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Jayne could play the violin by the time she was seven, and would stand in the driveway of her home playing for passersby.
Jayne Mansfield (April 19, 1933 — June 29, 1967) was an American actress and sex symbol.
She was born Vera Jane Palmer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, the only child of Herbert William Palmer (1904-1936) and Vera Jeffrey Palmer (1903-2000).
It is not clear if her parents, both Palmers, were distant cousins.
The maiden name of Jayne's maternal grandmother was Jeffrey. When Jayne was three years old, her father, a lawyer, suddenly died of a heart attack. After his death, her mother worked as a school teacher to support them.
In 1939, Vera married Harry Lawrence "Tex" Peers (1916-1997), and the family moved to Dallas, Texas.
She also enjoyed singing, and would give enthusiastic performances. After discovering fan magazines, she would cut out the glamorous photographs of movie stars and hang them in her bedroom.
Jayne attended Highland Park High School in Dallas. Then, at seventeen, she married her first husband, Paul Mansfield, and moved to Austin.
She studied dramatics at Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas.
While attending the University of Texas, she won several beauty contests, with titles that included "Miss Photoflash," "Miss Magnesium Lamp" and "Miss Fire Prevention Week." In 1954, they moved to Los Angeles and she studied dramatics at UCLA.
With tunnel vision, Mansfield wanted to be a movie star. She won several more beauty contests.
The only title she ever turned down was "Miss Roquefort Cheese," because she believed that it "just didn't sound right."
For her efforts, she was rewarded with walk-ons on television. She was always willing to make appearances and do practically anything for publicity. She was rumored to have gotten her first TV job by slipping a note to the producer that read "36, 22, 35."
Her movie career began with bit parts. She had a small role in The Female Jungle (1954). She then went to Warner Bros. and did a small role in Pete Kelly's Blues starring Jack Webb, which brought her favorable attention. In January 1955, she was part of a publicity drive for Howard Hughes' RKO movie Underwater! starring Jane Russell.
In February 1955, Mansfield was "Playmate of the Month" in Playboy, a men's magazine she would pose for several times over the ensuing years.
After two more movies at Warners, she went to New York and played screen siren Rita Marlowe in the Broadway production of George Axelrod's comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1955).
Wearing only a towel, she would rise to answer the phone, flaunting as much of her big-breasted, voluptuous physique as she could. She received the Theatre World Award of 1956 for her performance.
Back on the West Coast, she appeared on TV game shows and starred in The Girl Can't Help It (1956).
On May 3, 1956, she signed a long-term contract with 20th Century Fox. After a couple more movies, she reprised her role of Rita Marlowe in the 1957 movie version of Rock Hunter co-starring Tony Randall.
Mansfield won a Golden Globe in 1957 for Most Promising Newcomer — Female, along with Carroll Baker and Natalie Wood.
And she won a Golden Laurel in 1959 for Top Female Musical Performance for the comedy Western The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958), but her squeaky voice, eyepopping figure, and limited range made her tough to cast. Bette Davis's assesment — "Dramatic art, in her opinion is, knowing how to fill a sweater" — was shared by the industry at large.
Worse, she was invariably compared to Marilyn Monroe, and found lacking.
Her marriage to Paul faltered when she began a romance with muscleman and NABBA Mr. Universe of 1955, Mickey Hargitay, who was then in a nightclub act starring Mae West and himself married.
West angrily held a press conference on June 6, 1956, to announce Hargitay's dismissal.
Hargitay, however, showed up early, to quit prior to being fired, and got into a fight with another strong man in the act, who gave Hargitay a black eye. Mansfield and Hargitay were married the same day her divorce became final.
Mansfield had three husbands, Paul Mansfield (married May 10, 1950-divorced 1958); actor and bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay (married January 13, 1958-divorced 1964); and director Matt Cimber (married September 24, 1964-divorced 1966).
She and Paul had one child, Jayne-Marie Mansfield (born November 8, 1950); she and Mickey had three children, Miklуs Jeffrey Hargitay (born December 21, 1958), Zoltan Anthony Hargitay (born August 1, 1960) and Mariska Magdolina Hargitay (born January 24, 1964); and she and Matt had one child, Antonio Raphael Ottaviano Cimber (or Anthony Richard) (born October 18, 1965).
One biographer quotes Jayne as saying that Paul was not Jayne-Marie's father, but that she married him rather than getting an abortion as she was personally opposed to it.
Actor Nelson Sardelli claims to have fathered Mariska. But Hargitay apparently never questioned the girl's paternity and raised her as his own.
Jayne-Marie was a Playboy centerfold in July 1976; and Mariska has become an actress with a list of movie and TV credits that would undoubtedly make her mother proud.
In October 1957, Mansfield went on a sixteen country tour of Europe for 20th Century Fox. She was presented to Queen Elizabeth on November 4. "You are so beautiful," she said to the Queen, who replied, "So are you."
After they married, she and Hargitay bought a 40-room Mediterranean-style mansion formerly owned by Rudy Vallee at 10100 Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills for $75,000, which they called the "Pink Palace."
As its name implies, the mansion was painted pink, had pink decorations, a bed with heart-shaped canopy and marble cupids above the bedstead that was surrounded by pink fluorescent lights, pink fur on the floors of the bathrooms, a pink heart-shaped bathtub, a fountain spurting pink champagne.
Hargitay, who was a plumber and carpenter before he got into bodybuilding, built its famouse pink heart-shaped swimming pool. Engelbert Humperdinck bought the Pink Palace in the 1970s. In 2002, he sold it for about $4,000,000 to developers and it was torn down in November of that year.
Mansfield headlined in Las Vegas with her own nightclub act, toured military bases with Bob Hope for the USO and released a live album titled Jayne Mansfield Busts Up Las Vegas.
She did a number of guest spots on television: The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Jack Benny Show, The Steve Allen Show and Burke's Law, Down You Go and The Match Game.
Despite her monumental publicity, by the mid-1960s her movie career was all but over.
She appeared in low-budget productions, mostly in Europe. She turned down the role of Ginger Grant in the TV sitcom Gilligan's Island because "I am a movie star."
In 1963 she posed nude for Playboy magazine on the set of the movie comedy Promises, Promises.
It was the first time a big-name actress had been so exposed for the camera, as Mansfield cavorted totally bare in front of the film crew, her co-star (Tommy Noonan), and members of her personal staff.
In one notorious series of photographs, Jayne stands naked, staring intently at her breast, as does her male secretary and a hair stylist, then grasps it in her hand and lifts it high.
Some critics said it was the most erotic series of photographs ever published in the magazine. That issue sold out and resulted in publisher Hugh Hefner being faced with an obscenity charge, later dropped.
When her marriage to Hargitay (who protested her appearance in Playboy) broke up, she married Matt Cimber, who had directed her in a stage production of Bus Stop in Yonkers, New York. Cimber took over the management of her career during their brief marriage.
Some allege that she became involved with the International Church Of Satan, founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey, and that she had an affair with LaVey.
The truth apparently is that a meeting between Mansfield and LaVey was arranged as a publicity stunt. According to Jayne's press agent, Ray Strait, "The biggest backfire of a press stunt that she ever pulled."
LaVey was apparently smitten with the actress, who was not interested. Mansfield, who made no secret of her many affairs, denied being intimate with LaVey and no associate of hers ever confirmed any such romance.
In an interview, Mansfield said, "He had fallen in love with me and wanted to join my life with his. It was a laugh."
So, it appears that her involvement with the Church of Satan was no more than another photo-shoot. And LaVey's public claims of an affair with her apparently began only after her death.
In 1967, her life was moving at full speed. Her time was split between a Southern nightclub tour and the production of Single Room, Furnished, a drama directed by Cimber. She died before the movie was completed.
After an engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi, Mansfield, her boyfriend, lawyer Sam Brody, and her driver, Ronnie Harrison, along with Mickey Jr., age eight, Zoltan, age six, and Mariska, age three, headed to New Orleans, where she was to appear on a TV interview later that day.
On June 29 at approximately 4:07 a.m., Mansfield died in a car accident on U.S. Highway 90 near Slidell, Louisiana. She was riding in the front seat of the 1966 Buick Electra with Harrison and Brody, and her children were sleeping in back, as the roadway became obscured by a white haze from a distant mosquito fogger, which prevented Harrison from discerning the presence of a slow-moving tractor-trailer ahead.
They crashed into the truck and slid under it as the top of her car was sheared back. Though all three children survived with minor injuries, as they were cushioned from serious harm, the adults were instantly killed, as was Mansfield's pet Chihuahua.
Erroneously, it was said that Mansfield was decapitated in the accident. This is not true, though she did suffer severe head trauma. This urban legend was possibly spawned by the fact that her blonde wig flew off her head and was seen in police photographs.
Her private funeral service, attended by her family and Hargitay, was held on July 3, 1967 at Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, officiated by a Methodist minister.
She is interred in Fairview Cemetery, just southeast of Pen Argyl. Though her remains are in Fairview Cemetery, and the graves of her mother and stepfather are beside hers, a memorial cenotaph is in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California, in her honor.
Shortly after the funeral, Hargitay sued her estate for over $275,000 to support the children. He married his current wife that September.
Jayne Mansfield has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6328 Hollywood Boulevard.
In an A&E; Network Biography program about Jayne Mansfield, the late Tony Randall, who had worked with her in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? had talked about how friendly and down-to-earth Jayne was.
He said that when tourists would drive by her mansion, she might just pop on out, waving her arms and greeting them. As Randall put it, "She was a hoot!"
The Female Jungle (1955) (American Releasing) ... Candy Price
Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) (Warner Bros.) ... Blonde Woman
Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) (Warner Bros.) ... Cigarette Girl
Illegal (1955) (Warner Bros.) ... Angel O'Hara
The Girl Can't Help It (1956) (20th Century Fox) ... Jerri Jordan
The Wayward Bus (1957) (20th Century Fox) ... Camille Oaks
The Burglar (1957) (Columbia) ... Gladden
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) (20th Century Fox) ... Rita Marlowe
Kiss Them for Me (1957) (20th Century Fox) ... Alice Kratzner
The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) (20th Century Fox) ... Kate
The Challenge (1960) (Valiant Films) ... Billy
The Loves of Hercules (1960) French production ... Queen Dianira/Hippolyta
Too Hot to Handle (1960) (Topaz) ... Midnight Franklin
The George Raft Story (1961) (Allied Artists) ... Lisa Lang
It Happened in Athens (1962) (20th Century Fox) ... Eleni Costa
Homesick for St. Pauli (1963) German production ... Evelyne
Promises! Promises! (1963) (Noonan-Taylor Production) ... Sandy Brooks
Panic Button (1964) (Gorton Associates) ... Angela
Dog Eat Dog (1964) (Ajay Film Company) ... Darlene
Primitive Love (1964) Italian production ... as herself
The Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966) (Woolner Brosthers Pictures) ... Tawny
The Fat Spy (1966) (Magna Pictures Distribution) ... Junior
A Guide for the Married Man (1967) (20th Century Fox) ... Girl with Harold, Technical Adviser
Single Room Furnished (1968) (Crown International Pictures) ... Johnnie/Mae/Eileen
Mondo Hollywood (1967)
The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968)
The Japanese female rock band The 5,6,7,8's wrote a song titled "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield," which is featured in the movie Kill Bill Vol. 1, directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Her death is the subject of the Siouxsie and the Banshees song "Kiss Them for Me", the title of her 1957 film.
She was the first mainstream actress to appear nude in a mainstream American film (Promises! Promises!)
During the late 1950s, the front bumpers of some American cars came with extensions that resembled a pair of the conical brassieres of the period. Soon after their introduction, these extensions were nicknamed "Jayne Mansfields."
"We eat a lot of lean meat and fresh vegetables…. You are what you eat, you know. When I'm 100 I'll still be doing pin-ups."
"I like being a pin-up girl. There's nothing wrong with it."
"A woman should be pink and cuddly for a man."
"I don't want to get involved in the racial situation at the expense of losing fans. I wouldn't say anything too strong but I do know that God created us equal and we're not living up to it."
"A forty-one inch bust and a lot of perseverance will get you more than a cup of coffee-a lot more. But most girls don't know what to do with what they've got."
"It is the most wonderful feeling in the world, you know, knowing you are loved and wanted."
"If you're going to do something wrong, do it big, because the punishment is the same either way."
"Carrying a baby is the most rewarding experience a woman can enjoy."
"I will never be satisfied. Life is one constant search for betterment for me."
"She had no desire to be second at anything, and in striving to be first she learned the value of hard work." -- Raymond Strait, Jayne's press agent
"Jayne Mansfield is making a career of being a girl." -- Walter Winchell, reporter
"I could hold this golden little woman here forever." -- Mickey Hargitay's father, when Jayne and Mickey visited them in Budapest
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