Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy Birthday Vincent Price!

Today I'd like to celebrate that master of camp horror, Vincent Price, on the 97th anniversary of his birthday. He's long been a favourite of mine, though ironically my first introduction to him as a kid was seeing him on the TV game show, "Hollywood Squares"! However, I soon thereafter started catching his movies on TV, particularly all of his Edgar Allan Poe adaptations for director Roger Corman. While most of these films were played fairly straight, it was the more comic film, "The Raven" that I liked the best, especially since it costarred veterans, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff. I also like the black humoured, "Theatre of Blood", which I understand was a favourite of Price himself.

Back in 1976 I decided to write a fan letter to Vincent Price, along with sending him a caricature I had drawn of him at that time. I took a chance and sent it care of "Hollywood Squares", as I didn't know where else to send it. Happily it found him, and sometime later I received this postcard back from him thanking me for the sketch. As you can imagine, this 16 year old kid was overjoyed!

A couple years later I was doing cartoons for "The Ottawa Citizen" newspaper, including the occasional celebrity caricature for the entertainment section. One of the writers on staff, Tony Lofaro, was keen to use my work and one day he called me to ask if I was aware that Vincent Price was coming to Ottawa's National Arts Centre to appear in "Diversions and Delights", his one man show portraying Oscar Wilde. I'd actually already purchased a ticket to go see the show, but Tony was offering something better. He knew I was a huge fan of Price and told me that there was a small press gathering to be held at the NAC prior to his performance and that, since Tony himself couldn't make it, would I like to use his press pass and attend myself? Wow! Obviously I took him up on the offer.

The press gathering was indeed a rather intimate affair with not more than about 10 or 12 people in attendance, including Gord Atkinson, a local radio personality who had a syndicated show that celebrated the Golden Age of entertainment. It was held in a large conference room at the National Arts Centre with a big rectangular table that we all sat at. Without much delay, Vincent Price arrived and greeted us all very warmly. After doing an interview for Gord Atkinson, he proceeded to take questions from us all regarding his career. During the whole interview I had been busily sketching a caricature of him as he spoke, which I will scan in later today and add here tomorrow. Afterward, we all got to chat very informally with Price and I presented him with a caricature that I'd painted and framed up beforehand. Also, to my thrill, somebody took a photo of us together and promised to send me a print. Though the quality of the photo is not great, it is still a very treasured momento of a very wonderful day. As you can see, I was a pretty scruffy looking 18 year old teen!

I'll always recall that Vincent Price was a very warm and kind gentleman who took the time to chat with a young fan about his films and made everybody feel very welcome that day. He was a class act and I miss him very much.

PS: Sorry I haven't posted much lately. I even missed my post count hitting the 100,000 mark! Thanks for coming back despite my tardiness - I'll try to post more often! :)


Amir Avni said...

"Heyy Scoob!"

What an honor to meet Vincent price,
And the caricatures are so well done!

Good stuff Pete!

David said...

What a thrilling story. I would have loved to have met Vincent Price.

Wonderful caricatures.

Joe Bluhm said...



So cool Peter!
Look at that beard!!!ha,ha
Great story too!I used to have a Biology teacher in high school who was his twin!! I'll see if I can dig it up and show you.


Great caricature of Vincent !!!

Kevin Kidney said...

Love the shot of you at 18, Pete! That must've been exciting to meet Mr. Price!

Also I had no idea he and I shared the same birthday: May 27!

Beast said...

Awesome Caricature.
I met Vincent Price when I was in high School. He was a really nice gentleman.

Mitchel Kennedy said...

Pete! that must have been awesome to meet someone you were so keen on! And for an 18-year-old, you could really draw!

And boy-oh-boy! You were scruffy! I'm still scruffy. I think it's a young-man's right of passage. haha

Jamie said...

how cool, Pete! if only everyone could be so lucky.

Brian Sibley said...

Another superb caricature. Thanks for sharing it - and the wonderful story!