biographyBorn into a wealthy family in Roanoke, Virginia, on May 28, 1912, John Payne's mother encouraged her son in his singing lessons. With the Wall Street crash in 1929, the family's fortune evaporated, and Payne's father died just a few months later. He enrolled at Columbia University in the fall of 1930; to support himself, he took on a variety of odd jobs, including wrestling and singing in vaudeville. In 1934, he was spotted by a talent scout for the Schubert Theater and was given a a job as a stock player. He toured with several Schubert shows, and frequently picked up singing gigs on New York-based radio programs. In 1936, Payne was offered a contract by Samuel Goldwyn, and he immediately left New York for Hollywood. He made a couple of pictures while under contract to Goldwyn, but was quickly released from his contract. Payne's early career consisted of mostly supporting roles in such films as College Swing (1938). His early starring roles were in B films, which include the musical Hats Off (1937; with Mae Clarke) and Fair Warning (1937; with Betty Furness). After a few more low-budget programmers, Payne began to be noticed by audiences. One of his finest early film performances was in the comedy Kid Nightingale with Jane Wyman. This role helped him win a contract with 20th Century-Fox in 1940, where he achieved stardom in a number of early 1940s musical extravaganzas, such as Sun Valley Serenade and Weekend in Havana.
Mari Blanchard). He also made several film noir thrillers, including Kansas City Confidential (1952; with Coleen Gray), 99 River Street (1953; with Peggie Castle), and Slightly Scarlet (1956; with Rhonda Fleming and Arlene Dahl).
As for his personal life, Payne married actress Anne Shirley in 1937; the couple had a daughter, actress Julie Payne, before divorcing in 1943. The next year, he married actress Gloria DeHaven. This couple had a daughter and a son, but the union ended in 1950. In September 1953, Payne married socialite Sandy Crowell Curtis, whose first husband was actor Alan Curtis, and this marriage lasted until his death.
the films of john payne
Fair Warning (1937)
Kid Nightingale (1939)
Studio shots from the 1939 comedy Kid Nightingale. Payne portrays a singing waiter who is duped into a boxing career by a shady manager. The right photo includes Jane Wyman
Springtime in the Rockies (1942)
The Saxon Charm (1948)
Captain China (1949)
Payne mixes it up with Lon Chaney Jr. in the Paramount adventure film Captain China
The Blazing Forest (1952)
From the Paramount Technicolor actioner The Blazing Forest with Susan Morrow, Richard Arlen, Agnes Moorehead, and William Demarest
From the Paramount pirate adventure Caribbean with Arlene Dahl
The Vanquished (1953)
Rails into Laramie (1954)
With B-movie queen Mari Blanchard in Rails into Laramie
LEFT and CENTER: With Lizabeth Scott in the RKO western Silver Lode. RIGHT: With Alan Hale Jr., Dan Duryea, Harry Carey Jr., and Stuart Whitman
From the 1955 western Tennesee's Partner with Rhonda Fleming and Ronald Reagan
Bailout at 43,000 (1957)
later yearsIn 1956, John Payne formed his own production company, Window Productions, which was responsible for the release of The Boss (1956). Window Productions also produced Payne's 1957 through 1959 western TV series The Restless Gun, which aired on NBC. After the series folded, Payne took guest roles on several popular television series. In early 1961, Payne was seriously injured when a car struck him on a busy Manhattan street. He nearly died as a result of the accident, suffering numerous leg fractures and head injuries that temporarily blinded him, and it took him a year to recuperate. After extensive plastic surgery, Payne worked relatively little afterward, making only two films, a few TV appearances, and acting in off-Broadway plays in the 1960s and early 1970s. By the mid 1970s, after an appearance on the NBC series Columbo, he decided to retire. Sadly, John Payne passed away on December 6, 1989, of a heart ailment at the age of 77. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, a son, and two grandchildren, one of whom is actress Katharine Towne (b. 1978).
john payne films available from movies unlimited
The Restless Gun: The Complete Series [DVD] DVD
This 1957-59 NBC series featured John Payne as Vint Bonner, a retired but restless gunfighter who drifted from town to town in the post-Civil War Southwest seeking adventure and solving problems. Bonner's gun-toting skills belied his easy-going nature, and while he would seek peaceful resolutions to quarrels, he wouldn't back down from a fight. Guest stars included Dan Blocker, James Coburn, Claude Akins. Standard; Soundtrack: English. 78 episodes on 8 discs. 32 1/2 hrs.
Zane Grey Theatre: Complete Season One [DVD](1956) DVD
All 29 episodes from the debut season--including "You Only Run Once," "Stage to Tucson," "Courage Is a Gun," "Back Trail," and "Badge of Honor"--have been collected in a four-disc set. 14 1/2 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; interviews; TV spots. **29 episodes on 4 discs.**
Columbo: The Complete Fifth Season [DVD](1975) DVD
All six episodes from season five--"Forgotten Lady" with guest star John Payne, "A Case of Immunity," "Identity Crisis," "A Matter of Honor," "Now You See Him...," and "Last Salute to the Commodore"--are featured in a three-disc set. Standard; Soundtrack: English; bonus "Mrs. Columbo" episode.
Hats Off (1936)/Rich Relations [DVD](1937) DVD
The breezy musical comedy "Hats Off" stars John Payne and Mae Clarke as press agents from two rival Texas towns. As they each try to one-up each other professionally, they unexpectedly fall in love. With Helen Lynd, Luis Alberni; songs include "Let's Have Another," "Hats Off." Then, in "Rich Relations," a secretary flaunts her relationship with a egotistical ladies man--unaware that her employer is in love with her. Can she make sense of her tumultuous love life? Ralph Forbes, Frances Grant, Barry Norton star. 131 min. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English. Plays All Regions.
The Big Broadcast Of 1938 (1937)/College Swing (1938) [DVD] DVD
All-star comedy/musical finds ocean liner owner W.C. Fields pitting his ship against another vessel in a high-speed race. While on the journey, a host of Paramount stars are spotlighted, including Martha Raye, Dorothy Lamour, Kirsten Flagstad, and Bob Hope (his first feature), who sings his signature tune, the Oscar-winning "Thanks for the Memory." Then, Gracie Allen inherits a small-town school and proceeds to turn it into a hangout for her vaudeville friends. Bob Hope, Martha Raye, Betty Grable and, of course, George Burns are among the students of the "new curriculum." Songs include "I Fall in Love with You Every Day" and "You're a Natural." 187 min. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English mono.
Garden Of The Moon [DVD](1938) DVD
Directed by Busby Berkeley, this romantic musical comedy stars Pat O'Brien as the owner of the Garden of the Moon nightclub. As he and bandleader John Payne endlessly bicker, they both try to win the heart of beauty Margaret Lindsay. With Johnnie Davis, Melville Cooper, Isabel Jeans; songs include "Love Is Where You Find It," "The Girlfriend of the Whirling Dervish," "Confidentially," and more. 94 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
The Great Profile [DVD](1940) DVD
In full late-life, self-satirical mode, John Barrymore plays an arrogant, fading ham whose intemperance (in every sense of the word) gets him booted off yet another Hollywood set. To affect a comeback, he mounts a production of a lousy play...which only becomes a hit once he starts going onstage loaded! Anne Baxter, John Payne, Lionel Atwill, Gregory Ratoff, Mary Beth Hughes co-star. 82 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Remember The Day [DVD](1941) DVD
As she awaits a photo opportunity with the presidential candidate (Shepperd Strudwick) who'd been her pupil 25 years earlier, an elderly schoolteacher (Claudette Colbert) reflects on the days when the politico-to-be (Douglas Croft) had a puppy-dog crush on her, and on her life with the colleague/husband (John Payne) whom she lost in World War I. Affecting drama co-stars Anne Revere, Frieda Inescort. 86 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
The Alice Faye Collection, Vol. 2 [DVD] DVD
Five-disc set includes "Hollywood Cavalcade," "Rose of Washington Square," "The Great American Broadcast," "Hello Frisco, Hello," and "Four Jills in a Jeep."
Iceland [DVD](1942) DVD
When the Marines land in Iceland during World War II, Reykjavik beauty Sonja Henie receives a whimsical offer of marriage from smart-alecky soldier John Payne, who doesn't know such actions are taken seriously in her country. Jack Oakie and Sammy Kaye and His Orchestra also star. Henie's incredible skatework and the song "There Will Never Be Another You" are highlights. 79 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
To The Shores Of Tripoli [DVD](1942) DVD
Spoiled rich youth John Payne finds out a hitch in the Marine Corps isn't the same as a vacation in the Hamptons, but under the eye of D.I. Randolph Scott he becomes a full-fledged leatherneck. Rousing WWII flag-waver also stars Maureen O'Hara, Henry (Harry) Morgan, Maxie Rosenbloom. 86 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital stereo, Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish; theatrical trailer; interactive menus; scene access.
Hello Frisco, Hello [DVD](1943) DVD
Lively and colorful musical set on the sprawling Barbary Coast, where entrepreneur John Payne opens a saloon and becomes romantically involved with socialite Lynn Bari, pushing main singing attraction Alice Faye out of his life. Misfortune and marital problems soon follow Payne around, while Faye finds fame in Europe. Can they reunite? Songs include Oscar-winner "You'll Never Know." 99 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; isolated music score; featurettes; photo gallery; theatrical trailer.
The Dolly Sisters [DVD](1945) DVD
Betty Grable and June Haver sing and dance their way through the title roles in this breezy musical biodrama about the vaudeville duo who charmed America in the early 1900s. With John Payne, Frank Latimore, S.Z. Sakall. Songs include "I Can't Begin to Tell You," "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows," "Give Me the Moonlight." 114 min. Soundtrack: English; audio commentary; lobby cards; photo gallery.
The Betty Grable Collection, Vol. 1 [DVD] DVD
Four-disc set includes "Down Argentine Way," "Moon Over Miami," "The Dolly Sisters," and "My Blue Heaven."
Sentimental Journey [DVD](1946) DVD
Aware of the precarious state of her health, and not wanting her producer husband (John Payne) to go on alone, an actress (Maureen O'Hara) moves ahead on the adoption of an orphan girl (Connie Marshall). Her husband half-heartedly goes along, but will he accept single fatherhood when tragedy strikes? Four-hankie standard-setter also stars William Bendix, Cedric Hardwicke. 94 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Wake Up And Dream [DVD](1946) DVD
When her sailor big brother (John Payne) is reported missing in action during World War II, a young girl (Connie Marshall) enlists their boarding house neighbors--including his sweetheart (June Haver) and an eccentric oldster (Clem Bevans) who owns a land-bound sloop--in a bold scheme to try and find him. Light, tune-leavened fable co-stars John Ireland, Charlotte Greenwood; songs include "Give Me the Simple Life." 92 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
The Razor's Edge [Blu-ray](1946)
The first film version of W. Somerset Maugham's novel features Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell, a WWI vet who turns his back on his materialistic, upper-class friends and embarks on a global search for the meaning of life. To conduct this journey, he also sacrifices his relationship with his fiancee (Gene Tierney)--who can't give up on their love even after she gets married to another man. Clifton Webb, Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner Anne Baxter, and Herbert Marshall as Maugham co-star. 145 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English DTS HD mono Master Audio, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish; audio commentary; newsreel footage.
The Razor's Edge [DVD](1946) DVD
The first film version of W. Somerset Maugham's novel features Tyrone Power as Larry Darrell, a WWI vet who turns his back on his materialistic, upper-class friends and embarks on a global search for the meaning of life. To conduct this journey, he also sacrifices his relationship with his fiancee (Gene Tierney)--who can't give up on their love even after she gets married to another man. Clifton Webb, Best Supporting Actress Oscar-winner Anne Baxter, and Herbert Marshall as Maugham co-star. 145 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital stereo, Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish.
Miracle On 34th Street [Blu-ray](1947)
Perennial holiday film classic relates the tale of "Kris Kringle," a Macy's department store Santa Claus claiming to be the genuine article--much to the consternation of a humbugging store exec who is raising her daughter not to believe in fantasy. But when the gift-giver is declared insane, a good-hearted lawyer fights to prove that the man truly is jolly old St. Nicholas. Edmund Gwenn (in an Academy Award-winning performance), Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood, and John Payne star. 96 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio, Dolby Digital mono, French Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English (SDH), Spanish; audio commentary; featurettes; newsreel footage; poster gallery; promotional short.
Miracle On 34th Street (Special Edition) [DVD](1947) DVD
Perennial holiday film classic relates the tale of "Kris Kringle," a Macy's department store Santa Claus claiming to be the genuine article--much to the consternation of a humbugging store exec who is raising her daughter not to believe in fantasy. But when the gift-giver is declared insane, a good-hearted lawyer fights to prove that the man truly is jolly old St. Nicholas. Edmund Gwenn (in an Academy Award-winning performance), Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood, and John Payne star. Two-disc set includes the original film, a colorized version, and a 1955 remake starring Thomas Mitchell from "The 20th-Century Fox Hour." 96 min. Standard; Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital mono, Spanish Dolby Digital mono, French Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish; audio commentary; documentaries.
The Crooked Way [DVD](1949) DVD
This tense crime drama stars John Payne as a WWII veteran suffering from extreme amnesia who returns home to L.A. to piece his life back together after being released from the hospital. He soon finds himself caught between police and the mob after learning that he was once a ruthless gangster. Wishing to remain lawful, Payne must navigate a seamy criminal underworld on his own to clear his name after being framed for murder. Sonny Tufts, Ellen Drew, and Rhys Williams co-star. 86 min. Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.
99 River Street [DVD](1953) DVD
Fate denied boxer-turned-cabbie Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) a heavyweight championship, but will the bitter brute earn a shot at redemption by helping clear the name of a young woman accused of murder? Driscoll's path to salvation gets even tougher when his wife (Peggie Castle) turns up dead in the back of his cab. Hard-hitting film noir co-stars Evelyn Keyes, Frank Faylen. 83 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.
Raiders Of The Seven Seas [DVD](1953) DVD
After the great pirate Barbarossa (John Payne) escapes from a Spanish prison with fellow inmates he recruits as his seafaring crew, he takes to the waters with a stolen vessel and a countess (Donna Reed) he intends to hold for a hefty ransom. However, the swashbuckler's dark heart is soon melted by her charms, leading him to chart an even more dangerous course. With Gerald Mohr, Lon Chaney, Jr. 88 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
Kansas City Confidential [DVD](1953) DVD
A bitter ex-cop becomes the criminal mastermind behind a huge armored car heist, and a former con must turn investigator when he's falsely accused of the crime. Intriguing underworld saga stars John Payne, Neville Brand, Coleen Gray, Lee Van Cleef. 98 min.
Silver Lode [DVD](1954) DVD
Western action is mixed with an allegorical look at '50s McCarthyism in this tale starring John Payne as a frontier sheriff who must fight to prove his innocence when U.S. marshal Dan Duryea comes to town with a warrant for his arrest on theft and murder charges. Lizabeth Scott co-stars. 80 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; biographies; theatrical trailer; scene access.
Slightly Scarlet [DVD](1955) DVD
Intriguing film noir drama (and one of the few of that genre to be shot in color) stars John Payne as a hood working for big-city crime boss Ted de Corsia. Sent to dig up incriminating information on a reform-minded mayoral candidate, Payne falls for the politician's secretary, redhead Rhonda Fleming, and decides to turn in his boss...if he lives that long. With Arlene Dahl, Kent Taylor; based on a James L. Cain novel. 99 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; audio commentary; theatrical trailer; scene access.
Deadly Dames: Film Noir Collector's Set [DVD] DVD
Three-disc boxed set includes "Blonde Ice," "Slightly Scarlet," and "The Naked Kiss."
Tennessee's Partner (Widescreen Version) [DVD](1955) DVD
Ronald Reagan's the fast-triggered gunslinger, John Payne's the quick-witted cardsharp, and Rhonda Fleming's the high-living dancehall owner who comes between them, in this frontier drama based on a Bret Harte story. With Coleen Gray, Chubby Johnson; look for a young Angie Dickinson. 87 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; theatrical trailer.
Rebel In Town [DVD](1956) DVD
When a bank robbery pulled by the ex-Confederate Mason clan leaves a young boy dead, Gray Mason (Ben Cooper) is the only member of his family to feel any remorse. He returns to town and is taken in by John and Nora Willoughby (John Payne and Ruth Roman), unaware that they're the little boy's parents. When John discovers who Gray really is, will it lead to forgiveness or more bloodshed? J. Carrol Naish, John Smith also star in this searing western drama. 79 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
The Boss [DVD](1956) DVD
World War I veteran Matt Brady (John Payne) is given a cushy government job by his politician brother. After his brother dies, Brady assumes control of his local political machine, rising to a position of such power that he nearly manages to take over an entire state. William Bishop, Gloria McGehee, Doe Avedon, Roy Roberts also star in this tale of corruption and greed, loosely based on Kansas City "boss" Tom Pendergast. 89 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.
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They Ran for Their Lives (1968) with Scott Brady, John Carradine, Anthony Eisley, and Jim Davis; directed by John Payne
O'Conner's Ocean (1960) with Irene Hervey, Edward Andrews, and Bea Benaderet
Bailout at 43,000 (1957) with Karen Steele and Constance Ford
Hidden Fear (1957) with Conrad Nagel
Rebel in Town (1956) with Ruth Roman, J. Carrol Naish, Ben Cooper, John Smith, Ben Johnson, and James Griffith
The Boss (1956) with Roy Roberts and Joe Flynn; Payne also wrote and produced
Hold Back the Night (1956) with Peter Graves, Chuck Connors, and Mona Freeman
Slightly Scarlet (1956) with Rhonda Fleming, Arlene Dahl, Lance Fuller, and Kent Taylor
Hell's Island (1955) with Mary Murphy
Tennessee's Partner (1955) with Rhonda Fleming, Coleen Gray, and Ronald Reagan
The Road to Denver (1955) with Lee Van Cleef, Mona Freeman, and Glenn Strange
Santa Fe Passage (1955) with Faith Domergue and Rod Cameron
Rails Into Laramie (1954) with Mari Blanchard, Dan Duryea, and Lee Van Cleef
Silver Lode (1954) with Lizabeth Scott, Dan Duryea, Stuart Whitman, and John Hudson
99 River Street (1953) with Peggie Castle, Evelyn Keyes, and Glenn Langan
Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953) with Gerald Mohr, Donna Reed, and Lon Chaney Jr.
The Vanquished (1953) with Jan Sterling and Coleen Gray
The Blazing Forest (1952) with Richard Arlen, Agnes Moorehead, William Demarest, and Susan Morrow
Caribbean (1952) with Arlene Dahl and Woody Strode
Kansas City Confidential (1952) with Coleen Gray, Lee Van Cleef, and Neville Brand
Crosswinds (1951) with Rhonda Fleming and Forrest Tucker
Passage West (1951) with Dennis O'Keefe and Mary Beth Hughes
The Eagle and the Hawk (1950) with Rhonda Fleming and Dennis O'Keefe
Tripoli (1950) with Maureen O'Hara
El Paso (1949) with Sterling Hayden and Gail Russell
Captain China (1949) with Gail Russell, Lon Chaney Jr., Edgar Bergen, and Robert Armstrong
The Crooked Way (1949) with Sonny Tufts and Ellen Drew
The Saxon Charm (1948) with Robert Montgomery and Susan Hayward
Larceny (1947) with Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, and Joan Caulfield
Miracle on 34th Street (1947) with Maureen O'Hara and Natalie Wood
The Razor's Edge (1946) with Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, and Anne Baxter
Sentimental Journey (1946) with Maureen O'Hara and Glenn Langan
Wake Up and Dream (1946) with John Ireland
The Dolly Sisters (1945) with Betty Grable and June Haver
Hello Frisco, Hello (1943) with Alice Faye, John Archer, and June Havoc
Footlight Serenade (1942) with Betty Grable and Victor Mature
Iceland (1942) with Sonja Henie
Springtime in the Rockies (1942) with Betty Grable, Carmen Miranda, and Cesar Romero
To the Shores of Tripoli (1942) with Maureen O'Hara and Randolph Scott
Remember the Day (1941) with Claudette Colbert and Anne Revere
Week-end in Havana (1941) with Alice Faye, Carmen Miranda, and Cesar Romero
Sun Valley Serenade (1941) with Sonja Henie, Joan Davis, Glenn Miller, and Milton Berle
The Great American Broadcast (1941) with Alice Faye, Cesar Romero, Mary Beth Hughes, and Jack Oakie
Tin Pan Alley (1940) with Alice Faye and Betty Grable
Tear Gas Squad (1940) with Dennis Morgan, George Reeves, and William Hopper
The Great Profile (1940) with John Barrymore, Mary Beth Hughes, Lionel Atwill, and Anne Baxter
King of the Lumberjacks (1940)
Maryland (1940) with Walter Brennan, Fay Bainter, Terry Moore, and Brenda Joyce
Star Dust (1940) with Linda Darnell and Mary Beth Hughes
Indianapolis Speedway (1939) with Ann Sheridan
Wings of the Navy (1939) with George Brent and Olivia de Havilland
Kid Nightingale (1939) with Jane Wyman
Garden of the Moon (1938) with Pat O'Brien and Penny Singleton
College Swing (1938) with George Burns, Gracie Allen, Robert Cummings, Bob Hope, and Martha Raye
Love on Toast (1938)
Hats Off (1937) with Mae Clarke
Fair Warning (1937) with Betty Furness
Dodsworth (1936) with Walter Huston, Mary Astor, David Niven, and Spring Byington
Death Valley Days, 1952-1975 TV series. Payne hosted this series during its final run, from 1972-1975
The Restless Gun, 1957-1959 TV series. Payne portrayed Vint Bonner. A total of 78 episodes were produced by Payne's company Window Productions.
Columbo, episode Forgotten Lady, originally aired September 14, 1975
Cade's County, episode Requiem for Miss Madrid, originally aired December 12, 1971
Gunsmoke, episode Gentry's Law, originally aired October 12, 1970
Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, episode The Restless Gun, originally aired March 29, 1957. This show served as the pilot for Payne's series of the same name
Zane Grey Theater, episode Until the Man Dies, originally aired January 25, 1957
The Best of Broadway, episode The Philadelphia Story, originally aired December 8, 1954
john payne film now showingWatch John Payne's 1952 noir thriller Kansas City Confidential
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