John Payne (actor)
Payne in Kansas City Confidential (1952)
|Born||John Howard Payne
May 23, 1912
Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.
|Died||December 6, 1989
Malibu, California, U.S.
(m. 1937; div. 1943)
(m. 1944; div. 1950)
Alexandra Crowell Curtis
|Children||3, including Julie Payne|
John Howard Payne (May 23, 1912 – December 6, 1989) was an American film actor who is mainly remembered from film noir crime stories and 20th Century Fox musical films, and for his leading roles in Miracle on 34th Street and the NBC Western television series The Restless Gun.
Payne was born in Roanoke, Virginia. His mother, Ida Hope (née Schaeffer), a singer, graduated from the Virginia Seminary in Roanoke and married George Washington Payne, a developer in Roanoke. They lived at "Fort Lewis", an antebellum mansion that became a state historic property but was destroyed by fire in the late 1940s. Payne attended prep school at Mercersburg Academy in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and then went to Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. He then transferred to Columbia University in New York City in the fall of 1930. He studied drama at Columbia and voice at the Juilliard School. To support himself, he took on a variety of odd jobs, including wrestling as "Alexei Petroff, the Savage of the Steppes" and boxing as "Tiger Jack Payne". In 1934, a talent scout for the Shubert theaters spotted Payne and gave him a job as a stock player.
Payne toured with several Shubert Brothers shows, and frequently sang on New York-based radio programs. In 1936, he landed a contract at Samuel Goldwyn's studio and he left New York for Hollywood. His first role in Dodsworth (1936) presented him as an affable, handsome character actor. Following this he was the leading man in the light musical Garden of the Moon, which showcased his smooth, harmonious tenor voice. He worked for various studios until 1940, when he signed with 20th Century Fox; Fox made him a star in musicals such as Tin Pan Alley (1940), Sun Valley Serenade (1941), Springtime in the Rockies (1942) and Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943). In these films, he was typically cast as a supporting player in love with the likes of Alice Faye, Betty Grable and Sonja Henie. A highlight during this period was co-starring with Gene Tierney and Tyrone Power in The Razor's Edge (1946).
In To the Shores of Tripoli (1942), as the playboy son of a United States Marine Corps World War I veteran, he crosses his Marine Drill Sergeant Randolph Scott. Payne's romantic interest in the film is a Navy nurse lieutenant, Maureen O'Hara. This was one of the top films of 1942.
Payne's most familiar role may be his final film for Fox, that of attorney Fred Gailey in the classic holiday favorite Miracle on 34th Street (1947) with Natalie Wood, Maureen O'Hara and Edmund Gwenn.
Later in his career Payne changed his image and began playing tough-guy roles in Hollywood films noirs and Westerns including Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953), Silver Lode (1954), Tennessee's Partner (1955) and Slightly Scarlet (1956). Payne was a contract star with Pine-Thomas Productions where he shrewdly insisted that the films he appeared in be filmed in color and that the rights to the films revert to him after several years, making him wealthy when he rented them to television. In 1955, he paid a $1,000-a-month option for nine months on the Ian Fleming James Bond novel Moonraker (he eventually gave up the option when he learned he could not retain the rights for the entire book series).
Payne also starred as Vint Bonner, an educated, commonsense gunfighter, in The Restless Gun, which aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC television network), on Monday evenings from 1957 to 1959, prior to Dale Robertson's western series Tales of Wells Fargo. Dan Blocker, James Coburn, and Don Grady made their first substantive acting forays with Payne on The Restless Gun. On October 31, 1957, as The Restless Gun began airing, Payne guest-starred on The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.
In March 1961, Payne suffered extensive, life-threatening injuries when struck by a car in New York City. His recovery took two years. In his later roles, facial scars from the accident can be detected in close-ups; he chose not to have them removed. One of Payne's first public appearances during this period was as a guest panelist on the popular CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) Sunday night game show What's My Line?. In the December 3, 1961 episode, regular panelist Dorothy Kilgallen introduced Payne by saying "He's been in the hospital after a very bad accident. So it's good to see him fit as a fiddle and all in one piece." And regular panelist Bennett Cerf remarked "Good to see you here John. Glad to see you beat that car on Madison Avenue that bumped into you."
Payne directed one of his last films, They Ran for Their Lives (1968), and again teamed up with Alice Faye in a 1974 revival of the musical Good News. He also starred in the Gunsmoke episode of "Gentry's Law in 1970. His final role was in 1975, when he co-starred with Peter Falk and Janet Leigh in the Columbo episode "Forgotten Lady". Later in life Payne, like former Daniel Boone-Davy Crockett series star Fess Parker, became wealthy through real estate investments in southern California.
Payne was married to actress Anne Shirley from 1937 to 1942; they had a daughter, Julie Anne Payne. After their divorce, Payne then married actress Gloria DeHaven in 1944; the union produced two children, Kathleen Hope Payne (b. 1945) and Thomas John Payne, before ending in a divorce in 1950. Payne then married Alexandra Beryl "Sandy" Crowell Curtis in 1953, and remained with her until his death.
He was the father-in-law of writer-director Robert Towne, who was married to his oldest daughter Julie until their divorce in 1982.
He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in motion pictures and television.
|1937||Fair Warning||Jim Preston|
|1937||Hats Off||Jimmy Maxwell|
|1937||Love on Toast||Bill Adams|
|1938||College Swing||Martin Bates|
|1938||Garden of the Moon||Don Vincente|
|1939||Kid Nightingale||Steve Nelson a.k.a. Kid Nightingale|
|1939||Wings of the Navy||Jerry Harrington|
|1939||Indianapolis Speedway||Eddie Greer|
|1939||The Royal Rodeo||Bill Stevens|
|1940||Star Dust||Ambrose Fillmore a.k.a. Bud Borden|
|1940||King of the Lumberjacks||James 'Jim'/'Slim' Abbott|
|1940||The Great Profile||Richard Lansing|
|1940||Tear Gas Squad||Sergeant Bill Morrissey|
|1940||Tin Pan Alley||Francis Aloysius 'Skeets' Harrigan|
|1941||The Great American Broadcast||Rix Martin|
|1941||Sun Valley Serenade||Ted Scott|
|1941||Week-End in Havana||Jay Williams|
|1941||Remember the Day||Dan Hopkins|
|1942||To the Shores of Tripoli||Chris Winters|
|1942||Footlight Serenade||William J. 'Bill' Smith|
|1942||Springtime in the Rockies||Dan Christy|
|1942||Iceland||Capt. James Murfin|
|1943||Hello, Frisco, Hello||Johnny Cornell|
|1945||The Dolly Sisters||Harry Fox|
|1946||Wake Up and Dream||Jeff Cairn|
|1946||Sentimental Journey||William O. Weatherly|
|1946||The Razor's Edge||Gray Maturin|
|1947||Miracle on 34th Street||Fred Gailey|
|1948||The Saxon Charm||Eric Busch|
|1949||The Crooked Way||Eddie Rice a.k.a. Eddie Riccardi|
|1949||Captain China||Charles S. Chinnough/Capt. China|
|1949||El Paso||Clay Fletcher|
|1950||Tripoli||Lt. Presley O'Bannon|
|1950||The Eagle and the Hawk||Capt. Todd Croyden|
|1951||Passage West||Pete Black|
|1952||Kansas City Confidential||Joe Rolfe/Peter Harris|
|1952||Caribbean||Dick Lindsay/Robert MacAllister|
|1952||The Blazing Forest||Kelly Hansen|
|1953||The Vanquished||Rockwell (Rock) Grayson|
|1953||Raiders of the Seven Seas||Barbarossa|
|1953||99 River Street||Ernie Driscoll|
|1954||Silver Lode||Dan Ballard|
|1954||Rails Into Laramie||Jefferson Harder|
|1955||Santa Fe Passage||Kirby Randolph|
|1955||The Road to Denver||Bill Mayhew|
|1955||Hell's Island||Mike Cormack|
|1956||Slightly Scarlet||Ben Grace|
|1956||Hold Back the Night||Capt. Sam McKenzie|
|1956||The Boss||Matt Brady|
|1956||Rebel in Town||John Willoughby|
|1957||Hidden Fear||Mike Brent|
|1957||Bailout at 43,000||Maj. Paul Peterson|
|1968||They Ran for Their Lives||Bob Martin|
|1975||Columbo: Forgotten Lady (TV)||Ned Diamond|
|1940||Lux Radio Theatre||Wings of the Navy|
|1952||Family Theater||The Promise|
- California Death Records – California Department of Health Services Office of Health Information and Research.
- Flint, Peter B. (December 8, 1989), "John Payne, 77, Actor, Is Dead; Lawyer in 'Miracle on 34th Street'", The New York Times
- NOTE: The California Death Records show his date of birth as May 28, but most published biographies show May 23, as does his obituary in The New York Times.
- Victoria Wilson (2015), A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True 1907-1940, Simon and Schuster, p. 637, ISBN 9781439194065
- Blank, Ed (January 26, 2006), "'360 Degrees of Oscar'", Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Trib Total Media, Inc.
- JOHN PAYNE--the Star Who Likes People: When He Isn't Making a Picture He's Out Meeting the Public and Winning Friends for Hollywood and for Himself Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923–1963) [Chicago, Ill] 14 Sep 1952: c2.
- "John Payne Hit By Car", The New York Times, The New York Times Company, March 2, 1961, (Subscription required ())
- "Anne Shirley Wins Divorce", Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company, February 20, 1942, (Subscription required ())
- "Gloria De Haven, John Payne To Wed", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, December 18, 1944
- "John Payne Weds Gloria De Haven", Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company, December 29, 1944, (Subscription required ())
- "Gloria De Haven Wins Uncontested Divorce", Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company, February 10, 1950, (Subscription required ())
- "Actor John Payne Weds Ex-Wife of Alan Curtis", Los Angeles Times, Tribune Company, September 28, 1953, (Subscription required ())
- "Framework". Los Angeles Times.
- "Those Were the Days". Nostalgia Digest. 42 (2): 38. Spring 2016.
- Kirby, Walter (March 2, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 28, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
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