Burn Bright, Burn Fast: Having Died Before Her 40s, Barbara Payton Became Hollywood's Most Tragic Tale

Date September 17, 2018 18:38

Barbara Payton was one of the most promising Hollywood actresses, whose tragic life is a tale not many remember. 

Questionable rise to stardom

Payton had an incredible beauty and determination. In the beginning of 1950s, she was set on becoming a Hollywood legend, and wasn't afraid to employ everything in order to achieve her goal.

undefined© Only the Valiant (1951) / Warner Bros.

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In his biography of the controversial actress, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, John O'Dowd alleges that Payton wasn't ashamed of working her way up in Hollywood by being intimate with famous film moguls. As O'Dowd told Fox News:

At one point, she was earning $10,000 a week, which was really an unheard of amount back then, especially for a young starlet.


Barbara loved acting and didn't miss opportunities to shine on the big screen. Unfortunately, she loved the social life, which came along with her starlet status, even more.


Twenty-something actress was seen with many Hollywood men, which earned her a questionable status, but O'Dowd defends her by pointing out the industry's double standards:

She was known to be a promiscuous person. But the thing is, she was getting all the criticism for it, but the men she was engaged with were just as promiscuous. However, back then, they were not criticized for that type of behavior. 

undefined© Trapped (1949) / Bryan Foy Productions

Bad reputation was following Barbara along with her love of drinking, which avalanched her career.

Tough years and the ultimate fall

Payton's beauty and her socialite status led her to many controversial relationships. Men were fighting for her, and she even got married twice in the 50s, but both marriages lasted less than a year.


Her inability to sustain a relationship, paired with the loss of custody of her son in 1950, made Barbara turn to alcohol and later, heroin.

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Payton was destroying herself, her beauty was fading, and so did the job offers. It seemed that everyone forgot about her just as quickly as she earned her fame.

undefined© Trapped (1949) / Bryan Foy Productions

By 1962, Barbara gave up on trying to revive her career and turned to prostitution, as she personally revealed in a tell-all book I Am Not Ashamed.

Barbara never let go of her addiction, and she collapsed in her parents' home in 1967. Payton was only 39 years old, but the damage she has done on her body was unimaginable. 

Remembered by the son

While doing the reasearch for his book, O'Dowd found Payton's son, and had an chance to ask him about his feelings towards Barbara. Fortunately, he didn't remember her as a failed actress, and chose to forget about her reputation.


#barbarapayton #barbarapayton💎

Публикация от Tris Sia (@il_etait_une_fois_hollywood)

According to O'Dowd, Barbara's son revealed the following:

He said she treated him with utter kindness and affection. She did the best that she could…He doesn’t hold any bitterness towards her. His love for her is still intact to this day. Barbara was a very sweet, kind person. She was just misunderstood. She was fatally flawed.


#barbarapayton #barbarapayton💎

Публикация от Tris Sia (@il_etait_une_fois_hollywood)

Barbara Payton could've rivaled Marilyn Monroe if it wasn't for the choices she made in her life. At the end, it's difficult to blame a young girl in early twenties, who didn't know any better. She burned bright and fast her entire life, and that is how she left this world.

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