This photo of Vincent Price and Carol Lawrence at the 1971 grand opening of Woodfield is part of the library’s archive.  From the beginning, my question was, “Why Vincent Price?”  It wasn’t until I mentioned it to another librarian and he began digging on his own, that we found the answer.

Vincent Price was an actor whose deep, distinctive voice lent itself to the multiple horror films for which he was predominantly known.  His more famous movies include The House On Haunted Hill, The House of Usher and Tales of Terror.  

In his off camera life however, Mr. Price was an avid collector of art and, in fact, had an art history degree from Yale University.  He was well known in the art world and in 1962, when Sears Roebuck & Co. decided to bring affordable art to the public, they tapped him to lead the program.  According to the Sears archive website,  Mr. Price “was given complete authority to acquire any works he considered worthy of selection.”

Over the years Mr. Price not only purchased many pieces of fine art for Sears, he also purchased entire collections and “even commissioned artists, including Salvador Dali, to do works specifically for the program.”  In addition, the Sears Vincent Price Gallery of Fine Art opened in Chicago in 1966.  

When Woodfield opened on September 9, 1971, it was named for General “Wood”, chairman of the board of directors at Sears, and Marshall “Field” of the similarly named Chicago department store.  It stands to reason that Sears, one of the first two main anchors of the mall, would have had significant input in the opening day festivities.  As a result, they brought in Vincent Price to be master of ceremonies for the day.

It didn’t stop there though.  Sears took advantage of his presence in the area and used him to develop a series of home decorating courses that were also held in the Woodfield store.  Additionally, they tapped into his other great love which was cooking.  Consequently, on September 9, he gave informative talks hourly from 9:30 to 2:30 on the subjects of art, gourmet cooking and home decorating.

Vincent Price was truly a Renaissance man and certainly enhanced the Woodfield opening day celebrations.  It would be interesting to know if there was a similar backstory for the presence of Carol Lawrence!

Jane Rozek
Local History Librarian
Schaumburg Township District Library

A column from the September 10, 1971 Herald and an ad from the September 8, 1971 Herald assisted me in writing this blog posting.  

The photo of the imprint stamp originates from the blog.  We thank them for the use.  


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