Vincent Price dies of lung cancer at age 82



LOS ANGELES (AP)—Vincent Price, with insinuating voice and menacing face, used warm humor against his warped reputation as the horror king of Hollywood.

Price died Monday at age 82 of lung cancer he fought for five years.

He had faith in his own versatility and was amused when the public viewed him solely as a master of menace.

Consider the woman in Houston who once asked him to bite her neck. Price obliged, though he had never played Dracula. ‘‘My, was she surprised!’‘ he grinned as he recounted the story.

‘‘He could do anything,’‘ said his friend Bob Hope. ‘‘He could do a heavy, and he could do light comedy. Not many like Vincent Price. Never was.’‘

Price began as a classical actor, though he had no pretensions about the profession. He cheerfully lent his authority to schlock like ‘‘Rage of the Buccaneers,’‘ ‘‘Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs,’‘ ‘‘The Conqueror Worms’‘ and ‘‘It’s Not the Size That Counts.’‘

His reputation as a scare merchant was established in the 1953 3-D thriller, ‘‘House of Wax.’‘

During the 1960s, Price appeared with Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Lon Chaney Jr. and others in a series of Edgar Allan Poe movies made by Roger Corman.

Price demonstrated his wit and knowledge on TV shows, including ‘‘Pantomime Quiz,’‘ ‘‘Hollywood Squares’‘ and ‘‘The $64,000 Question.’‘ In every performance, even a TV commercial for a bathroom cleaner, Price never coasted.

‘‘It’s awfully easy to get out of the business, it’s not easy to stay in,’‘ he said in a 1988 interview. ‘‘I never felt that the great parts were the only things you should do. That’s a great mistake, because there are so many interesting things available.’‘

His approach to life was open-mindedness and willingness to explore. ‘‘You never know where things will lead you,’‘ Price mused.

Price’s interest in art—his first ambition was to be a painter but he didn’t think he had enough talent—led to a collection that he constantly replenished.

He opened a gallery, donated paintings to a local college, even selected 15,000 works of art aimed at working-class Americans through the Sears catalog.

Price’s hobby of gourmet cooking produced a cookbook that sold 350,000 copies.

He contributed a ghostly voice to Michael Jackson’s hit record, ‘‘Thriller,’‘ played the creator of ‘‘Edward Scissorhands’‘ in the 1990 film and was host of the PBS series ‘‘Mystery’‘ during the 1980s.

‘‘Losing Vinny is a sad thing,’‘ said Charlton Heston, who appeared with Price in ‘‘The Ten Commandments.’‘

‘‘He had a long, good career and a fine life. He was in a sense the ideal of what we expect actors to be in the field: He was not only a good actor, he was a thorough-going professional. That combination is not all that common.’‘

Price’s marriage to Edith Barrett ended in divorce in 1948. In 1949, he married costume designer Mary Grant. They had a daughter, Mary, and divorced in 1973. His third wife was the Australian actress Coral Browne, who died in May 1991.

Price is survived by two daughters, a son and two grandsons.

The family planned to hold a private funeral and memorial service at a time to be determined. Price asked that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the art gallery he founded 40 years ago at East Los Angeles City College.