The epitome of 1950's extravagance and decadence, Jayne Mansfield was simply a very "live" caricature of blonde stereotype starlets of that era. One of the blonde bombshells, along with Anita Ekberg and Marilyn Monroe, Jayne was one of the brightest celebrities in Hollywood's golden era.
Born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Jane made her first big "splash" in late 1954, at a Howard Hughes press junket for the Jane Russell film, Underwater. Jayne "just happened" to be sunbathing by the pool in a skintight red lame one piece suit, when she fell into the pool, breaking her suit strap. She "came up bouncing" and the press had a field day. The "splash" showed up in Variety in January of 1955 and proved to be a breakthrough opportunity.
Thus began numerous photo ops and beauty titles. Some of the titles Jayne held were:
- Miss Negligee
- Miss Nylon Sweater
- Miss Freeway
- Miss Electric Switch
- Miss Geiger Counter
- Miss 100% Pure Maple Syrup
- Miss 4th of July
- Miss Tomato
Strangely enough, Jayne's next knockout
performance was on Broadway
, where she starred in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter
. It Opened on October 12, 1955 to rave reviews
and headlines which included, "Sex on the Rocks," and "Broadway's Biggest Towelful!."
In May of 1956, she attended Mae West's show and it was there she met her future husband, bodybuilder and showman, Mickey Hargitay. It was about this time that Twentieth Century Fox began to pay attention to Miss Mansfield and they produced her first film, A Girl Can't Help It. It would become one of the top 20 films of that year and with its rock and roll sound track, a huge success.
On January 13, 1958, Jayne and Mickey married in Miami; a marriage that would only last six years. Several films followed but none held up to the success of her first. The beginning of the end to her film career came with the film in which she co-starred with husband Mickey, in The Loves of Hercules. Offered the lead, she only agreed to take it if Mickey could play Hercules. From here on she would make only low-budget European films which mainly showed off her anatomy. In the early '60's, the duo of Mickey and Jayne performed in Vegas with Mickey twirling Jayne around in scantily clad outfits. Next for Jayne was her nude appearance in Playboy magazine which would become at that time, the biggest seller in magazine history.
On June 27th, 1967, Jayne performed her nightclub show at Steven's Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi. At 2:15 the following morning, on a highway between New Orleans and Biloxi, Jayne was killed in a car crash. Rumors that she was decapitated circulate 'til this day, but her undertaker, James Roberts, has verified that her body was completely intact. Her sudden death shocked Hollywood and her fans, but has certainly helped her secure the legend of a starlet that remains today.