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In Memory of Jayne Mansfield

April 19, 1933 June 29, 1967

This memorial website was created in the memory of Jayne Mansfield, born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania on April 19, 1933 and passed away on June 29, 1967 at 34 years of age.

Biography


Full name: Jayne Mansfield
Born: April 19, 1933
Passed away: June 29, 1967
Age: 34 years of age
Location: U.S. Highway 90 near Slidell, Louisiana, USA
Birthplace: Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, USA

Jayne Mansfield (April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967) was an American actress working both on Broadway and in Hollywood. One of the leading blonde sex symbols of the 1950s, Mansfield was a Playboy Playmate of the Month, and appeared again in January 1956, February 1956, and February 1958. She was the covergirl for Playboy for their February 1957 and June 1963 issues. She won the Theatre World Award, Golden Globe and Golden Laurel. Mansfield starred in several popular Hollywood films that emphasized her platinum-blonde hair, hourglass figure and cleavage-revealing costumes.

While Mansfield's film career was short-lived, she had several box office successes. As the demand for blonde bombshells declined in the 1960s, Mansfield was relegated to low-budget melodramas and comedies, but remained a popular celebrity. In her later career she continued to attract large crowds in foreign countries, and in lucrative and successful nightclub tours. Mansfield died in an automobile accident at the age of 34.

Mansfield, of German and English ancestry, was the only child of Herbert William and Vera (née Jeffrey) Palmer. Her birthname was Vera Jayne Palmer. A natural brunette, she was born in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, but spent her early childhood in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. In 1950, Vera Jayne Palmer married Paul Mansfield, thus becoming Jayne Mansfield, and the couple moved to Austin, Texas. She studied dramatics at Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas at Austin. 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." The only title she ever turned down was "Miss Roquefort Cheese," because she believed that it "just didn't sound right."

On October 22, 1953, she first appeared on stage in a production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman. Frequent references have been made to Mansfield's very high IQ, which she advertised as 163. She spoke five languages, and was a classically trained pianist and violinist. Mansfield admitted her public didn't care about her brains. "They're more interested in 40-21-35," she said.

In 1963, Tommy Noonan persuaded Mansfield to become the first mainstream American actress to appear nude with a starring role in the film Promises! Promises!. Photographs of a naked Mansfield on the set were published in Playboy. In one notorious set of images, Mansfield stares at one of her breasts, as does her male secretary and a hair stylist, then grasps it in one hand and lifts it high. The sold-out issue resulted in an obscenity charge for Hugh Hefner. Hugh was arrested in Chicago by police after his Playboy magazine published a pictorial entitled, 'The Nudist Jayne Mansfield'. The trial resulted in a hung jury that voted 7-5 for acquittal.

Promises! Promises! was banned in Cleveland, but it enjoyed box office success elsewhere. As a result of the film's success, Mansfield landed on the Top 10 list of Box Office Attractions for that year. The autobiographical book, Jayne Mansfield's Wild, Wild World, she wrote together with Mickey Hargitay, was published right after Promises! Promises! and contains 32 pages of black-and-white photographs from the film printed on glossy paper. By 1962 Mansfield still commanded high prices as a live performer, though she openly yearned to establish a more sophisticated image. She announced that she wanted to study acting in New York, in apparent emulation of Marilyn Monroe's stint with the Actors' Studio. But her reliance on the racy publicity that had set her path to fame would also prove to be her downfall. Fox did not renew its contract with her in 1962.
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