Advertisement

Mary Grant Price, 85; Designed Costumes for Film and Stage

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mary Grant Price, costume designer who worked on such Broadway shows as “Oklahoma!” and motion pictures including “Sweet Smell of Success” and “Separate Tables,” then built a second career rehabilitating mansions, has died. She was 85.

Price, who was married for 24 years to the late actor Vincent Price, died Saturday in Boston after a brief illness, said their daughter, Victoria Price.

The second of the three wives of the actor, who died in 1993, Mary Grant met Vincent Price when she designed the costumes he and Deanna Durbin wore in the 1948 film “Up in Central Park.”

Until their divorce in 1974, she shared his interests in art and worked with him to market fine art to a mass market through Sears, Roebuck & Co. A collector of antiques, she also started a line of high-quality reproductions of antiques, National Treasures, and marketed them through Sears.

Advertisement

During that period, Mary Grant Price began buying, rehabilitating and selling houses in Los Angeles. After the divorce, she developed a new career and her own company, Mansions International, to buy and redesign or build homes here and in Boston, Santa Fe, N.M., and Honolulu.

Her homes, including the one she had shared with Price, were often featured in architectural and design magazines and were spotlighted once on Edward R. Murrow’s “Person to Person” TV show.

The daughter of a sea captain, Mary Grant was born on the coast of Wales and reared in Shanghai, and Victoria, British Columbia. At age 18, she came to the United States to study dance at the University of Washington in Seattle.

But she soon switched to design and moved to New York, where she apprenticed with clothing designers. When she saw a Broadway play to celebrate her 21st birthday, she wrote a fan letter to the costumer, Raoul Pene du Bois.

Advertisement

He hired her. The young Mary Grant worked with him and Miles White on costumes for such landmark musicals as “Oklahoma!” and “DuBarry Was a Lady” and then landed her own commission to dress the cast of Cole Porter’s “Mexican Hayride.” She also designed costumes for such musicals as “Seven Lively Arts” and “Polonaise,” and Billy Rose revues.

The soon-to-be Mary Grant Price also began working in movies, beginning with “Wonder Man” in 1945, starring Danny Kaye.

Among other motion pictures for which she designed costumes through the 1950s were the 1955 version of “We’re No Angels,” starring Humphrey Bogart, “The Vagabond King,” narrated by her husband, and three Burt Lancaster films, “Sweet Smell of Success,” “Separate Tables” and “The Devil’s Disciple.”

In addition to her daughter, who lives in Santa Fe, Price is survived by a stepson, Vincent Barrett Price of Albuquerque, and a sister, Clay Grant Davidson, of Victoria.

Advertisement

No services are planned. Memorial donations may be made to the Delta Society, 289 Perimeter Road East, Renton, WA 98055.


Advertisement
Advertisement