Social Media Vincent Price Style January 09 2014, 1 Comment
Vincent Price often said that his favorite song was "People" sung by @Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl. He said it when he felt his wives became too possessive of his time; he said it when asked what he wanted sung at his funeral. But mostly he said it and then quoted the line from the song--"People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."
Vincent Price genuinely loved people. He was an extrovert, who enjoyed meeting and talking with almost anyone, anywhere, at any time. He maintained lifelong correspondences with family, friends, and fans--with a steady stream of postcards from the many places he visited. He enjoyed meeting people, not for the sake of self-aggrandizement but rather because he loved hearing their stories, and seeing the world through their eyes. He replied to his own fan mail and was not the kind of star who sat down in an airplane seat and tried to pretend his seatmate did not exist. In fact, some of his most interesting encounters happened on airplanes--like the first time he flew on a jet (after twenty-plus years on prop planes) and expressed his panic at not seeing the propellers to his seatmate, which prompted the gentleman to give Vincent and long and reassuring lecture on airplanes and aerodynamics, and why planes are built to stay UP in the air. When, at the end of the flight, Vincent did as he always did and introduced himself by saying, "My name's Vincent Price"--as if most people wouldn't have recognized his distinctive voice, face, or 6'4" frame--his seatmate replied, "Pleasure to meet you. My name's @Eddie Rickenbacker." To have been the recipient of a lecture on flying by the most famous American World War I flying ace was just one more proof for Vincent of why people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.
And so, it is fun to think about what Vincent would have thought about social media, and how he would have participated. Now, the first thing that needs to be said is that he was technologically challenged. He loathed reading instructions to anything, and as soon as he figured out--as we all do--that his daughter at age eight was more technologically adept than he, he quickly enlisted her to read all instructions, road maps, etc. He never owned a computer, and handwrote everything--eschewing even typewriters. So, getting him computer savvy would have been a challenge. And a smartphone--given the size of his 6'4" hands--would have given him fits. That said, once he did master something technical--his dear friend industrial designer @Henry Dreyfuss, who designed the #Polaroid camera (as well as the thermostat, telephone, and #John Deere tractor, to name a few of his many groundbreaking designs), gave him one of the early Polaroids--and Vincent was enamored with it and quickly become a devotee. So, IF he could have overcome his innate aversion to all things technical--I think Vincent would have been a fool for Facebook, a Twitter junkie, a #Pinterest pinner, an #Instagram photographer, and mostly an inveterate blogger.
Imagine a Vincent day on social media. As he boarded a flight from one city to the next on one of his lecture tours on which he spent 60 days traveling around the country speaking about the visual arts, instead of writing one of his countless essays on the back of the in-flight menu or magazine, he would have pulled out his laptop and written a blog post about what he had seen or done the day before--a visit to the #Albright-Knox in #Buffalo, perhaps, or a wonderful chat with a young sculptor about his passion for the visual arts. And had he lucked out on an interesting seatmate, he might have shot a photo of the two of them together to be posted later on his #Facebook feed. Upon landing in #Kansas City, he would have requested a trip to the #Nelson Atkins Museum, where he would have posted a few pictures on Instagram of one of the iconic @Claes Oldenburg Shuttlecocks in the Sculpture Garden, or waxed rhapsodic on #Twitter about their extraordinary Native American art collection. Any opportunity to promote an American museum would have been welcome! Back in his hotel, instead of sending postcards, Vincent would have taken to Facebook to message one on one with his fans, and post a few photos of the day of the art he had seen--and used the opportunity to exhort his readers to become more involved in the visual arts. "Checking in" on Facebook at dinner at one of Kansas City's famous steakhouses would have prompted commentary on the quality of the meal or the fun of discussing the best ways to chop garlic with the chef. And both he and fans would have posted photos of him chatting and signing autographs after the lecture. And oh how he would have loved Pinterest! Instead of collecting countless postcards at museum shops, Vincent would have posted his own photos and comments about his favorite drawings, paintings, and other works of art he was fortunate to see on his journeys around the world.
In short, as one of the most social of actors, Vincent Price would have been a monster on social media! Early on in his career, @Helen Hayes, the first lady of the American theatre, gave him a piece of advice he heeded until the end of his 60-plus year career. "An actor," she told the 24-year-old Vincent, "is a public servant. Without your audience, you are nothing." Vincent knew this to be true. He was grateful for everyone of his fans, cognizant that his ability to live what he saw as the extraordinary life of an actor was utterly dependent on the love and loyalty of his fans.
Living up to Vincent's legacy in this regard is a challenge. But I'm trying. I'm devoting the first half of this year to learning everything I can about social media and how to use it to promote and preserve Vincent Price's extraordinary legacy. So, please bear with me as get better at answering all of your emails and Facebook messages and Tweets, at posting on Facebook, and posting photos on what I hope will be my next project--a new @Vincent Price Pinterest page. I have so many ideas of how to reach out to Vincent Price fans, but finding the time and getting the know-how on top of having a job that consumes 60-plus hours of my time a week is my current challenge. But it's a blast "meeting" all of you and hearing your wonderful Vincent Price stories--so please be patient as I learn!
Vincent's second wife (of 23 years), designer @Mary Grant, was often confounded by her husband's social enthusiasms. She loved a party as much as anyone, but thought of a party as she did a Broadway show--as something requiring planning and forethought and preparation. For her gregarious husband, meeting an interesting person at the dentist's office was an opportunity to socialize, and might elicit a phone call telling her he was bringing someone home for dinner. Any resistance on her part could often evoke the line, "People who need people. . ." with a wink and a smile.
As the child of Mary and Vincent, I like to think I fall somewhere in between the two of them--social when I have signed up to be and an intensely private person when left to my own devices. Finding my own place of peace with my father's fame and its legacy is a lifelong challenge--but one that is a wonderful personal journey. The next year and a half will see four book project chronicling this journey: A reprint with an updated introduction of my 1999 biography of my father--#Vincent Price: A Daughter's Biography; a 50th anniversary edition of my parents famous cookbook--#A Treasury of Great Recipes; a commemorative book of photos and essays about Vincent Price, including essays by @Richard Matheson, @Bill Hader, and my brother, @VB Price; and most personal to me, a memoir about growing up as I did called Taking My Mother to China. I'm also figuring out how to get out more and meet fans at various events--and so far have quite a few scheduled for the first half of 2014. So, check out our News and Events page as well as our Facebook feed. And, what is most fun, we are designing some great new Vincent Price products. One of my current favorites is our Vincent Price phone case! So, check them out on our products page and in our Facebook shop! (Can't you just imagine Vincent Price standing in front of a painting he loved in a museum with his iPhone in a Vincent Price phone case Instagramming his thoughts about why art matters?)
So, thank you for joining us on this journey. We're excited to be on it with you. Stay tuned for more and send us your comments and suggestions for what you want to see from vincentprice.com!