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 shared.
LEONARD HUGHES: 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, British Columbia.
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 biography.
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
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
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 Vin Scully.
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 movie?
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
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 was
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 opera.
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 about?
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.
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
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 him.
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 Washington
Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography by Victoria
Price is available from St. Martin's Press and online through