Oral History: Vincent Price and the Myth of Hollywood

by Jack Tewksbury September 19, 2019
Actor Vincent Price

bettman/getty images

For over 40 years the HFPA has recorded famous and celebrated actresses, actors and filmmakers. The world's largest collection of its kind - over 10,000  items - is now in the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences Margaret Herrick Library.

In this excerpt from our archives from 1987 - a very busy year for an always very busy man, especially after his participation in Michael Jackson's "Thriller" - Vincent Price recalls his first years in Hollywood.

“There is no Hollywood really.  You all keep it alive more than the people who work in it.  Really do.  You keep up the myth of Hollywood which was always a myth except there was a kind of reality to it too. The studios created the reality. I was under contract to Fox for seven years and it was marvelous.  You voted for the Fox pictures.  You were told if you didn’t, you wouldn’t work again. That’s not true but you had a kind of loyalty to it. In those days there was a mystery about Hollywood.  It isn’t anymore. There are cinema courses in every college in America and they know more about movies, more about making movies than I do. 

“The mystery, I think, had a great deal going for it.  I think the reality does too.  I think probably the thing that has changed most is the relaxation of censorship (the Hays Code, enforced by the studios from 1930 to 1968).  I did a picture that was a very famous, successful picture called The Fly (Kurt Neumann, 1958). They did a remake (David Cronenberg, 1986) of it, which was very, very good and very exciting and did tremendous box office. It is so violent. It really put me off until the end of it.  I found that I was laughing because nobody was left alive. You know, and people  were dissolving and spit was coming out and it was an entirely different thing than ours where you were told to imagine what  it was like largely due to censorship.”