John Payne was the ruggedly handsome and vocally gifted leading man in films of the 1930s and '40s.
Payne, who once described his acting career as "living out a kid's dream" wherein he played a series of singers, cowboys and even pirates, more recently had become an astute businessman with property in Malibu and such television properties as the once-successful "The Restless Gun."
At one time he was among Hollywood's hottest properties, playing opposite Alice Faye and Betty Grable in a series of musicals and with Maureen O'Hara in his own and nearly everyone else's holiday favorite, "The Miracle on 34th Street."
He was an understudy in the 1935 musical "At Home Abroad," which costarred Reginald Gardiner and Beatrice Lillie. When Gardiner became ill, the 22-year-old Payne went on for him.
In the best Hollywood tradition, he was seen by a studio talent scout who placed him under contract to Sam Goldwyn.
Payne's first film was to become a classic—"Dodsworth" in 1936 with Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton.
He moved to Paramount and made a series of melodramas and musicals, and then signed with Warner Bros. When Dick Powell turned down the Busby Berkeley musical "Garden of the Moon" in 1938, Payne was given the role and thereafter he appeared as singer and actor in some memorable pictures.
Among them were "Tin Pan Alley," "Sun Valley Serenade," "Springtime in the Rockies," "Hello Frisco Hello," "The Dolly Sisters" and many more.
He also was a dramatic force in "The Razor's Edge" and "To the Shores of Tripoli" and a cowboy in such saddle melodramas as "El Paso," "Rails Into Laramie," "Santa Fe Passage" and others.
He made nearly 80 pictures but said in a 1974 interview, in connection with his return to the stage in "Good News," that "I never could quite take it seriously."