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Overview for Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield

Jayne Mansfield


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Also Known As: Vera Jane Palmer Died: June 29, 1967
Born: April 19, 1933 Cause of Death: car accident
Birth Place: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA Profession: Cast ... actor artist's model movie usherette


val at Mansfieldâ¿¿s unavoidable breasts, literally bursting out of her low cut dress. Similar later incidents, some of which exposed even more of the busty sex symbol, became so prevalent that a backlash of negative public perception soon followed. A casualty of the precarious nature of her career and accompanying lifestyle hit home when her divorce from Paul Mansfield became official in early 1958. Within months she married Mickey Hargitay, a body builder, former Mr. Universe, and aspiring actor. A secret to no one, Hargitay and Mansfield had been involved in a passionate romance ever since they first met during her time in the Broadway production of "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter" nearly three years earlier.

Hesitant to put her in a more high-profile project, Fox placed Mansfield alongside Kenneth More in the low-budget comedy-Western "The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw" (1958), helmed by veteran director Raoul Walsh. Filmed in Italy â¿¿ one of the first Westerns to do so â¿¿ the little seen film would not be released in the U.S. for another year. Offscreen the platinum-haired star continued to garner more press for her outlandish lifestyle, as in the case of her lavishly appointed and eponymously painted Hollywood mansion "The Pink Palace." At a loss as to what to do with their once hot property, Fox next lent Mansfield out for a series of films shot in Europe, beginning with a pair of independently produced British crime thrillers: "The Challenge" (1960), starring Anthony Quayle, and "Too Hot to Handle" (1960), featuring Hammer horror mainstay, Christopher Lee. From there it was off to Italy for the sword and sandal fantasy "The Loves of Hercules" (1961), starring Hargitay as the titular strongman. Mansfield next gratefully accepted a job back in Hollywood with a supporting role in the biopic "The George Raft Story" (1961).

Much to her displeasure, Mansfield would soon return to Italy to film "It Happened in Athens" (1962), an Olympics-themed comedy in which she received top-billing, despite only appearing in a supporting role. When the picture flopped at the box office, Fox declined to renew her six-year contract, which had just come to an end. After a string of low budget European productions, Mansfield made her biggest headlines in years when she agreed to appear in the nude in the independent feature "Promises! Promises!" (1963), starring Tommy Noonan. When leaked photos from the set appeared in Playboy, Mansfield was once again responsible for boosting the magazineâ¿¿s sales and generating much needed publicity for herself. It also landed Hefner in hot water with the city of Chicago, which filed obscenity charges against the publisher as a result of the pictorial. Although the movie was banned in Cleveland, it did enjoy considerable success around the country, so much so that Mansfield made the list of Top 10 Box Office Attractions compiled by an American theater owners association that same year.

Unfortunately, Mansfieldâ¿¿s personal life had fallen into a state of chaos and uncertainty that rivaled her struggling film career. During their turbulent time as husband and wife, she and Hargitay had three children. The youngest, Mariska, was born after the coupleâ¿¿s acrimonious divorce in Juarez, Mexico in 1963, although for the sake of appearances, Mansfield insisted the marriage was still legally valid until after Mariskaâ¿¿s birth in 1964. However, with the birth of her daughter, Mansfield made an about-face, claimed that the Mexican divorce was in fact legally binding, and promptly married director Matt Cimber, who had directed Mansfield â¿¿ and Hargitay â¿¿ in a stage production of "Bus Stop" mere months earlier. For all of the drama of her early years, Mariska Hargitay herself would go on to become a successful actress in her own right, known primarily for her role on the long running series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC, 1999- ).

With her career a mere shadow of its former glory, Mansfield kept herself employed anyway she could, juggling night club appearances with whatever film roles came her way. Two examples of the latter included "The Fat Spy" (1966), a cheap beach party knock-off starring Phyllis Diller, and "The Las Vegas Hillbillys" (1966), which co-starred her blonde bombshell nemesis Mamie Van Doren and was produced by "Z-movie" moguls the Woolner Brothers. She also made a brief cameo appearance in the Walter Matthau comedy "A Guide for the Married Man" (1967), which would constitute her final film performance. Filmed earlier and unfinished at the time of Mansfield⿿s death, was Cimber⿿s film directing debut "Single Room Furnished" (1968), a gritty drama about a young woman⿿s descent from loving wife to emotionally detached prostitute. Ironically, the role later gained a reputation as one of Mansfield⿿s best. She would never live to read any such accolades, however, when she, her boyfriend at the time, attorney Sam Brody, and their driver were killed instantly when the car they were in smashed into the back of a slow-moving truck in June of 1967. On their way to an engagement in New Orleans with their mother, Mariska, Zoltán and Miklós Hartigay were all asleep in the back seat of the vehicle and miraculously survived with minor injuries. Posthumous rumors would abound that the actress was beheaded at the scene based on photos of the crash. What was assumed to be the actress⿿ head resting on the hood of the car was, in fact, one of her wigs. Jayne Mansfield, one of the last of the Hollywood blonde bombshells, was 34 years old.ect when she won a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year in 1957. In the years that followed, it would be widely considered to be one of her best film performances. Mansfield⿿s movie career reached its commercial zenith when she reprised the role of Rita Marlowe in the filmed adaptation of "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" (1957). The comedy co-starred Tony Randall in the title role, but other than Mansfield⿿s character, bore little resemblance to the original stage play. Regardless, it became a substantial hit and earned Randall a Golden Globe nomination. It would later be selected for preservation by the U.S. Library of Congress⿿ National Film Registry.

Another impressive dramatic performance by Mansfield came with the release of the little-seen "The Burglar" (1957). Actually filmed in 1955, just prior to her stint on Broadway, the highly-stylized film noir was based on a novel by pulp author David Goodis â¿¿ who also wrote the screenplay â¿¿ and co-starred noir veteran Dan Duryea. A low-budget effort, it was only released after Mansfield had become a major star. Attempting to recoup their investment in their new starlet â¿¿ but seemingly unsure of how to best utilize her â¿¿ Fox next gave her top billing alongside screen idol Cary Grant in the romantic comedy "Kiss Them for Me" (1957). Despite her high placement in the credits, Mansfield was little more than voluptuous window dressing in the film about four combat fatigued pilots looking for fun and frolic while on shore leave in San Francisco. Unfortunately, the movie was critically panned, performed dismally at the box-office, and would become her last mainstream Hollywood motion picture. After the failure of "Kiss Them for Me" â¿¿ and their coming to terms with Monroe â¿¿ Fox dialed back attempts to place her in major films, and began loaning out Mansfieldâ¿¿s talents to smaller studios, at home and in Europe.

Regardless of the fact that her recent film had sunk unceremoniously at theaters, Mansfield kept her personal publicity machine at full throttle with almost weekly mentions in the press and shameless publicity stunts that became the stuff of Hollywood legend. One notorious incident came in 1957, when she attempted to upstage cinema beauty Sophia Loren while attending an event being held in the Italian starâ¿¿s honor. In photographs printed in newspapers all around the world in the days that followed, Loren could be seen gazing with obvious disappro

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