John Payne

1912 - 1989

Perhaps not so surprisingly, John Payne maintained that his favorite movie of all time was one of his own -- Miracle on 34th Street (1947) -- simply because it reflected his own strong and spiritual belief system. Today, of course, the film, which co-stars beautiful Maureen O'Hara, Oscar-winning Edmund Gwenn as Kris Kringle and little non-believing scene-stealer Natalie Wood, is a perennial holiday favorite and his best-remembered film role despite the mighty fine product he turned out over the years.Born John Howard Payne on May 28, 1912 (not May 23, according to his daughter, actress Julie Payne), he was the middle son of three boys (Peter and Robert were the others). His parents, businessman George Washington Payne and Ida Hope (ne Schaeffer) Payne were quite well-to-do and came from a rich heritage. John was named after an ancestor who wrote the song, "Home, Sweet, Home." The boys grew up privileged on a Roanoke, Virginia estate complete with equestrian stables and swimming pools.

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