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Vincentennial Offers A Richer View Of A Horror Icon

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 27, 2011 4:40PM

2011_10_27_Price.jpg It surprised us to learn that only two years after Richard Warren Sears moved to Chicago and joined forces with Alvah C. Roebuck, their catalog featured fine art. Perhaps the oil paintings for sale in that 1895 catalog weren't what the Sears Catalog ended up being known for (we still remember it primarily as a compendium of fantasies about what Santa might, in our wildest dreams, bring us). The point is that it would not have been surprising when, in 1962, Sears asked someone to curate and acquire a 2,700-piece art collection to be merchandised nationwide, with costs as low as $5 down and $5 per month. It does seem surprising, to many of us today, who they chose to head it up: Vincent Price.

Yet it should not surprise us. Price was much, much more than the staple of ghoulish cult classics and the owner of a voice heard everywhere from Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare to Michael Jackson's Thriller. The St. Louis native's acting career had a very respectable pre-horror phase, with wonderful performances in movies such as The Ten Commandments, The Baron of Arizona and (one of our favorites) Otto Preminger's Laura. It was as a hard-working and generous professional who was always game for a laugh at the expense of his typecast persona, and famously as a collector of art, that he was remembered by many: he left behind 9,000 works now housed in the Vincent Price Art Museum on the campus of East Los Angeles College.

To commemorate what would be his 100th year, and to mark the holiday closest to the spirit of his memory, the Portage Theater hosts Vincentennial this Saturday night. Victoria Price, Vincent's daughter, will be on hand for a double feature featuring two of the actor's very best films, The House on Haunted Hill and The Last Man on Earth. Price, who authored a book about her father, will give a presentation on the life and career of her father and answer audience questions.

We say fortify yourself with a bowl of poblano chile soup from Vincent Price's own recipe (you did know he was a cookbook author, right?) and enjoy an afternoon of very fitting tribute to the man behind icon.

Vincentennial goes down at 1 p.m. on Sunday, October 30 at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. Come meet Price's daughter, Victoria Price, and watch a double feature of The House on Haunted Hill and The Last Man on Earth. Doors open at 1pm. Tickets are $13 in advance (available online), $15 at the door.