Monday, November 9, 2009

A Dash of Vincent Price

His grandfather became famous for his Cream of Tartar (I have a vintage can of it), and he became famous in Horror. 

Los Angeles is the home of many celebrities.  From the late 1970s through 1990, I worked at a store in Sherman Oaks that had many celebrity clients.  There was an unwritten rule in the store that you were not allowed to "show yourself as a fan" of any of the famous people.  Often, the reason they patronized the store was because of the relaxed atmosphere, where they could shop in peace.

Roddy McDowell was a longtime customer of our store, and that - to me - was cool enough.  Who could forget him in "The Legend of Hell House" or the pilot episode of "Night Gallery"?   I liked Roddy, I spoke to him, and he was a great photographer.

Imagine how strange it was for me the day that Roddy walked in with Vincent Price, both of them bantering with each other.   I grew up watching and being frightened of them both, they were Horror Heroes to me.  But because of store policy, I was not allowed to say a word. 

Vincent eventually became a regular customer at the store, although most of what he purchased was often through Roddy or on the phone.   By 1990, I knew it was time for me to move on to a new job, and I recall that on one of my last days, a very tired Vincent Price, all alone, walked into the store.  He was rather weak due to his poor health at the time.  He sat in a chair, alone, for about 20 minutes while waiting for our store manager to return.  I could plainly see that this wonderful legend was nearing the end of his life.  I was nearing the end of my job.  I walked past him, and Vincent looked up to acknowledge me with a smile and nod.  For a brief moment, I thought it would be OK to break store rules and tell this amazing man how much I admired everything he had done in life. After all, what could they do, fire me?

But I chickened out.  To this day,  I can still see him sitting alone in that chair, as though at that moment my mind had taken a permanent photograph. 

Vincent died October 25, 1993.  I'm sure he was trying his best to hold on until Halloween day as a final  joke to us all.  

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