Born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Jayne Mansfield became a sexpot of Hollywood and Italian-produced films of the 1950s and 1960s. Married at 16 to high school sweetheart Paul Mansfield and becoming a mother at 17, she started out as a physics major but then switched to drama at the University of Texas and later at UCLA. After she and her husband parted company, Mansfield made the rounds in Hollywood, trying out for bit parts and modeling assignments. Mansfield used her exceptional I.Q. (reportedly 163) to break into movies via a series of incredible publicity stunts, becoming a household name before ever appearing in a film. After bleaching her hair, she did some television work before making her screen debut in the low-budget film noir vehicle Female Jungle (1954; with John Carradine and Lawrence Tierney). The following year she signed with Warner Bros. and was cast in a small role in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955; with Jack Webb, Martin Milner, and Peggy Lee). However, the studio dropped her contract soon afterward.

Jayne MansfieldJayne Mansfield and a Lincoln PremierJayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren

LEFT and CENTER: Mid to late 1950s cheesecake shots. RIGHT: With Sophia Loren

Ironically, Mansfield's big break came by way of the Broadway stage, where she starred in the smash Broadway hit, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? The success of the play landed her a seven-year 20th Century-Fox contract and a starring role in The Girl Can't Help It (1956) opposite Tom Ewell, who had starred with Marilyn Monroe in 1955's The Seven-Year Itch. Following the box-office success of The Girl Can't Help It, Mansfield made the film version of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? with Tony Randall and Mickey Hargitay, whom she married in January 1958.

Mickey Hargitay and Jayne MansfieldMickey Hargitay and Jayne MansfieldMickey Hargitay and Jayne MansfieldMickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield

LEFT: Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield in Europe in the late 1950s. CENTER A: Mickey Hargitay with Jayne Mansfield and her daughter, Jayne Marie, in 1958. CENTER B: Photo from their late 1950s nightclub act. RIGHT: Around the time of their 1958 marriage

During their six-year marriage, Mansfield and Hargitay made several films together, including The Loves of Hercules (1960); Promises! Promises! (1963); and Primitive Love (1964). After four films and three children (Miklos, Zoltan, and Mariska), they divorced in August 1964.

the films of jayne mansfield

The Girl Can't Help It (1956)

Jayne MansfieldJayne Mansfield

Mansfield's first starring role came in the 20th Century Fox release The Girl Can't Help It

The Burglar (1957)

Jayne Mansfield and Dan Duryea

From Columbia's excellent film noir entry The Burglar with Dan Duryea

The Wayward Bus (1957)

Jayne Mansfield and Dan DaileyJoan Collins and Jayne Mansfield

LEFT: With Dan Dailey in a scene from the Fox film The Wayward Bus. RIGHT: With co-star Joan Collins

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

Tony Randall, Jayne Mansfield, and Joan Blondell

With Tony Randall and Joan Blondell in the Fox comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958)

Kenneth More and Jayne Mansfield

With Kenneth More in the 20th Century-Fox western comedy The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw

The George Raft Story (1961)

Ray Danton and Jayne MansfieldJayne Mansfield, Ray Danton, and Frank Gorshin

From the Allied Artists release The George Raft Story. LEFT: With Ray Danton. RIGHT: With Ray Danton and Frank Gorshin

Follow the Sun (1961-1962 ABC TV Series)

Barry Coe and Jayne Mansfield

Mansfield guest-starred in a February 1962 episode of the ABC series Follow the Sun titled The Dumbest Blonde. Also pictured is series star Barry Coe

Panic Button (1964)

Mike Connors and Jayne Mansfield

With Mike Connors in the comedy Panic Button. Shot in Italy during the summer of 1962, this film was released two years later

The Fat Spy (1965)

Brian Donlevy and Jayne Mansfield

From the low-budget comedy The Fat Spy with Brian Donlevy

Single Room Furnished (1968)

Jayne Mansfield

Still from the drama Single Room Furnished, Mansfield's last film

later years

By the dawn of the 1960s, Mansfield was making many low-budget films, including The Loves of Hercules, Promises! Promises!, and Panic Button. After her 1964 divorce from Mickey Hargitay, Mansfield married director Matt Cimber, who took over as her manager during their brief marriage. The couple had a son, Anthony, born in October 1965, and Cimber directed Mansfield's last film, Single Room Furnished (filmed in 1966; released in 1968). Mansfield and Cimber parted company soon after production on the film wrapped. With the downward turn in her film career, Mansfield kept busy with her successful Vegas act, nightclub performances, and television guest shots.

Following an evening performance at Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi, Mansfield had scheduled an early morning television interview in New Orleans. While enroute to the interview, in the early hours of June 29, 1967, Mansfield, her 20-year-old driver Ronnie Harrison, and her boyfriend, Sam Brody, were killed when the 1966 Buick Electra in which they were riding plowed into the back of a large truck. Three of her children were in the backseat but escaped with minor injuries. She was survived by her five children and her mother. Despite the downturn in her career in the 1960s, she left an estate to her children valued at $2 million, which was a considerable sum at the time of her death. Mansfield's daughter, Mariska Hargitay, is a well-known actress who has made dozens of TV and film appearances. Sadly, in November 2002 Mansfield's famed "Pink Palace" residence was leveled, along with two surrounding houses, in order to make way for a new mansion.

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The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968) with Mickey Hargitay
Single Room Furnished (1968) with Bruno VeSota
Mondo Hollywood (1967) with Jay Sebring and Frank Zappa
Spree (1967) with Mickey Hargitay, Vic Damone, and Juliet Prowse
A Guide for the Married Man (1967) with Walter Matthau, Inger Stevens, and Sue Ane Langdon
Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966) with Mamie Van Doren and Ferlin Husky
The Fat Spy (1965) with Phyllis Diller, Brian Donlevy, and Jack E. Leonard
Primitive Love (1964) with Mickey Hargitay and Franco and Ciccio
Dog Eat Dog (1964) with Cameron Mitchell
Panic Button (1964) with Maurice Chevalier, Eleanor Parker, and Mike Connors
Homesick for St. Pauli (1963)
Promises, Promises! (1963) with Mickey Hargitay, Tommy Noonan, and Marie McDonald
It Happened in Athens (1962) with Bob Mathias and Roger Browne
The George Raft Story (1961) with Ray Danton, Julie London, and Barbara Nichols
Monte Carlo (1961) with John Ericson and Richard Anderson
The Loves of Hercules (1960) with Mickey Hargitay
It Takes a Thief (1960) with Anthony Quayle
Too Hot to Handle (1959) with Christopher Lee
The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) with Kenneth More, Henry Hull, William Campbell, Bruce Cabot, and Robert Morley
Kiss Them for Me (1957) with Cary Grant, Suzy Parker, Leif Erickson, Ray Walston, Larry Blyden, Werner Klemperer, and Jack Mullaney
The Wayward Bus (1957) with Joan Collins and Dan Dailey
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) with Tony Randall, Mickey Hargitay, Betsy Drake, Joan Blondell, John Williams, and Henry Jones
The Burglar (1957) with Dan Duryea, Martha Vickers, and Mickey Shaughnessy
Female Jungle (1956) with John Carradine and Bruno VeSota
The Girl Can't Help It (1956) with Tom Ewell, Julie London, Little Richard, and Eddie Cochran
Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) with Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, Joanne Dru, William Demarest, and Fay Wray
Illegal (1955) with Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, and Albert Dekker
Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) with Peggy Lee, Jack Webb, and Martin Milner

The Match Game, July 1964 (daytime; five appearances)
Burke's Law, episode Who Killed Molly?, originally aired March 27, 1964
The Red Skelton Show, episode Advice to the Loveworn, originally aired February 19, 1963
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, episode Hangover, originally aired December 6, 1962
Follow the Sun, episode The Dumbest Blonde, originally aired February 4, 1962
The Red Skelton Show, episode Will Success Spoil Clem Kadiddlehopper?, originally aired September 26, 1961
Kraft Mystery Theater, episode The House of Rue Riviera, originally aired August 30, 1961
The Red Skelton Show, episode Clem's General Store, originally aired October 6, 1959
This Is Your Life, originally aired December 18, 1960
Shower of Stars, episode Star Time, originally aired January 10, 1957
The Jack Benny Program, episode Talent Show, originally aired December 30, 1956

jayne mansfield links

The Official Jayne Mansfield Web Site
This site is the last word on Jayne Mansfield and contains a lengthy biography, many photos, and more.

The Jayne Mansfield Online Fan Club
This is a great site with tons of rare and original photos of Jayne Mansfield. Also, there's a comprehensive listing of links.

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Watch Jayne Mansfield's 1966 comedy The Fat Spy
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