I first met Robert at the Monster Bash Convention in Pittsburgh sometime in the early 2000s, probably around '03 or so. Anyone who has ever met Robert immediately becomes his friend - outgoing, friendly, gregarious, and funny as all get out, he is also a HUGE collector to boot, of memorabilia from movies and more, new and old.
A couple of years later at the Wonderfest Convention in Louisville Robert introduced me to his cousin Sara. Once again, one of the nicest and sweetest folks you could ever meet. We all get together with a cast of like-minded folks for an annual lunch outing to our favorite Mexican restaurant during the convention. Good times, good food, and great stories abound.
Last year at Wonderfest I mentioned to Robert and Sara that I was just about to launch my Fantastic Films of Vincent Price video series. They both offered assistance in any way possible, including their extensive memorabilia collections!
Seems collecting runs in their families, as both Robert and Sara have incredible collections. I want to take a minute and shine the spotlight on these two Collectin' Cousins, as they are affectionately known.
Sara has a specialized collection of memorabilia dedicated primarily to one topic -Vincent Price. She has collected press books, posters, and photographs and more from every Price film, and even has a room dedicated to the master of Menace that includes two life-sized statues of price, sculpted by Ray Santoleri.
She has also taken the press books and inserted them into protective plastic sleeves, then lined the walls of her hallway floor to ceiling with them, along with the one-sheets- Talk about a true House on haunted Hill!
Sara credits her cousin Robert with her love of all things Price. She says:
"House of Wax was the one, when I became the biggest fan of Vincent Price. I saw this for the first time when I was in 7th or 8th grade at my school auditorium as a Christmas movie treat for the students. I had asked my cousin Robert many years later if he had something to do with of selecting a movie for Christmas treat, for he was the school librarian during that time. And it turns out that he did select that movie. LOL"
Robert is a huge collector himself, and owns a ton of Price memorabilia, as well as his own Price Room which also features these life-sized figures of Vincent.
Among the highlights of Robert's collection is a ton one-of-a-kind memorabilia purchased directly from the price estate. Here is just a sampling of some of the goodies he owns:
Collection of cards from Vincent's wallet, carried every day by him, as well as a couple of cards from his mother, Mary, and a pair of personalized luggage tags.
A portrait of Vincent, circa 1935 or so Taken in New Jersey--not a Hollywood photo.
top left, a family group photo, early 1920s; bottom left, from WHALES OF AUGUST, relics display--bits of wood from the house, rusty piece of the old buoy...
The original of the Frank Dietz Phibes artwork (I think it is going to be the cover art for his upcoming book), and the small stuff is a little candy box and 2 advertising cards--candy box from Price Sr's candy company; adverts from Grandfather Price's baking powder and flavoring extracts company (19th Century).
Price art poster (formerly belonged to Forry, given to Robert by Terry Pace); Price lifemask in old age (this is not the one USED, but is a copy of the lifemask taken for effects used in the movie DEAD HEAT); and also in this photo--one of Price's baby shoes from 1911 and a photo of baby Price and his mother, circa 1912. Those are from the Price estate, of course.
8x10 of Price in Hollywood when he went out to do SERVICE DE LUXE; two of Price's favorite little framed photos of his mom and dad (from his estate)
Three of the theatrical playbills for early Price work--top left, VICTORIA REGINA (1936), top right ANGEL STREET (1941), bottom MAMBA'S DAUGHTERS (late 1941)
Youth and old age! Price in the later years, around the time he was hosting MYSTERY! on Public Television--and a couple of the shots from his so-called "Tarzan" photoshoot in England in 1934. All from Price estate.
Just various personal letters to Vincent over the years--from Lillian Gish, Dennis Hopper, Joan Crawford, Helen Hayes, Ethel Waters, Arthur Byron (if Byron sounds familiar--you know him from Karloff's THE MUMMY--he is Sir Joseph Whemple in that, and ends up killed by Karloff! He did a lot of films in the '30s, but spent 50 years on the legitimate stage as well--which is where he met Price).
A couple of Vincent's personal contracts from '37, '38, when he signed with Orson Welles' Mercury Players--a playbill from that time--and a page of notes, written by Price, for his last great stage success, DIVERSIONS AND DELIGHTS.
Just for fun-- Robert has a lot of personal knick-knacks from Vincent's home(s)--here, to show the variety of the things Price owned--a little award from the City of St. Louis (St. Louis Arch); a carved wooden fox "box" (the head is the lid--lifts up on a hinge!--probably circa 1900); and an old Dutch Delft jar, broken and glued (Vincent loved gluing things back together, by the way!) which he found in a flea market and, as he said, "I saw what the jar said--St. Vincent!--and just couldn't possibly have NOT bought it!".
The Vincent Price baby book from 1911. The cover, discolored and soiled with age, used to be white and silver.
Closer shot of a Vincent Price baby shoe (the family lost the other one in 1912!) and his baby mittens. Robert says, "These were pressed in the baby book! By the way, the baby book turned up at auction in North Carolina several years ago.The previous owner of the book said his mother had bought it from the estate sale of Price's agent--but why the agent had it in his possession all those years ago remains an unknown. I suspect it may have been borrowed for Price's appearance on THIS IS YOUR LIFE, but that is just a guess."
This is a studio portrait of Vincent with big brother Mort--I think circa 1916 or so. This large photo was stuck in the baby book also. You can see Vincent's hair still had blonde in it, but it was darkening a little by this time.
And this is just the tip of the collecting iceberg!! Both of their collections are extensive, and true treasures to be proud of!
Again, I want to sincerely thank both of you, Robert and Sara, for sharing your collections. I truly appreciate your friendship, and look forward to seeing you both in June at this year's Wonderfest (and another Mexican feast)!