Classic Entertainment Autographs

Cat. #001991432: BARBARA PAYTON

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Extremely rare and desirable vintage 3.5 x 5.5-inch black and white Picturegoer postcard portrait, boldly signed and inscribed in black fountain pen in-person in July, 1952, less than a year after her starring role, opposite Lon Chaney, Jr., in Curt Siodmak's cult horror classic Bride of the Gorilla (1951).  One of the saddest tales ever to come out of Hollywood has to be that of Barbara Payton, the buxom, blue-eyed, bleached-blonde sexpot who seemed so full of promise when she was signed by Universal in 1948.  From the get-go, her considerable talent was overshadowed by a brassy, lurid persona and her drop-dead gorgeous looks, as evident in films like Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye (1950) with James Cagney, Dallas (1950) with Gary Cooper and Only the Valiant (1951) with Gregory Peck.  She grew increasingly caught up in the glitz and glamour of Tinseltown, and her career began taking a backseat to a reckless life, filled with capricious romances involving a number of top stars and producers, many of them married.  The most infamous of her trysts involved simultaneously dating Franchot Tone and Tom Neal, who nearly murdered one another over her affections.  The all-out brawl left Tone with brain damage, and Payton with a black eye and decimated reputation.  She married Tone after he recovered, but left him after only seven weeks to return to the violence-prone Neal, who proceeded to abuse her for four long years.  During that time, her career plummeted to the level of B-movies and bit parts, including Hammer's sci-fi flick Four-Sided Triangle (1953), despite a gallant effort to revive her career in European pictures.  By then, her once beautiful face had grown blotchy and her spectacular figure bloated, and she sank deeper into the bottle.  From 1955 to 1963, there were various brushes with the law, among them passing bad checks, public intoxication and, ultimately, prostitution.  She was forced to sleep on park benches, and was beaten and bruised by pimps, losing teeth in the process.  In 1967, after failed attempts at sobriety, she finally moved in with her parents in San Diego to try to dry out, but, alas, it was too late:  Not long thereafter, the 39-year-old former starlet was found on the bathroom floor, dead of heart and liver failure.  Somehow, through all this misery, she managed to pen a tell-all book ironically entitled I Am Not Ashamed (1963).  Her autograph is impossibly uncommon in any format and this is the loveliest example we've ever encountered.