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John Payne

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posted by Truus, Bob & Jan too! alias Truus, Bob & Jan too! on Wednesday 16th of December 2020 10:07:48 AM

British Real Photograph postcard. Photo: Republic. Caption: Greetings from... John Payne, star of Republic Pictures. American film actor John Payne (1912-1989) is mainly remembered for Film Noirs and 20th Century Fox musicals films. He also starred in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and the Western TV series The Restless Gun (1957-1959). John Howard Payne was born in Roanoke, Virginia. His parents were Ida Hope (née Schaeffer), a singer, and 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 1942, while visiting his family in Roanoke, Virginia, he agreed to take a small role in a community theatre production of 'The Man Who Came to Dinner', at the Academy of Music on Salem Avenue. 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'. Payne toured with several Shubert Brothers shows, and frequently sang on New York City-based radio programs. On Broadway, he appeared in the revue 'At Home Abroad' (1935–1936) 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. 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-film. Payne was third billed in Fair Warning (1937), a B-film 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, where 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 Ann Sheridan in Indianapolis Speedway (1939) and starred in a short The Royal Rodeo (1939) and in 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 (1938–1939). Payne was unhappy with his Warner Bros roles and asked for a release. John 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 again in The Great American Broadcast (1940) and Week-End in Havana (1941) and Sonja Henie in Sun Valley Serenade (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 got his Honorable discharge in September 1944. 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 brought 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." After leaving Fox, John Payne attempted to change his image and began playing tough-guy roles in Film Noirs. He did two Film 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. 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 to 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." For Edward Small, he starred in Kansas City Confidential (1952), a Film Noir; Payne owned 25% of the film. He later worked with Small on the pirate movie Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953), and the Film Noir 99 River Street (1953). 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. 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,[20] but it was not made. Payne also starred as Vint Bonner, an educated, commonsense gunfighter, in The Restless Gun which aired on NBC 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. In March 1961, John 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. 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 on TV in the Columbo episode Forgotten Lady (1975), co-starring with Peter Falk and Janet Leigh. 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 (1945) and Thomas John Payne, before ending in divorce in 1950. During the filming of Kansas City Confidential (1952) he had a romance with recently divorced co-star Coleen Gray that continued well past filming. 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. John Payne died in Malibu, California, of congestive heart failure in 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. Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb. And, please check out our blog European Film Star Postcards.

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