(November 16, 1927-May 8, 1967)
Whether you've seen her movies or not, at some point you have come across the name of Barbara Payton. When this blonde, blue-eyed beauty traveled to Hollywood from her hometown of Cloquet, Minnesota, she seemed destined for success. She was undeniably stunning on the silver screen and she even got to star alongside some of Hollywood's leading tough guys such as James Cagney and Gregory Peck. However, the films that should have made her a household name were instead overshadowed by the joyless and often scandalous affairs of her personal life.
Barbara Payton was a real-life femme fatale who caused inconsolable pain for not only herself but for those around her, mainly Tom Neal and Franchot Tone who often physically fought for her affections. Ultimately, she lost custody of her only son, John, and the film industry shut thier doors in her once-beautiful face. Barbara then found herself in the unforgiving world of prostitution, alcohol abuse, and trouble with the law. When she failed to stop her drinking habits, she moved back in with her parents in San Diego. I think at this point Barbara truly wanted to turn her life around and get back on her own two feet again. She probably could have found happiness pursuing her other talents like cooking and interior design. It is impossible to change one's past but one's future can change for the better.
But sadly, the pain was far too deep. Not even her parents could help bring back the vivacious young woman she once was. Barbara Lee Redfield, better known as Barbara Payton, died alone on the bathroom floor of thier home at only 39 years old. I know that she brought most of her sadness on herself, but the core of the problem was that she was a troubled woman who desperately needed help.
You can read more about her life in John O'Dowd's book "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye: The Barbara Payton Story". It's available on Amazon.
Films Barbara apppeared in that I recommend:
Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950)
Only the Valiant (1951)
Bride of the Gorilla (1951)
Four-Sided Triangle (1953)
Drums in the Deep South (1951)