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Vincent Twice! Real Price replaces wax Price

Vincent Twice! Real Price replaces wax Price

Actor Vincent Price portrays the wax version of himself, left, at Movieland Wax Museum.  He then reveals himself to an audience viewing a scene re-created from the classic horror movie “The House of Wax.”

These Ray Graham photos appeared in the May 28, 1963, Los Angeles Times. In an accompanying article, staff writer Art Seidenbaum reported:

Gold was the color of the Rolls Royce. But underneath was a thick coat of nostalgia; it was the kind of hoopla they don’t have anymore. Vincent Price–patron of the arts, merchant of the macabre–was off to stand in for his own waxen image. …

The gold Rolls pulled up to its regular berth at the Movieland Wax Museum in Buena Park, the motion picture Madame Tussaud’s where more than 80 Hollywood greats have slid south to be permanently immodelized in Orange County.

On 7 1/2 acres next to Knott’s Berry Farm, the $1.5 million museum opened just one year ago. The “Shrine to the Stars” is the dream of millionaire Allen Parkinson who presumably got the idea while enjoying the benefits of his own product, Sleep-Eze.

On a typical day, as many as 5,000 people walk through the spaces where more than 50 movie sets have been re-created and peopled with wax players.

Price was going to reverse the gag, breathing life into the wax ghoul made to represent him.

One of the most popular museum exhibits is a scene from, appropriately enough, “The House of Wax,” a 10-year old exercise in horror shot in 3-D and viewed through the passing fancy paper glasses. In the scene, Demon Price is about to dump poor Phyllis Kirk into a caldron of bubbling wax, which is the way he kills his victims at the same time he preserves them (burying the co-star at both ends). But before our arrival, the facsimile fiend had been removed and the set temporarily closed.

The real Vincent Price changed clothes in the museum office, swapping a checkered sport jacket for the blood-spattered smock of the wax dummy (a perfect fit). Then he mounted a dolly and was wheeled to the set standing as stiff and unblinking as a statue. Wooden actors may be a dime a dozen–waxen actors are a rarity.

The curtain was opened. Two museum hands hauled the figure into place. A young woman came onstage and combed Price’s hair.

Visitors’ hair stood on end. As they watched the stage settings, ladies murmured how real the likeness. A crowd began to form. A public relations man moved among them, saying that the museum had made refinements to its arcane art, that this new dummy was the first of a more animated series.

Jerkily, eerily, the Price figure moved. His head turned. His hand shoved a grotesque hypodermic toward the crowd. He triggered the needle. A man gasped. A woman screamed.

Price laughed, shouted, “Bravo, how are you?”

Another woman muttered. “I knew it all the time. I could tell it was really him.”

Another man was still not certain: even after the mad model spoke, he was not sure that Price was flesh instead of more foolery. But then the fiend left the stage and signed autographs. Everyone was finally reassured–only real stars would do it: no dummy would stand around just signing his name. …

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