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Henry Jarrod.jpg

Professor Henry Jarrod, played by Vincent Price, is the antagonist in the 1953 film House of Wax.

Professor Henry Jarrod is a talented wax figure sculptor who runs a wax museum in early 1900s New York City. He specializes in historical figures such as John Wilkes Booth, Joan of Arc, and Marie Antoinette, which Jarrod feels is his best work. His business partner, Matthew Burke, wants out of their partnership, especially since Jarrod refuses to add more sensational exhibits to increase profits. Jarrod gives a private tour to renowned art critic Sidney Wallace, who agrees to buy Burke out in about three months after financing some excavations in Egypt. Impatient, Burke sets the museum on fire to obtain the insurance money. Jarrod attempts to stop Burke and save his life's work, only to be doused in kerosene and left to die in the fire. Some time after acquiring the insurance money, Burke is murdered by a disfigured man in a cloak, who stages the murder as an act of suicide.

Wallace meets a wheelchair-bound Jarrod at that time, the sculptor having survived with his hands too damaged to sculpt. Jarrod explains his intention of building a new wax museum with his assistants, the deaf-mute Igor and Leon Averill, conceding to popular taste by including a chamber of horrors showcasing both historical acts of violence such as Anne Boleyn's beheading and Anne Askew's torture and recent events that include William Kemmler's electrocution and Burke's apparent suicide.

Sue attends the opening of the wax museum and is troubled by the strong resemblance of the figure of Joan of Arc to Cathy. Jarrod claims that he used photographs of Cathy to make the sculpture. But Sue remains unconvinced, while Jarrod hires Scott as an assistant and develops an interest in Sue over her resemblance to his long-lost Marie Antoinette sculpture. The police agree to investigate the museum while recognizing Averill from his criminal background. Sue arrives after hours to meet with Scott, whom Jarrod sent on an errand, and uncovers the horrifying truth that many of the figures are wax-coated corpses stolen from the morgue, including Burke and Cathy. Sue is confronted by Jarrod, revealed to have pretended to be bound to his wheelchair while wearing a wax mask to conceal his disfigured face and identity as the murderer. He subdues Sue with Igor's help and prepares to use her living body to recreate his Marie Antoinette sculpture. The police, having learned the whole truth from Averill, arrive at the museum and arrest Igor, who attempts to kill Scott before they storm into Jarrod's workshop. They free Sue in time as Jarrod is killed after being knocked into the workshop's vat of wax.