Jayne Mansfield

April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967

Ah, the Hollywood machine of the 1950s and ’60s. The golden age of studio-driven film making. Every studio had its own stable of actors, directors and writers. There were film crews on every backlot and a blonde bombshell on every corner. With the rise in popularity of quintessential bombshell, Marylin Monroe, 20th Century Fox hedged their bets…and got themselves a second one.

Vera Jayne Palmer, known professionally as Jayne Mansfield, was more than just “the working man’s Monroe,” however. She cut her teeth on the community theater stage and paid her dues in the pageant and low-budget film world. Eventually, she embraced her inner-bombshell and dyed her brunette hair platinum. A 1955 appearance in the new magazine, Playboy, helped get her noticed and soon, Warner Bros. offered her a contract. More bit film roles led to Broadway where Mansfield appeared opposite Walter Matthau in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? For her role as Rita Marlowe, Jayne earned a Theatre World Award. She signed with 20th Century Fox and went on to make several box office successes back in Hollywood including The Girl Can’t Help It and the film version of Rock Hunter, where she reprised the role of Rita.

While she was pretty successful on stage and screen, it was Mansfield’s personal life that garnered the most attention. She was married three times, but romantically linked to both John and Bobby Kennedy as well as a number of other powerful men in the entertainment industry. She was widely known for pulling publicity stunts and staging “wardrobe accidents” and became a media and tabloid sensation. Her film career declined almost as quickly as it rose, but she continued to work on television and in nightclub acts. It was on a nightclub tour in June 1967, in the middle of the night, when Mansfield, her boyfriend/lawyer and their driver were all three killed instantly when their car slammed into the back of a stopped tractor-trailer in dense pesticide fog outside of New Orleans. Three of Mansfield’s children, including future-actor, Mariska Hargitay, were sleeping in the back seat and survived the crash.

Though the law had been on the books for more than a decade at the time of the crash, Mansfield’s death helped raise awareness and enforcement of the use of ICC bars on the back of tractor-trailer trucks to keep cars from sliding under them during collisions. Jayne Mansfield was just 34 at the time of her death.

Burial

Fairview Cemetery – Pen Argyl, PA

Specific Location

Enter the cemetery and look into the large central section. Jayne’s tall white heart-shaped monument stands out fairly easily among the other markers.

Jayne also has a cenotaph memorial at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles.

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