Role models of greatness.

Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Vincent Price

On the set of the film Gods and Monsters, gayness was the subject of lunch discussion among the cast and crew. "Was Vincent Price gay?" someone asked, to which Sir Ian McKellen loudly replied, "Well, he was married to Coral Browne, wasn't he?!"

Vincent Leonard Price, Jr. (1911-1993) was married three times, the last a lavender marriage to lesbian actress Coral Browne. Upon their engagement, the Australian born Browne told critic Bernard Drew: "We've both decided to give up boys". In order to marry, Price converted to Catholicism, and Coral Browne became a U.S. citizen.

Vincent Price was an accomplished art critic and collector, a gourmand, a generous benefactor to those in need, a concerned and active political man, a devoted father – and a celebrated actor (who had a drinking problem). His bisexuality was an open secret to Hollywood insiders, and Scotty Bowers’s recent Hollywood tell-all book, Full Service, mentions that Price used his services to procure men, and Browne to procure women, for sexual gratification. But Price’s sexual predilection was surely the least interesting thing about him.

Price had a “grey” listing by the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings during the McCarthy era, and he made a somewhat shocking deal with them. He was a noted art lecturer in London. Price was involved in the 1959 rigged TV quiz-show hearings for his part in The $64,000 Question. He witnessed the Nazi regime first-hand while living overseas, even attending one of Adolph Hitler's many rallies. He played a young parasitic playboy from Kentucky in the Oscar-winning film Laura (1944, with Clifton Webb and Gene Tierney). Price graduated from Yale, plied the London stage, wrote a cookbook (A Treasury of Great Recipes, 1965), bore a son and a daughter (Victoria, a lesbian who wrote a book about her father), and developed a fine art sales division (1962-1971) for Sears-Roebuck (!). In the late 1960s he played the villain Egghead on ABC’s Batman television series. Back in the 1940s and 50s he was a popular radio actor (The Saint), while decades later Price provided a Sprechstimme “rap” contribution to Michael Jackson’s 1983 Thriller song track and video. He hosted BBC radio and PBS television series. In 1976 he was a featured guest on The Muppet Show. And that’s not the half.

Somewhere in there I forgot to mention the horror movies, his greatest legacy. Price's first venture into the horror genre was the 1939 Boris Karloff film Tower of London. There followed House of Wax (1953), The Fly (1958) and a string of movies based on the writings of Edgar Allan Poe: House of Usher (1960), The Pit and the Pendulum (1961) and The Raven (1963) chief among them.

Not bad for the son of a candy company president from St. Louis (Vincent Leonard Price Sr.). A lifelong smoker, Price died of lung cancer in 1993 at the age of 82, by which time he had packed in enough activity for three or four lifetimes. If you find yourself in the Los Angeles suburb of Monterrey Park, stop by the East Los Angeles College campus to visit the Vincent and Mary Price Gallery and the Vincent Price Art Museum, the repository of Price’s art collection, comprising some 9,000 items valued at more than $5 million.

15 comments:

  1. who cares if he was gay.....who cares if anyone is gay as long as they are secure in themselves and happy with who they are.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As author of this blog, I hope many people care that the men I feature are/were bisexual/gay. I started this blog as a response to the spate of teenagers who committed suicide because of bullying. It is my hope that younger readers will realize that these men can be considered as role models, that it is possible to be successful and gay, and that many of the leaders in various fields of endeavor are gay and bisexual men. That's why I care that they are gay. Comments? E-mail me at b2655@aol.com

      Delete
    2. Please go on, this is a very good task.

      Delete
    3. I look things up like this because there was so much stigma about sexual orientation in the past (and still is to some degree). At times I wonder how many of the famous struggled with whether to stay in the closet or not, and whether they faced rejection when they "came out." I think it is sad that anyone feels the need to stay hidden, and it is sad that so many then, and now have to feel alone or scared in being who they are.

      Delete
    4. I see no need to question or exploit his Sexual Orientation as he was by far one of the greatest talents to hit the Stage and Screen.

      Delete
    5. This is by far not a Judgement on this Man's Sexual orientation. He was by far the greatest talent to ever grace both the screen and Stage.

      Delete
    6. Role models matter. It's nice - even today, in fact - to have public figures who are gay/bi to look up to, and say you can become what you want to become, even if you're gay/bi.

      Delete
  2. I care.....because Ive had a life long man crush on Vincent.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very interesting article, Vincent was a very good role model.He is a man to be admired. Being a straight male I don't see him as sexy but you have to respect a man with his kind of good will and integrity. When I was a boy in the 60's my friends and I would stay up late on Friday nights watching his movies. They were awesome. Very good childhood memories.

    ReplyDelete
  5. You might also want to mention (since you brought it up in your post) that Vincent Price definitely renounced his Nazi views when he matured (& I use the word deliberately). While it's an old chestnut to say "some of my beat friends are Jewish", he really did have actual friends who were Jewish later in life (not the phony friendships bigots claim to have to cover their hatred). His daughter wrote all about it in her biography.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I met and worked with Vincent Price on the Sears art show which toured Canada in the early to mid 60's. He was the first 'Star' I had ever met and I was infatuated (though not sexually) with his generosity, his warmth, and his knowledge of art. He was absolutely intriguing. I watched as he met all of the visitors and staff at the show. I learned so much from him and treasure those memories of a summer now long gone. Of all my travels and visits to art galleries around the world, I still remember his descriptions of fine art. Thanks Mr. Price!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Come to find out (with allot of research) Vincent Price is my great great great uncle. I found that very fascinating

    ReplyDelete
  8. I came to this site after seeing Vincent on an episode of Have Gun Will Travel.He was playing an actor and it crossed my mind," I didn't know he was gay!"Being born and raised in San Francisco I usually know gay people by being around them all my life.For some reason I wanted to know if I was right or not.

    ReplyDelete