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John Payne (actor)

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Occupation  Actor, singer
Height  1.82 m
Role  Film actor
Name  John Payne
Years active  1934–1975

John Payne (actor) John Payne Biography IMDb
Full Name  John Howard Payne
Born  May 23, 1912 (1912-05-23) Roanoke, Virginia, U.S.
Died  December 6, 1989, Malibu, California, United States
Spouse  Alexandra Crowell Curtis (m. 1953–1989), Gloria DeHaven (m. 1944–1950), Anne Shirley (m. 1937–1943)
Children  Julie Payne, Kathleen Hope Payne, Thomas John Payne
Movies  Miracle on 34th Street, Kansas City Confidential, Sun Valley Serenade, Silver Lode, Tennessee's Partner
Similar People  Edmund Gwenn, Gloria DeHaven, Sonja Henie, Anne Shirley, Maureen O'Hara

John payne actor

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.


John Payne (actor) John Payne Simple English Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Movie legends john payne

Early Life

John Payne (actor) John Payne actor Img Need

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.

John Payne (actor) John Payne actor ImgMob

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".

Stage Actor

John Payne (actor) John Payne popular actor whose career spanned four decades

In 1934, a talent scout for the Shubert theaters spotted Payne and gave him a job as a stock player. He appeared in road company productions of Rose Marie and The Student Prince at $40 a week.

John Payne (actor) John Payne Hollywood actor c 1940 a photo on Flickriver

Payne toured with several Shubert Brothers shows, and frequently sang on New York-based radio programs. On Broadway he appeared in the revue At Home Abroad (1935-36) alongside Eleanor Powell and Beatrice Lillie. He understudied for Reginald Gardiner and took over one night. He was seen by Fred Kohlmar of Sam Goldwyn's company and was offered a movie contract.

Early Films

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In 1936 he left New York for Hollywood. He tested for a role in Goldwyn's Come and Get It but lost out to Frank Shields. His first role in Goldwyn's Dodsworth (1936) presented him as an affable, handsome character actor.

He had the male lead in Hats Off (1936), an independent B. Goldwyn announced plans to co star him with Miriam Hopkins in The Woman's Touch but the film appears to have not been made. In September 1936 it was announced Goldwyn would not sell half Payne's contract to Columbia and he might be the lead in Women Can Be Wrong.

Payne was third billed in Fair Warning (1937), a "B" at Fox. He was the lead in a low budget film Love on Toast (1937).

Payne was down the cast list for Paramount's College Swing (1938). He then signed a contract with Warner Bros.

Warner Bros

At Warners he had a notable break replacing Dick Powell, who turned down the role, in Garden of the Moon (1938). Warners used Payne as a sort of "back up Dick Powell". He was in Kid Nightingale (1939) and Wings of the Navy (1939). Payne supported Anne Sheridan in Indianapolis Speedway (1939) and starred in a short The Royal Rodeo (1939) and in the Bs King of the Lumberjacks (1940) and Tear Gas Squad (1940).

During this time he returned to Broadway to appear in Abe Lincoln in Illinois (1938-39). Payne was unhappy with his Warner Bros.roles and asked for a release.

20th Century Fox

Payne went over to 20th Century Fox where he appeared in Star Dust (1940). During filming Darryl F. Zanuck offered him a long term contract.

He supported Walter Brennan in Maryland (1940) and John Barrymore in The Great Profile (1940).

Payne was the male lead in the enormously popular Tin Pan Alley (1940) with Alice Faye and Betty Grable. He romanced Faye in The Great American Broadcast (1940), Sonja Henie in Sun Valley Serenade (1941), and Faye in Week-End in Havana (1941).

Fox gave him the chance to do drama in Remember the Day (1941), romancing Claudette Colbert. He was meant to be in Song of the Islands with Grable but when George Raft couldn't get released from Warners Bros to play a marine in the hugely popular To the Shores of Tripoli (1942), Payne stepped in. The film, co starring Maureen O'Hara and Randolph Scott, was hugely popular.

So too was Footlight Serenade (1942) with Grable and Victor Mature, Springtime in the Rockies (1942) with Grable, Iceland (1943) with Henie and especially Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943) with Faye.

During World War II Payne served as a flight instructor in the United States Army Air Corps.

He returned to work at Fox, who put him in The Dolly Sisters (1945) with Grable and June Haver, playing Harry Fox. It was one of Payne's most successful films. Less popular was Wake Up and Dream (1946) with Haver.

Payne was teamed with Maureen O'Hara in Sentimental Journey (1946), a big hit. He was third billed in The Razor's Edge (1946) underneath Tyrone Power and Gene Tierney, Fox's most prestigious film of 1946.

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. It was another box office success. He was meant to make another with O'Hara, Sitting Pretty (1948) . However in October 1947 he got his release from the studio, despite the contract having another four years to run, which would have bought him $670,000. Payne claimed he was dissatisfied with the roles being offered him.

Payne later said he had asked for his release every week for eight months before he got it. Film historian Jeanine Basinger later wrote that "Fox thought of him [Payne] as a secondary Tyrone Power. They didn't know how to use him."

Freelance Actor

After leaving Fox, Payne attempted to change his image and began playing tough-guy roles in Hollywood films noirs.

He did two noirs at Universal, Larceny (1948), where he played the lead role, and The Saxon Charm (1948) with Robert Montgomery and Susan Hayward. He had the lead in The Crooked Way (1949) for United Artists.

Pine-Thomas Productions

Payne received an offer to star in a Western for Pine-Thomas Productions, a unit that operated out of Paramount Studios. El Paso (1949) was a box office success and Payne went on to make other films for the company including Captain China (1950), an adventure film; Tripoli (1950) set during the Barbary War; and The Eagle and the Hawk (1950), a Western.

He signed a contract to make three more films for Pine Thomas He did Passage West (1951), another Western; and Crosswinds (1951), an adventure film; Caribbean Gold (1952), a pirate film; The Blazing Forest (1952), an adventure story; The Vanquished (1952), a Western.

Payne 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 1952 he said he got four times the fan mail he did at Fox. "I make fewer pictures now but I make the kind I want to make."

Other Independent Producers

For Edward Small he starred in Kansas City Confidential (1952), a noir; Payne owned 25% of the film. He later worked with Small on Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953), a pirate movie; and 99 River Street (1953) a noir.

Payne did a series of Westerns: Silver Lode (1954), for Benedict Bogeaus; Rails Into Laramie (1955), for Universal; Santa Fe Passage (1955) and The Road to Denver (1955) at Republic; and Tennessee's Partner (1955) for Bogeaus.

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).

He returned to Pine Thomas for a noir, Hell's Island (1956), then did Slightly Scarlet (1956) for Bogeaus. He made Hold Back the Night (1956) for Allied Artists and The Boss (1956) for United Artists, co producing the latter.

He did Rebel in Town (1956) and Hidden Fear (1957) for United Artists. He made one more Pine Thomas, Bailout at 43,000 (1957). In 1957 he optioned the rights for For the Life of Me, the memoir of a newspaper editor but it was not made.


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."

Later Career

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.

Personal life

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.

His name was romantically linked to Eleanor Powell in 1936.

Payne was a Republican and in October 1960 he was one of many conservative notables who drove in the Nixon-Lodge Bumper Sticker Motorcade in Los Angeles.


Payne died in Malibu, California, of congestive heart failure on December 6, 1989, aged 77. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.

He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in motion pictures and television.


John Payne (actor) Wikipedia