In her book, Vincent Price: A Daughter’s Biography, Victoria Price explored the many facets of her famous father. The Hollywood legend, who died in 1993, enjoyed a career on stage and screen that spanned some 60 years, and the urbane actor remains the preeminent horror icon of our time.
While the younger Price addressed the persistent rumors surrounding her father’s sexuality, she refrained from offering a definitive opinion on the matter. But in an exclusive interview with Boom Magazine promoting her parent’s newly re-released cult-classic cookbook, the Hollywood daughter opens up about the speculation.
“Everybody asks me: was your dad bisexual, was he bisexual,” said Price. “And it was Roddy McDowall who said to me, you know, we didn’t have any idea what bisexuality meant in that sense, and if we didn’t know, then how can we know the answer to that question?”
In fact, the out designer, art consultant, author, and public speaker has been wrestling for decades with just how much of her father’s private life is public domain, as recounted in this 2012 blog post:
I was standing at the bar in West Hollywood, Calif.’s club of the moment one night in the spring of 1989, talking with a group of hip Hollywood women I hardly knew, when a blond woman with a wry expression came over to me and said, “You’re Vincent Price’s daughter. Your father’s gay, isn’t he?” I don’t remember my mumbled reply–except that, sadly, it wasn’t very witty–“I don’t know” or “He was married three times.” But I do remember that I was shocked. Not because it was the first time someone had suggested that he might be gay or at the very least bisexual, but because, until that moment, I hadn’t really understood the degree to which my 78-year-old father’s sexuality, whatever it might be, had become public property to be discussed, analyzed, bandied about, as one might share a recipe or chat about the weather. I found it a discomforting revelation.
Price is well aware of America’s fixation with celebrity and the salacious, news-driven, “who had sex with who?” culture in which we live. But she also realizes as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community that there remains a deeply rooted yearning for history and heroes and a personal connection to the past.
“To me, it’s interesting, because as I’ve learned more about my dad’s sexuality, and more than I knew then about different things, I’ve had the choice of what to reveal and what not to reveal,” Price explained. “Since I didn’t hear it from his mouth, I think that everything I hear comes with a measure of hearsay, right?”
“But I would like to say something here because I might as well,” she continued. “I am as close to certain as I can be that my dad had physically intimate relationships with men. I know for 100 percent fact that my dad was completely loving and supportive of LGBT people.”
Growing up in their Hollywood Hills mansion, Price recalls the constant presence of LGBT folks at family gatherings.
“Now, we lived across the street from Rock Hudson and we had a lot of gay friends growing up,” she recalled. “I mean, “Uncle Rupert and Uncle Frank” came to every dinner party and it was very clear that they were together. And while the word [gay] was never mentioned, it was very much the norm.”
“I remember at nine-years-old going to drop something off at Rock Hudson’s house — of course, I was super excited because I was a huge Rock Hudson fan,” Price continued. “So this absolutely beautiful man came to the door and in my nine-year-old mind, I thought, oh, that’s – I don’t know if I had a word for it — but that’s his ‘Uncle Frank or Uncle Rupert’, right?”
Price recalls her father’s 1977 one-man-show where he played the openly gay Oscar Wilde to great acclaim and rebuffed the antigay Anita Bryant efforts of the day. In television interviews, Vincent Price said Wilde had already written a play about Ms. Bryant: A Woman of No Importance. She remembers an early advocate who joined PFLAG as an honorary board member and was one of the first celebrities to do public service announcements quelling public fears of AIDS.
“He married a bisexual woman [British actress Coral Browneand] and everybody assumed their marriage was a fraud,” offered Price. “It wasn’t a fraud. It was a totally sexual relationship but they were two people with very open-minded approaches as to what life should look like. And that to me — people who lived this truth in all aspects of their lives — they should be heroes to every community.”
Yet at the end of the day, what remains important to Victoria Price is how her father loved and the lessons learned from experiencing that first hand.
“The interesting thing for me is that when I came out to him and he said to me, ‘you know, I know just how you feel because I have had these deep, loving relationships with men in my life and all my wives were jealous,’” she recalled.
“In a funny way, and I think I’m going to cry, he understood me at 22 better than I understood myself then,” Price concluded. “Of course, he was in his 70s and lived a hell of a lot longer than I had, and he understood that at the end of the day it’s about who and what and how we love. And I have not been a person who has been very successful at conventional relationships, but loving well and loving deeply has been the most important thing to me.”