Because
I had a vivid imagination, I had a hard time distinguishing
film from reality, and I was very distressed that he
was always being killed. And bludgeoned, immolated,
riddled with bullets etc. -- not a pretty Camille-like
demise in any of his films. So I rarely watched his
movies. The first time I saw him in a play, it was Peter
Pan, and he was Captain Hook. I had a fit and my
mother had to bring me backstage during intermission.
I thought something had happened to my father's hand,
and he had to take the hook on and off to show that
his hand was still there.
Did you ever visit the sets? Can you recall any anecdotes
or images from being in the wings of a Vincent Price
VICTORIA: My father loved to play little jokes.
So when we were in England while he was doing Theater
of Blood, we went out to the old theatre where many
of the scenes were being filmed. As we got out of the
car, all these bums and tramps and scary-looking people
started harassing us, asking us for money, pawing at
our clothes. I was terrified, but my father calmly gave
them each a little money. I can't remember when I finally
figured out that they were actors.
What other celebrities did you meet as you were growing
up? Who hung around the house or came over for dinner?
VICTORIA: Among the celebrities that I knew
best were Roddy McDowall, Hans Conried, Red Skelton,
Eddie Albert, Dorothy McGuire, Mary Wickes, Helen Hayes.
I met Lucille Ball, Joan Crawford, Boris Karloff, Robert
Wagner, Joseph Cotten.
Did your father ever bring his work home? Did he scare
kids in the neighborhood, rehearse lines late into the
night, put on any special performances around holidays?
VICTORIA: Once when we were staying at a hotel
in New York, I lost my tooth. So I put it under my pillow,
hoping for a nickel the next morning. What I found was
some disgusting corroded old denture. He thought that
What were you father's favorite pastimes?
VICTORIA: Going to museums and galleries. Buying
art. Looking at art books. Cooking. Gardening -- growing
his incredible cymbidium orchid collection. Deep-sea
fishing. Eating anything and everything. Listening to
I recall his TV appearances in shows such as The
Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Columbo.Did he watch
TV? What were his favorite shows?
VICTORIA: He loved watching Jeopardy.
He religiously watched Crossfire and screamed
at the conservatives. He loved PBS -- Mystery, Civilization,
almost anything on PBS.
Did he go to the movies? Do recall his favorite films?
Who were his favorite performers?
VICTORIA: His favorite performer was Ronald
Colman. He thought Ava Gardner was fabulous.
What films did he especially not like?
VICTORIA: He hated modern slasher horror movies.
What films of his own do you think he enjoyed most?
Can you name any of his own movies that he complained
VICTORIA: I think his three favorites would
have been Laura, Champagne for Caesar, and
Theater of Blood. He hated quite a few of the crappy
AIP movies in the mid-60s. He had a really good sense
of humor about the BAD movies like Green Hell and
Son of Sinbad.
An amazing feature of your father's career is the extremely
wide range of his subject matter. He did some downright
silly films such as Dr. Goldfoot and some timeless
classics including Laura. In his more recent
films, Edward Scissorhands and Whales of August,
he turned in highly acclaimed performances. Did he ever
talk about the different directions he was always capable
of taking in his career?
VICTORIA: Yes, I think it frustrated him sometimes
that people did not know he was capable of such a wide
range. Whales of August was a real gift, because
Lindsay Anderson gave him a chance to play a part that
was so much against type. He did an incredible one-man
show about Oscar Wilde that was one of the best things
he ever did. He regretted that more people did not know
about that. At the same time, he was very grateful for
the identification that the horror films had afforded
PRICE PICKS HER VINCENT PRICE TOP 10
Leonard Hughes, a leading authority on the works of
Walker Percy, is an editor and theater critic for The
Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography by Victoria
Price is available from St. Martin's Press and online