It’s essentially impossible to talk about classic horror movies without mentioning the actor Vincent Price. With his silken voice, laugh, and presence, his villains were always debonair, yet menacing—making him a staple in early Hollywood horror. Price was born to a family of means in St. Louis in 1911 and got his big break in 1953 when he starred in "House of Wax," which was one of the first films shot in 3D. For Price's portrayal of the murderous, but seemingly kindly, sculptor who uses human victims to populate his eerily lifelike wax museum, he soon became America’s master of horror; and he was instrumental in reestablishing the genre’s popularity. Later, he performed in such films as "The Fly” (1958), "House on Haunted Hill" (1958), "Return of the Fly" (1959), and "The Tingler" (1959), among many others. However, Price did not limit himself to acting. During his time, he lectured on primitive and modern art, served on committees and boards of several arts organizations, and authored numerous books on film, cooking, and art. By the time Price passed away in 1993, he had more than 200 acting credits across film, television, and theater.
His uniquely cultivated persona was the result of a well-rounded education, which certainly was tied to his college days at Yale University. Having attended the Milford Academy in Connecticut, the budding thespian entered Yale in 1929. There, he studied art history and English, which was considered an honor at the time, because during those days at Yale, students had to be on the dean’s list in order to study electives like art history. “I made an effort and got on the list, so that the last two years I took almost entirely art courses,” he said in a 1992 interview with the Smithsonian Archives of American Art. Along with studying, he frequented theaters and art galleries. He also joined the Yale Glee Club and worked on the campus humor magazine: The Yale Record. His efforts eventually culminated in a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1933.
Later in life, Price credited his time at Yale for helping to cement his lifelong love of art. “The indoctrination of art at Yale . . . really set my life’s pattern,” he said in a 1992 interview. In addition, he acknowledged one of his Yale English professors—who taught Shakespeare—as being a significant influence on his career. “That was very important to me, and certainly aimed me towards the theater," Price said. Since then, Yale has acquired the "Vincent Price Papers." Housed in the library’s Manuscripts and Archives department, this extensive collection includes a wide range of material, including personal correspondence, a manuscript for one of his books, and annotated scripts for his radio, stage, and television performances. Among these annotated screenplays at Yale, one can find the actor's personal copy of “Edward Scissorhands,” which was his final feature film, having been created especially for the actor by director Tim Burton, who had watched all of Price’s films as a child.