John H. Payne '36
John H. Payne grew up in Roanoke and Salem, Virginia. He enrolled at Roanoke College in the fall on 1932, The following year he went to Columbia University in New York to study journalism, but because interested in the theater and set his sights on Broadway.
In 1935, Payne got a part in a Broadway show starring Beatrice Lillie. His song and dance work for the musical comedy caught the eye of a Hollywood talent scout that helped launch Payne into a successful career in motion pictures. This came just one year later, with a motion picture entitled "Dodsworth."
Payne worked with most of the outstanding film stars of Hollywood's golden years-the 30's and 40's. He produced and starred in Restless Gun, a TV western serious which in 1958 reached nearly 30 million viewers. He also appeared in a revival of the 1927 college musical Good News. In total, John Payne made 80 movies since he began his film career in 1936.
Payne also did radio work. He was star of the "Restless Gun" TV show, which he later ended his affiliation with because they supported cigarettes, something he did not support because of their direct cause of cancer. Payne also paid tribute to his alma mater in 1974 when he did a film interview for a TV show that talked about prominent alumni from Roanoke College.
John H. Payne was awarded the Roanoke College Medal on May 8, 1967 for his distinctive service and professional achievement.