Most of the impact Vincent Price had would be upon the horror genre. Indeed, it is safe to say that he is one of the five best known horror actors of all time, alongside Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Peter Cushing (whose birthday falls a day before Mr. Price's), and Sir Christopher Lee (who shares his birthday with Mr. Price). When it came to horror movies Vincent Price occupied a position he shared with Peter Cushing. Unlike Messrs. Karloff, Lugosi, and Lee, Messrs. Price and Cushing rarely if ever played monsters. Instead they played mortal men, who were either bent on revenge, created monsters, or fought monsters. Indeed, it was not unusual for either Peter Cushing or Vincent Price to play the hero in their films. What set Vincent Price apart from Peter Cushing is that often Mr. Cushing had to share billing with Sir Christopher Lee, while Vincent Price was almost always the star of his movies.
It is perhaps because of this that Vincent Price would have a lasting impact on horror movies. Indeed, it can be argued that Mr. Price was partly responsible for the shift back to Gothic horror away from science fiction horror in the late Fifties. Even before Hammer Films released their classic Curse of Frankenstein (1957), Vincent Price had starred in such Gothic horror movies as House of Wax (1953) and The Mad Magician (1954). After Hammer Films had released Curse of Frankenstein, Vincent Price would appear in even more Gothic horror pictures, including the original House on Haunted Hill (1958) and House of Usher (1960). While there can be no doubt that much of the shift back to Gothic horror movies in the late Fifties was due to Hammer Films, much of the responsibility rests with Vincent Price as well.
The lasting impact which Vincent Price's films had on pop culture in general can be seen in the many references to them. This is particularly true of The Fly (1958), which has been referenced in everything from The Simpsons too the movie Matinee (1993). Similarly, House of Wax has also been referenced in pop culture often, in everything from the sitcom Get Smart to the movie Monsters vs. Aliens (2009). These movies are hardly the exception to the rule, as a large number of Mr. Price's films, from The Invisible Man Returns (1940) to The Abominable Dr. Phibes, are referenced in pop culture with an alarming regularity.
In later years Vincent Price's position as one of the foremost actors in the horror genre would lead him to being involved in horror oriented projects. On Alice Cooper's concept album Welcome to My Nightmare, Vincent Price provided narration for the song "The Black Widow." Later he would provide narration for the Michael Jackson song "Thriller" from the album of the same name. He would host the BBC Radio programme The Price of Fear and for a time the American radio Tales of the Unexplained. Vincent Price would also provide the narration for Tim Burton's classic short film and tribute to him, "Vincent." From 1981 to 1989 he was the host of the PBS show Mystery!
Indeed, Vincent Price's contribution to the world not only went beyond the horror genre, but beyond acting in film, period. Vincent Price had majored in art in college and his love of art continued until his death. He was well known as an art collector, and in 1951 he started donating fine art to East Los Angeles College. By 1957 the Vincent and Mary Price Art Gallery would be founded at the college. It would evolve into the Vincent Price Art Museum, which still exists today. He was also a member of the Cortauld Institute in London, England, dedicated to the study of art history. He was also a gourmet cook who not only authored cookbooks, but hosted a cooking show called Cooking Pricewise.
Nowhere would Vincent Price's influence be more acutely felt than his home state of Missouri. While he spent much of his time elsewhere, Mr. Price never forgot the state in which he was born. He started maintaining close ties with Northeast Missouri State University in Kirksville (now Truman State University) late in his life. It was about 1960 that Mr. Price first appeared at NMSU, appearing nearly every year at the university for nearly thirty years. He even taught workshops on both acting and art history at the university. In 1984 Mr. Price founded the Vincent Price Theatrical Performance scholarship at the university, awarded to those who have demonstrated talent in acting.
It is because of Vincent Price's contributions to film, acting, art, cooking, and his home state that today there is a Vincentennial--a celebration of the 100th birthday of Vincent Price--being held in St. Louis. Today's celebration is the culmination of a two week celebration, during which his films are being viewed and his daughter Victoria will give a speech. Many other famous actors have been born in St. Louis and still more in the state of Missouri, but perhaps none are as beloved as Vincent Price.
In the end it must be concluded that Vincent Price is not only remembered as a great actor, but as a great man. He was scholar, a professional, and a true gentleman. Not only did he show concern for his fellow actors on the screen on the stage, but even for his fans. Living here in Missouri I have friends who had the honour of meeting Mr. Price when he would visit NMSU. In every instance he not only gave my friends autographs, but talked with them as well. A cultured intellectual born to wealth, Mr. Price treated everyone he met as a human being. He may have played many villains in his films, but in reality Vincent Price was man of honour and integrity. If he is remembered today, then, it is not simply because he was a great actor, but a great man, period.