On This Day in 1993: Exit of Vincent Price Delayed by Diary Entry

Like Gwendolen Fairfax, I am wont to consult my diary. After all, “one should always have something sensational to read.” I will no doubt hear this line again very soon, when the Ridiculusmus production of The Importance of Being Earnest comes to town on 7 November. But I digress. Aside from being compelled by a desire to revel in the “sensational,” I stuck my nose into one of my old journals today to find out whether I had taken any notice of the passing of Vincent Price back on 25 October 1993. Though not particularly impressed by his acting in 1950s or ’60s horror films, I have always had an eager ear for the tone of his sophisticated, suave, and slightly sardonic voice.

Now, according to the notoriously selective and inaccurate accounts of the world’s goings-on and departures I scribbled into a series of black volumes over a decade prior to this my first public and somewhat more thoroughly fact-checked journal, Price gave up the ghost on 26 October 1993. My delayed response (or flawed chronicling) led me to remark upon the “uncannily” timed television broadcast of a Price biography on that day, a documentary that was part of the regular schedule, rather than one of those hastily squeezed in tributes. It was as if the obituary had been anticipated by some clairvoyant programming executive in the broadcasting house on haunted hill. Accuracy can be so soberingly unromantic.

Not so an exposure to Mr. Price’s voice. To this day, the mannered speech of the man who laughed to the beat of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” rings in my ears whenever I am in the mood for another adventure of The Saint; and, as this item in the broadcastellan archive attests, I am not infrequently drawn that way. The father of the Saint, Leslie Charteris, may have thought little of Price’s interpretation of Simon Templar (alias the “Robin Hood of modern crime”) and, aside from collecting royalties, had no involvement in the radio series when Price took over the role. It is still Price (rather than, say, Roger Moore) whom I identify most with the part.

These days, UK television viewers may take a gander at George Sanders in the Saint movies of the late 1930s (The Saint Strikes Back, for instance, was shown only last Sunday); but I keep missing them. No matter. In case you have checked out (or, thank you very much, participated in) the first broadcastellan poll and wondered who would rather give up the ocular than the olfactory sense—one of those benighted creatures was yours truly.

So, now that I have the calendric confusions cleared up and my senses prioritized, I shall recall Price to life tonight by listening to another one of his many radio performances. Say, which voice has been haunting you lately?

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