He Was Legend

This weekend the fan-boys and girls will be flocking to their local cineplex to bask in the latest bastardization of a classic story; I Am Legend, re-imagined, and reworked for the MTV generation - complete with a tacked on happy ending (or so I hear).

If you've ever read Richard Matheson's chilling novella about a scientist who inexplicably survives a plague that leaves the rest of humanity either dead or turned into vampire-like creatures, you know what a powerful but ultimately, depressing tale Legend truly is.

The story was adapted twice before it's current incarnation as Will Smith's latest blockbuster - in 1971 it was presented as, The Omega Man ( a dreadful adaptation that stared Charlton Heston), and prior to that it was released as The Last Man on Earth in 1964 and stared the quintessential sci-fi/horror thespian of all time, Mr. Vincent Price.

Born into a wealthy family from St. Louis Missouri in 1911, Price began his acting career in the late 1930s and was celebrated for his rather urbane style. He made several films with screen beauty, Gene Tierney including the melodrama, Laura, and the forerunner to Fatal Attraction; Leave Her To Heaven.

But for most of us, Vincent Price will always be membered for his numerous roles in horror and science fiction. From The Fly to Dr. Phibes, Price seemed at home in morbid cinematic offerings, whether he was playing the villain or the victim.

So what are we doing celebrating Mr. Price on a "queer horror film blog"? Because, rumors concerning his sexuality were rampant thorough out his life. And though he married three times (not that means anything at all - Hello, Tom Cruise); there are stories that many in the business assumed he was gay.

Of course it might be all circumstantial; but what circumstances. For instance:

* Price's former gardener was none other than gay porn star, Fred Halstead.

* His third wife, Coral Brown, was said to have been an infamous 'fag hag', and was rumored to be a lesbian as well.

* Price's daughter, Victoria, (an out lesbian) has acknowledged that her father's sexuality was often discussed in Hollywood, though she indicates that she has never met anyone who could concretely answer the question concerning the subject.

* According to Victoria, when Price got older, a group of mostly gay men became his care-givers.

The world will probably never know the real story about this genteel person who collected art, was an accomplished cook (who published several cook books), and, from all accounts, a genuinely nice guy.

What we are left with is an impressive body of film work that ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous, several recordings (including voice overs for pop songs from both Alice Cooper and Michael Jackson) , and countless televison appearances.

The last time America saw Vincent Price on the silver screen was in Edward Scissorhands where he played the kindly old inventor who was about to give Edward a heart made from a cookie, but before he could do this, his character died. - An appropriate final act from a man who gave so much of his own heart.

Gay or straight, Vincent Price was one of a kind. He Was Legend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have always loved Vincent Price. The campy joys of Theater of Blood, Dr. Phibes, Madhouse, House on haunted Hill, Fall of the House of usher and so many more. he was always a sheer queer delight.