Friday, May 27, 2016

Happy Birthday, Vincent Price ...

Vincent Price: May 27, 1911 - October 25, 1993

A true class act like no other.
Vincent Price was so much more than merely an actor known for his roles in a plethora of scary films. A best-selling author, radio talent and voice actor as well as a world-renown art collector, the man was talented beyond compare among his contemporaries, cultured and well-educated like few others. We shall never see the likes of him again. 

He was, without a doubt, my favorite actor. 

Now, I have a true Vincent Price story I'd like to share:
Back in the early 1990s, I was working for a publisher in the heart of West Hollywood, on Santa Monica Boulevard. Each day during my lunch hour, I'd go outside and walk around for a bit, enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, as well as the fantastic architecture of the older buildings that WeHo is known for.

Directly next door to the building where I worked was a little market called Mayfair. Occasionally I'd go in there to pick up something to snack on. So this one day in particular - I remember it vividly - was one of those spectacularly sunny, breezy, dry and hot late October days. Just a couple days before Halloween in 1992, to be precise. It felt wondrous to be outside in that weather, away from the confines of the office. 

I stopped in to Mayfair to grab a bite to eat. Now let me preface this by informing the reader that I was one of those people who always carried a small camera in my purse. Back then, I believe it was either a Kodak 110 or Instamatic style (with *FILM* as this was several decades before the advent of digital!). But my reason for always keeping a camera in close proximity was because I was of the mindset that "You never know what you'll see or who you're going to meet" for that perfect photo opp. Plus, it being Hollywood, the what-if factor was upped substantially of running into the who's and what's of the area. And, of course, I also sincerely enjoyed taking photos of pretty sunsets, foliage, and whatnot. 

I'd gotten my lunch and was making my way to the cashier, but, partly in and partly out of the line ahead of me was a very tall, very thin older man who was fussing with a couple small bags of fresh produce in his cart. Tangerines and tomatoes, I recall. His ornate walking cane was hooked over the side of his cart. I was not sure if he was actually in the line, or getting ready to push his cart forward, but being reasonably well-mannered particularly where my elders are concerned, I did not want to just rudely cut ahead of him. I stood there with my little styrofoam tray of salad in my hands, patiently waited about thirty or so seconds, trying to make my presence known, and was about to ask him if he was indeed in line, when he suddenly sensed that I was standing there behind him. He turned around, smiled broadly and said, "I am so sorry, my dear, please go ahead of me!" and patted my hand as he exited the cashier line, turned around, and then got directly behind me.

... AND IT WAS VINCENT PRICE. I think my jaw hit the floor and my eyes bugged out and  my heart began to thunder inside my rib cage. I think I also drooled on myself, but I was in such a state of shock, I don't exactly remember because VINCENT PRICE was less than twelve inches from me.




Okay. Honestly, I'm not the sort who truly gets all gaga over celebrities or so-called glitterati when I run into them, and trust me, I have literally ran into many in my time. 

However, this was not simply your garden-variety celeb du jour. IT WAS VINCENT PRICE!!!

I scarcely recall paying for my food, as I tried to play it cool, and not turn to the side and outright stare at the man. I realized that my hands were shaking as I left the building, thinking that I just had to - HAD TO! - acknowledge him when he exited. I set my lunch down and furiously tunneled through my purse, searching for my camera, but it was not there! In a flash I remembered that the previous night, I'd removed it in order to bring in the film for developing, and, well, never put the damn thing back inside. I was devastated! The ONE TIME I really truly and desperately wanted to have a photo with a celeb that I actually loved and respected, and Miss Dunderbrains left her stinkin' camera at home.

Well, upset as I was, I decided that I nevertheless had to say something to him, or risk dying a hugely miserable person. And a few moments later, as a box boy carried his bags to his car, Mr. Price strode with his grand walking cane toward where I was standing. I took a deep breath and approached him. 

I said to him, "Mr. Price, I just wanted to tell you that I am a lifelong fan, and have seen every one of your movies. I love you!" (But actually, I think it was hastily blurted out more in the way a complete blithering idiot would say it)

He looked at me with those beautiful, expressive crystal blue eyes that crinkled mischievously in the corners, smiled again very broadly and with great warmth, and replied, "Oh, thank you so much, my dear! That is so very kind of you to say! I love you too. Happy Halloween!" 


The next sound to be heard was my feet being quickly whooshed off the pavement, as I floated in a delirious little cloud back to my cubicle in the mundane little office I worked in next door...

Again, this event - this TRUE EVENT! - transpired but a few days before Halloween in 1992. 

Mr. Price died almost exactly one year to the day afterward.

RIP, dear Sir. You are missed.

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