Jayne Mansfield

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Jayne Mansfield on a helicopter flight (1957)

Jayne Mansfield (born April 19, 1933 as Vera Jayne Palmer in Bryn Mawr , Pennsylvania , † June 29, 1967 near Slidell ) was an American film actress and a sex symbol of the 1950s.


Early years

Jayne Mansfield was born in 1933 to lawyer Herbert William Palmer and his wife Vera Jeffrey Palmer in Pennsylvania. Her father died of a heart attack when she was three years old. She first studied at Southern Methodist University in the Department of Arts (Meadows School of the Arts), during her pregnancy at the University of Texas at Austin and from 1954 at the University of California, Los Angeles with the intention of becoming an actress. Ultimately, a part-time job as a model helped her , not least in Playboy . As a child she played the piano and violin.

Even before her breakthrough as a Broadway star and pin-up queen, Mansfield won awards and titles such as Miss Photoflash 1952 , Miss Negligee , Miss Nylon Sweater , Miss Freeway , Miss Electric Switch , Miss Geiger Counter , Gas Station Queen , Miss Analgesin , Cherry Blossom Queen , Miss 100% Pure Maple Syrup , Miss 4th of July , Miss Fire Prevention , Miss Tomato or Hot Dog Ambassador .

Playmate and contract with Warner Bros. (1955)

In February 1955 she was " Playmate of the Month" in Playboy; further photo series in the men's magazine followed almost annually until 1965. Hollywood first became aware of them at a press event for the RKO film The Golden Galley . Mansfield dropped her bikini top in front of the photographers and then dropped into a swimming pool. Warner Bros. managers took a liking to the curvy blonde and signed her.

Despite numerous publicity appearances, which caused the press to be carried away by the slogan "Last night there was a party that Jayne Mansfield wasn't there", as well as her extravagant self-staging, her film career got off to a slow start. After small roles, e.g. B. as a cigarette girl in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) or as a nameless beauty in Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) the studio lost interest in her and dissolved her contract.

Worth mentioning is the crime film Jackals of the Underworld (1955), in which Warner Bros. cast Mansfield in a role that was similar to Marilyn Monroe in the classic film Asphalt Jungle . Here it became clear that the film studio hoped to be able to build Mansfield into its "own" Monroe. After Warner fired her, she made the film A Dead Doesn't Lie (1955), directed by Paul Wendkos . The film showed her in one of her few dramatic roles, for which she received very good reviews. However, the film did not hit theaters until 1957, at the height of her career, and was only moderately successful.

Broadway Success (1955-1956)

After her film career stalled, she received an offer from New York in 1955 and eventually became a star on Broadway . The role of Rita Marlowe in the comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? at the side of Orson Bean and Walter Matthau became the greatest success for the former Playboy photo model, both in the Broadway stage version, for which she received the Theater World Award in 1956 , and in the adapted film version in 1957. George Axelrod's play was a satire on the American film business, and Mansfield played a sex-oriented and glaring parody of the three Hollywood screen goddesses : Rita Hayworth , Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow .

Part of their success was also due to their relentless self-marketing; Like no other star of the time, she presented herself to the public, posed in front of photographers and distributed autographs and photos. Star columnist and Mansfield confidante May Mann wrote in her 1973 biography of Mansfield about the success in New York: “It was amazing. Overnight, she was ... everywhere. ”In April 1956, Jayne Mansfield was featured on the cover of Life magazine , which she called“ Broadway's Smartest Stupid Blonde ”. In New York she met her future second husband, Mister Universum 1955, Mickey Hargitay while visiting the Mae West show . After 444 performances of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? She returned to Hollywood in 1956 and was signed by 20th Century Fox .

Contract with 20th Century Fox, Hollywood star and career in Las Vegas (1956–1962)

At 20th Century Fox Mansfield was to replace Marilyn Monroe after she had canceled her contract with the film studio in 1955. Mansfield's most successful feature films were The Girl Can't Help It (1956), Siren in Blond (1957), both directed by Frank Tashlin , and Sheriff Reluctantly (1958), which was particularly successful in England. In 1957 she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Young Actress for her acting performance in The Girl Can't Help It , and in 1959 she was nominated for the Laurel Award for her role in Reluctant Sheriff .

The roles in her two most successful films, The Girl Can't Help It and Sirene in Blond as well as in Kiss Them for Me (1957) hardly differed and reflected Mansfield's image as an audience-crazy sex bomb and "breast miracle". This led many critics to say that while Mansfield is a good comedian, in the end she can only play herself. Although she often stressed that she wanted to play serious roles, she never shed her flashy image. Roger Ebert wrote of Mansfield: “Jayne Mansfield, who was not a stupid blonde, spent most of her life promoting that image [...] She was a cliché, almost a caricature of the stupid blonde: taller, more blond, stupider, more publicity-obsessed than anyone who was before her. "

Mansfield eventually became a star in the 1950s with her openly flaunted sex appeal . She knew how to present herself as a diva by holding press conferences in the bathtub or by having a heart-shaped swimming pool built into the garden of her Villa Pink Palace . From Bette Davis the so-called "Miss Blitzlicht" was given the saying, "[...] the dramatic art is knowing how to fill a sweater." John Waters once called her the "first female imitator".

Her media-effective publicity appearances became famous. In 1957, for example, at the Hollywood welcome party for the Italian film star Sophia Loren , she wore such an ostentatiously cut-out dress that her nipples almost slipped out of her cleavage . The photo of Loren's irritated look at her table neighbor Mansfield went around the world. In 1960 Mansfield pressed the only 1.60 meter tall actor Mickey Rooney to her open-hearted cleavage at the presentation of a Golden Globe Award , whereupon Rooney told the amused audience “Who wants to be tall?” (“Who wants to be tall?”). Between 1956 and 1957, more than 2500 photos of the Hollywood bosom (Der Spiegel) were published in magazines.

In 1957, Poynter Products Inc. brought a hot water bottle modeled after Mansfield in a pin-up pose onto the market. The hot water bottle was advertised by herself with great attention. In 1957, 20th Century Fox sent “America's Sex Queen” to Europe on a promotional tour lasting several weeks. Their self-expression ensured that the tour was a complete success. In addition, Mansfield advertised nylon stockings and bras, opened department stores and supermarkets, appeared at many charity events and misses. She was also a popular guest on television, for example four times between 1956 and 1966 on the What's My Line? .

In 1958 she was engaged for a revue at the Tropicana in Las Vegas . Because of the great success, the playing time was extended from four to eight weeks. Her husband Mickey Hargitay also appeared in the revue. Mansfield's skin-tight and almost transparent stage wardrobe caused a particular sensation. Further appearances at the Tropicana and the Dunes as well as a record recording entitled Jayne Mansfield Busts Up Las Vegas followed. In 1959 she was the star of the Playboy calendar.

Failures and nightclub singer (1962-1967)

After the failures of the feature films Where All Streets End (1957) and Kiss Them for Me at the side of Cary Grant , 20th Century Fox dropped them and loaned them to second-rate film studios in Europe. She starred in entertainment films like The Love Nights of Hercules , You Whistled - and the guys cuddled (both in 1960) or Homesickness for St. Pauli (1963) next to Freddy Quinn and toured through British nightclubs. In 1961, Mansfield was the star guest at the Berlinale film festival . Together with her husband, she not only had herself photographed next to Willy Brandt , but also had her dress burst on the festival evening, whereupon the 1961 Berlinale was nicknamed the “Busty Berlinale” in the German press.

Upon her return to the United States in the mid-1960s, Mansfield was associated with the Church of Satan , but she only met twice with Anton Szandor LaVey , the founder of that church, to get back into conversation. In 1963 she made the scandalous film Promises! Promises! . The moderate comedy was only remembered through Mansfield's nude scenes, making it the first major Hollywood star to be presented so freely on the big screen. Michael Feeney Callan wrote about Mansfield's appearance in Promises! Promises! :

"America was stunned: No leading actress, including Monroe, had ever risked such exposure."

After promises! Promises! her film career was almost over. In Europe she got a few bigger film roles, which she mostly only showed as a bosom star. She was still popular in Italy, where she received a Silver Mask Award and was voted "Most Popular Actress 1961-1962" by the film press. Due to financial problems, Mansfield was now dependent on appearances in second-rate nightclubs. Their shows consisted mostly of performances of standard hits, songs and gags of their films as well as some sex-oriented dance routines. In 1964, Mansfield staged a photo op with the Beatles at Whiskey a Go Go . The attempt to build on their heyday on Broadway with the plays Rabbit Habit and Champagne Complex (both 1965) failed.

Numerous private problems as well as increasing alcohol and drug abuse made stage work difficult. In addition, the audience had lost interest in the Hollywood blondes after the death of Marilyn Monroe, and the repeated appearance of Mansfield as a sex bomb was now rejected by the serious film press. The film The Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966) shows the two former Hollywood sex symbols Mansfield and Mamie van Doren in a second-class film production. She had her last film appearance in 1967 in a guest role in the feature film Guide for Affair . The film Single Room Furnished and the documentary The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield were only released after her death.

Early Death (1967)

Jayne Mansfield's grave site

Jayne Mansfield died on June 29, 1967, at the age of 34, along with her fiancé, attorney Sam Brody, in a car accident in Louisiana . Her car, a 1966 Buick 225 Electra , hit an articulated truck at high speed on US Highway 90 east of Rigolets Bridge . Mansfield and Brody, seated in front, and their 20-year-old driver Ronnie Harrison were killed.

Three of her five children (Miklós, Zoltán and Mariska) were also in the car; they had slept in the back seats and suffered only minor injuries. Contrary to popular belief, Mansfield's head was not severed in the accident. The press photographers only photographed a blonde hairpiece that had been thrown from her head or had already been lying on the dashboard.

Marriages and children

  • She was married to Paul Mansfield from January 28, 1950 to January 8, 1958. They have a daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield (born November 8, 1950), who accused her mother's future fiancé, Sam Brody, of beating her mother.
  • She was married to actor and Mr. Universe 1955 Mickey Hargitay from January 13, 1958 to May 1963. The marriage had three children: Miklós Jeffrey Palmer Hargitay (born December 21, 1958), Zoltan Anthony Hargitay (born August 1, 1960) and the actress Mariska Hargitay (born January 23, 1964).
  • She married the Italian-born film director Matt Cimber (actually Thomas Vitale Ottaviano) on September 24, 1964; they separated on July 20, 1966. With him Mansfield has a son, Antonio Raphael Ottaviano, known as Tony Cimber (born October 17, 1965). At the time of her death, Mansfield had not yet been divorced.

Posthumous reverences

Jayne Mansfield's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2011), Hollywood

In 1968 the picture Jayne Mansfield by Wolf Vostell was created . In the picture, photographs of Jayne Mansfield as playmate and of the accident scenery are combined and partially painted over and blurred .

In 1980 Mansfield's life was filmed under the title The Jayne Mansfield Story with Loni Anderson as Mansfield and with Arnold Schwarzenegger, still unknown in the film industry, as Mickey Hargitay.

The German band The Multicolored Shades released the track Bleeding in Jayne Mansfield's Car on their album House of Wax in 1985 . The British band Sigue Sigue Sputnik recorded the title Hey Jayne Mansfield Superstar! In 1988 for the album Dress for Excess ! on. The German punk band The Bates sang Mansfield in 1990: In the chorus of the song The Lips of Jane Mansfield it says: "I don't want to die without knowing the pleasure of kissing the lips of Jayne Mansfield". In 1995, the Dutch published Techno - DJ Eddy de Clercq , the piece Jayne Mansfield Is Dead on the compilation V.OLVO (Vereniging Onder Leiding Van Onszelf) - Airbag - A Tribute To Safety . In it he addressed the accidental death of Mansfield and processed a radio report with the death report and the accompanying circumstances as a text passage of the piece of music.

In the film Crash (1996) by David Cronenberg , the action of Jayne Mansfield's accidental death is recreated in a recreated accident scene. In Billy Bob Thornton's Jayne Mansfield's Car (2012), the title gives the car wreck, which is visited by a World War II veteran (played by Robert Duvall ) interested in traffic accidents .

In 2017 the semi-documentary film Mansfield 66/67 by Todd Hughes and P. David Ebersole was released. He addresses the last two years of Mansfield's life and the rumors about her relationship with Anton LaVey in connection with her accidental death. Celebrities like John Waters , Mamie Van Doren and Tippi Hedren also have their say .


Discography (selection)

Albums :

  • 1961: Jayne Mansfield Busts Up Las Vegas
  • 1964: Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky & Me

Singles :

Web links

Commons : Jayne Mansfield  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Jocelyn Faris - Jayne Mansfield: A Bio-Bibliography , 1994
  2. ^ Margaret Moser - Movie Stars Do the Dumbest Things , 1999
  3. Jocelyn Faris - Jayne Mansfield: A Bio-Bibliography , 1994
  4. Lee Pfeiffer & Dave Worrall - Cinema Sex Sirens , 2011
  5. Michael Feenay Callan - Jayne Mansfield Your Films - Your Life , 1988
  6. [1] time.com, accessed May 12, 2016
  7. Michael Feenay Callan - Jayne Mansfield Your Films - Your Life , 1988
  8. ^ Adam Victor - Marilyn Monroe Encyclopedia, 1999
  9. ^ Roger Ebert - Jayne Mansfield, 1933-1967 The girl couldn't help it, 1967
  10. Solveig Grothe: Wait a minute! Why did Sophia Loren peek into Jayne Mansfield's cleavage? In: one day on Spiegel Online from January 4, 2016, accessed on January 6, 2016.
  11. Reagan, Rooney, Mansfield . Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  12. Jayne Mansfield - Shine and Misery of a Blonde ( Memento of the original from May 12, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on arte.tv. Retrieved May 10, 2016  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.arte.tv
  13. ^ Collectorsweekly.com , accessed March 20, 2016.
  14. www.tv.com , accessed on October 13, 2016
  15. Silverscreen to Vegas
  16. ^ Berlinale Archive
  17. Michael Feenay Callan - Jayne Mansfield Your Films - Your Life , 1988
  18. Jocelyn Faris - Jayne Mansfield: A Bio-Bibliography, 1994
  19. ^ Brian Roylance, Nicky Page, Derek Taylor (Eds.): The Beatles Anthology. Chronicle Books, San Francisco 2000; as a translation from English: Ullstein, Munich 2000. ISBN 3-550-07132-9 , p. 150.
  20. ^ Frank Ferruccio - Did Success Spoil Jayne Mansfield ?: Her Life in Pictures & Text, 2010
  21. Jayne Mansfield Biography, A&E Television Networks
  22. The Night Jayne Mansfield Died, June 29, 1967 . In: Bob Walker's New Orleans Radio Site . Archived from the original on February 17, 2007. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  23. When stars have an accident , In: Stern , accessed September 5, 2016.
  24. Wolf Vostell, Jayne Mansfield , 1968, Neues Museum Nürnberg , accessed on July 21, 2018.
  25. The Jayne Mansfield Story in the Internet Movie Database (English)
  26. reprobatepress.com