Barbara Payton

Barbara Payton

in Bad Blonde (1953) Born Barbara Lee Redfield
November 16, 1927(1927-11-16)
Cloquet, Minnesota, U.S. Died May 8, 1967 (aged 39)
San Diego, California, U.S. Occupation Actress Years active 1949 – 1955 Spouse(s) William Hodge (m. 1942–1942) «start: (1942)–end+1: (1943)»”Marriage: William Hodge to Barbara Payton” Location: (linkback:
John Payton Jr. (m. 1945–1948) «start: (1945)–end+1: (1949)»”Marriage: John Payton Jr. to Barbara Payton” Location: (linkback:
Franchot Tone (m. 1951–1952) «start: (1951)–end+1: (1953)»”Marriage: Franchot Tone to Barbara Payton” Location: (linkback:
George A. Provas (m. 1955–1958) «start: (1955)–end+1: (1959)»”Marriage: George A. Provas to Barbara Payton” Location: (linkback:

Barbara Payton (November 16, 1927 – May 8, 1967) was an American film actress perhaps best known for her stormy social life and eventual battles with alcohol and drug addiction. Her life has been the subject of several recent books including Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story (2007), by John O’Dowd, and L.A. Despair: A Landscape of Crimes and Bad Times (2005), by John Gilmore.


Born Barbara Lee Redfield in Cloquet, Minnesota, she was the daughter of restaurateurs and raised in Odessa, Texas. In 1945 at the age of 17, she headed for Hollywood in search of a career in movies and was eventually placed under contract by Universal Studios where she appeared in several small parts.She first gained notice in the 1949 film noir Trapped, co-starring Lloyd Bridges. After being screen-tested by James Cagney and his producer brother William, Payton starred with Cagney in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye in 1950. She soon signed a contract with Cagney’s production company. Her brief stardom continued with significant roles in the western films Dallas (1950), co-starring Gary Cooper, and Only the Valiant (1951), with Gregory Peck.Her career decline began with the 1951 horror film Bride of the Gorilla, co-starring Raymond Burr.

In 1951 while engaged to actor Franchot Tone, Payton began having an affair with B-movie actor Tom Neal. She soon went back and forth publicly between Neal and Tone. Eventually Neal, a former college boxer, physically attacked Tone at Payton’s apartment leaving him in an 18-hour coma with a smashed cheekbone, broken nose and concussion. The incident garnered huge publicity and Payton decided to honor her engagement to Tone. After being married to him for 53 days, she walked out on Tone and returned to Neal. The Payton/Neal relationship, essentially ending their Hollywood film careers, lasted four years. During that time the couple capitalized on the notorious press coverage by touring in plays such as The Postman Always Rings Twice, based on the popular 1946 film of the same name. They would star together in The Great Jesse James Raid, a B-movie western barely released to theaters in 1953.In addition to affairs with Howard Hughes, Bob Hope, Woody Strode, Guy Madison, George Raft, John Ireland, Steve Cochran and Texas oilman Bob Neal, she was married four times:

  • William Hodge (m. 1943, annulled)
  • John Payton Jr., an Air Force pilot (m. 10-Feb-1945, div. 1950, one child, John Lee Payton , born 1947)
  • Franchot Tone, actor (m. 1951, div. 1952)
  • George A. Provas (a.k.a. Tony Provas, m. 1957, div. Aug. 1958)
  • From 1955 to 1963, Payton’s growing alcoholism and drug abuse led to multiple skirmishes with the law including the passing of bad checks and eventually an arrest on Sunset Boulevard for prostitution.[1] In 1963, she was paid $1,000 for her ghost-written autobiography I Am Not Ashamed, noted for unflattering photographs taken of her at that time. In the book, Payton admitted to being forced to sleep on bus benches and suffering regular beatings as a prostitute.

    In 1967, after failed efforts to curb her drinking, she moved in with her parents in San Diego in an attempt to dry out. On May 8, 1967, Payton died at her parents’ home; the cause of death was heart and liver failure.[2]Payton was cremated and is interred in a niche at Cypress View Mausoleum and Crematory in San Diego, California.

    Year Film Role Notes
    1949 Silver Butte Rita Landon
    Once More, My Darling Girl Photographer Uncredited
    Trapped Meg Dixon
    The Pecos Pistol Kay McCormick
    1950 Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye Holiday Carleton
    Dallas Flo
    1951 Only the Valiant Cathy Eversham
    Drums in the Deep South Kathy Summers
    Bride of th
    Mrs. Dina Van Gelder
    1953 The Flanagan Boy Lorna Vecchi Alternative titles: Bad Blonde
    The Woman Is Trouble
    Four Sided Triangle Lena/Helen Alternative title: The Monster and the Woman
    Run for the Hills Jane Johnson
    The Great Jesse James Raid Kate
    1955 Murder Is My Beat Eden Lane

  • ^ The Big Chat: John O’Dowd Interview May 20, 2003
  • ^ “The Private Life and Times of Barbara Payton”. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
    • O’Dowd, John. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story. (Albany, Georgia: BearManor Media, 2007) ISBN 1-59393-063-1


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