Het is al 55 jaar geleden dat Jayne Mansfield werd onthoofd in een auto-ongeval, waarin ook haar manager Sam Brodie omkwam. Brodie was door Anton LaVey, de stichter van de Satanskerk, vervloekt, omdat hij het niet kon verdragen dat Jayne verliefd op hem was. Vóór haar had trouwens Marilyn Monroe ook al een verhouding gehad met de duivelsdienaar, die als adviseur bij horrorfilms fungeerde in Hollywood. Toen LaVey haar (en Sammy Davis jr) “zo maar” de status van hogepriesteres toebedeelde, scheurden een gedeelte van de “gelovigen” zich af.
Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer was one of the early Playboy Playmates. She was 20th Century Fox’s alternative Marilyn Monroe and came to be known as the “Working Man’s Monroe”. She was also known for her well-publicized personal life and publicity stunts.
Mansfield became a major Broadway star in 1955, a major Hollywood star in 1956, and a leading celebrity in 1957. In April 1957, her breasts were the focus of a notorious publicity stunt intended to deflect media attention from Sophia Loren during a dinner party in the Italian star’s honor. Photographs of the encounter were published around the world, including many years later by Wikipedia.
The best-known photo showed Loren’s gaze falling on the cleavage of the American actress (who was seated between Loren and her dinner companion, Clifton Webb) when Mansfield leaned over the table, allowing her breasts to spill over her low neckline and exposing one nipple. The Jayne Mansfield-Sophia Loren photo inspired a number of later photographers. The photograph of that episode was a UPI sensation, appearing in newspapers and magazines with the word “censored” hiding the actress’s exposed bosom. Op 11 oktober 1957 interviewde Wim Sonneveld haar voor het Nederlandse televisieprogramma Mensen, dingen en nu.
Jayne Mansfield was one of Hollywood’s original blonde bombshells, and although many people (including myself) have never seen her movies, Mansfield remains one of the most recognizable icons of 1950s celebrity culture. With the decrease of the demand for big-breasted blonde bombshells and the increase the negative backlash against her over-publicity, she became a box-office has-been by the end of 1960s. Her career declined first to low-budget foreign movies and finally ended in minor nightclub dates.
While Mansfield’s film career was short-lived, she had several box office successes and won a Theatre World Award and a Golden Globe. She enjoyed success in the role of fictional actress Rita Marlowe in both the 1955–1956 Broadway version, and, in the 1957 Hollywood film version of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. She showcased her comedic skills in The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), her dramatic assets in The Wayward Bus (1957), and her sizzling presence in Too Hot to Handle (1960). She also sang for studio recordings, including the album Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky & Me and the singles Suey and As the Clouds Drift by (with Jimi Hendrix). In the sexploitation film Promises! Promises! (1963), she became the first major American actress to have a nude starring role in a Hollywood motion picture (below).
Mansfield was married three times, first to her “high-school” sweetheart public relations professional Paul Mansfield (1950–1958), second to actor–bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay (1958–1963), and third to film director Matt Cimber (1964–1966). She had five children.
Ronny De Schepper