Helena Carter, James Cagney and Barbara Payton in "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" (1950) directed by Gordon Douglas
Barbara Payton left her home of Odessa, Texas when she was seventeen to travel west searching for a Hollywood career. After scoring small roles under contract to Universal in 1949, her first major break came in 1950. Spotted by James Cagney and his brother, a producer, they signed her to Cagney's company for a starring role in the screen adaptation of Horace McCoy's "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye". Sadly this was the only major break Barbara had.
"James Cagney was coming to town for a fund drive. I always liked him because he was tough and ruthless on screen and it fitted my theory of what a man should be. I found out that admission to the auditorium was a dollar twenty-five. Not only I couldn't afford that but none of my boyfriends could either. Yet I had to see Jimmy Cagney in person. I was standing in a big crowd by the artist's entrance and a boy motioned to me. 'You're cute', he said. 'Want to see the show, kid?', he asked, 'Cagney gave my father two tickets - see?' I was cautious. I was learning. 'What do I have to do?' He bent toward me. 'A feel or two. So what? You got inside free. Best seats in the house'. 'No, thanks', I said coldly, but I was tempted." -"I Am Not Ashamed" (1963) by Barbara Payton
She appeared in a few more films until 1955, small time roles and mostly B-pictures such as "Bride of the Gorilla" (1951) and "Four Sided Triangle" (1953).
Her lover Tom Neal, with whom she reenacted "The Postman Always Rings Twice" on stage in 1953, called her "alley cat in heat". Any sexual deviancy was considered dangerous in the 1950s, so much so that a Republican Party chairman once claimed that "Sexual perverts... have infiltrated our Government in recent years," and were "perhaps as dangerous as the actual Communists."
Much post-war propaganda, fueled by fears of nuclear war and images of happy couples setting up bomb shelters, emphasized the importance of a good family – anchored by a kind, submissive, domestic woman – as the key to keeping society stable in dangerous times. Even the Kinsey Report (which revealed the dirty secrets behind white Americans’ sex lives in the late ’40s and early ’50s) would have labeled Payton’s behavior "outside the norm."
Barbara Payton & Gregory Peck in a publicity photo for "Only the Valiant" (1951) directed by Gordon Douglas
President Jack L. Warner dropped Payton from the studio and left her to wander through the professional abyss of pitiful B-movies like "Four-Sided Triangle" (1953), "Bad Blonde" (1953) and "The Great Jesse James Raid" (1953).
Actress Martha Hyer (born on August 10, 1924 in Fort Worth, Texas) was once in the running for the role of Marion Crane in Hitchcock's "Psicosis" (1960), but lost out to Janet Leigh. She was discovered by an RKO talent agent while acting with the Pasadena Playhouse.
Martha Hyer has a supporting role as Miss Harwick in Richard Fleischer's noir "The Clay Pigeon" (1949) written by Carl Foreman, based on a true story.
Martha Hyer dated Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly and John F. Kennedy in the mid 50’s, and married producer Hal B. Wallis (31 December 1966 - 5 October 1986).
Martha Hyer dancing with Humphrey Bogart in "Sabrina" (1954) directed by Billy Wilder
Humphrey Bogart as Linus Larrabee and Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina Fairchild in "Sabrina" (1954)
Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in "Breakfast At Tiffany's" (1961) directed by Blake Edwards
As to the affair of Gene Kelly with Doris Lilly, the gal who was rumored to be Truman Capote's inspiration for the character of Holly Golightly in "Breakfast at Tiffany"'s and the author of "How to Marry a Millionaire", it is most likely true. Lilly's diaries were discovered after her death in 1991 and she wrote about her "meeting" with Gene Kelly.
According to entries from 1946, they met a a party given by Frank Sinatra. "I fell for him like mad." And then she wrote: "He can never be replaced. Never. He is in a class all his own. We were together for hours. He left me at 6:30 in the morning. He was wonderful." -"Darling Lilly" (1991) by Daniel Shaw.