I was first privileged to meet Vincent Price in 1967 when he made an appearance on The Mike
Douglas Show where I was Executive Producer. From the very first moment it was clear what a
charming, personable and witty guy he was. He returned to the show several times and we
became fast friends.
For one of his appearances I gave him a copy of The Tell Tale Heart by Poe and suggested he
read it for us. Standing at a podium in the darkened studio before a rapt audience he gave a
When I moved to Hollywood in 1970 I called Vincent to suggest that we do a TV special in which
he would enact the same story plus three others that Poe had written in the first person and
which leant themselves to a one-man show.
He was very excited about the prospect and invited me to his grand old Spanish mansion with
its cathedral ceiling on Beverly Glen Boulevard. He and his wife Mary had bought for a song in
the early fifties and then spent two decades lovingly restoring. I was greeted by Vincent, Mary
and their young daughter Victoria – who welcomed me like family.
Having tea in their fabulous gourmet kitchen I told him the other three stories were The Sphinx,
The Cask of Amontillado and The Pit and the Pendulum. We kicked around the possibilities and
all got very excited. Mary, a talented costume designer, volunteered to handle the wardrobe. It
was to be a family affair entitled Vincent Price in An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe.
He introduced me to Sam Arkoff, head of American International Pictures, who had him under
contract and Sam agreed to finance the project. David Welch, my best friend from high school
and a talented writer, helped me edit Poe’s stories and then Vincent and I started rehearsing. At
first we worked in his cavernous living room surrounded by his museum-quality pre-Columbian
artifacts. Later we moved to the Masonic Temple across Hollywood Boulevard from Grauman’s
Chinese Theater to finalize the rehearsals.
We spent much time talking about the four different characters he would portray and finding
nuances distinctive to each. He was a grand collaborator and despite his many years of
seniority he was always eager to receive my directorial input. We had great fun “discovering”
the characters and the rich, revealing moments inherent in the text. Vincent worked from cue
cards, but by the time we were ready to tape the show he had all but memorized the entire text.
We taped the four stories in the order that they appear at the old ABC Studios on Prospect
Avenue in East Hollywood over Easter Sunday weekend, 1970. Many photos of the production
and us working behind the scenes can be found in the Photo Gallery on this web page.
The TV crew, seeing it for the first time was stunned by what they witnessed: Vincent’s work
was nothing short of electrifying. Indeed, in all his interviews afterward he said that it was the
best work he had ever done in his career. You can imagine how gratified that made me feel. It is
available on DVD and to this day holds fond memories for me – as well as preserving forever
Vincent’s extraordinary performance.
Another illuminating personal remembrance: before meeting Vincent I had once met George C.
Scott and told him how intimidated I felt because of my admiration for his enormous talent. Scott
laughed and told me how overwhelmed he had felt as a young actor finding himself at a
gathering with Sir Laurence Olivier. And when Olivier walked over to say hello, Scott had been
so flustered as he stood up that he spilled his drink all over Sir Laurence. – When I told Vincent
that story, he laughed and recalled himself as a young actor being at a party with one of his
idols: the great Dame Judith Anderson. When she came over to introduce herself to Vincent he
had nervously taken a step backwards and sat in a punch bowl. He said Dame Judith had
howled and they instantly became great friends.
The last time I saw my dear friend was many years later when my wife Susie and I flew up to San
Francisco to join Vincent for opening night of his one-man show of Oscar Wilde. He totally
inhabited Wilde’s persona, of course, gave an exhilarating performance and brought the
audience to their feet for his curtain call.
When we went backstage afterward, Vincent called us into his dressing room and, meeting
Susie for the first time, he gave her a huge kiss and the grandest of greetings – making her part
of his family at once.
Susie and I have a daughter, Katie, who was born nine years after Vincent and I did the Poe
Special. She discovered Vincent in Edward Scissorhands and became an ardent fan. She was
so sad that he had died before I might have introduced her to him.
Katie has created a wonderful memorial to his work. The link is on this web page and I heartily
recommend it to all those – like Katie, Susie and me – who appreciate the artistic work of this
master actor, true gentleman and dear, dear human being whom I am so proud to have called