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Cenotaph for Jayne Mansfield.
Jayne Mansfield (Cenotaph)
19th.April 1933 - 29th.June 1967.
Located by the lake section 8.
Cause of Death - Car Accident.
Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer April 19, 1933 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania; died June 29, 1967 in New Orleans, Louisiana) was an American actress and sex symbol. Famed for her platinum-blond hair and hourglass figure, she emerged during the 1950s appetite for glamorous sex symbols led by Marilyn Monroe. In her first few starring roles, Mansfield was courted by 20th Century Fox as a replacement for a then-misbehaving Monroe. However, her Hollywood film career proved fleeting; after playing key roles in just a handful of major Hollywood productions she drifted into independently produced low-budget melodramas and comedy films, many of which were filmed in Europe, and nightclub tours.
She was the only child of Herbert William Palmer and Vera Jeffrey Palmer. Most of her grandparents and great-grandparents were immigrants from England, while her paternal great-grandmother was of German ancestry. When Jayne was three years old, her father, a lawyer, died of a heart attack. After his death, her mother worked as a school teacher to support them. In 1939, Her mother married Harry Lawrence Peers, and the family moved to Dallas, Texas. Jayne could play the violin by the time she was seven, and would stand in the driveway playing for passersby. Jayne attended Highland Park High School. Then she moved to Austin with her first husband. She studied drama and physics at Southern Methodist University, and the University of Texas at Austin. In Dallas, she met Baruch Lumet, father of director Sidney Lumet, who decided to help her and took her under his wing. She took acting classes with him as he was founding his Dallas Institute of the Performing Arts. On October 22, 1953, she appeared on stage in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman." While at Texas, she won several beauty contests: "Miss Photoflash," "Miss Magnesium Lamp" and "Miss Fire Prevention Week." The one title she turned down was "Miss Roquefort Cheese," because it "just didn't sound right." In 1954, she and her husband moved to Los Angeles and she studied drama at UCLA.
Mansfield wanted to be a movie star, and was willing to do practically anything for publicity. She was rumored to have gotten her first TV job by slipping a note to the producer that read: "36, 22, 35."
Her movie career began with bit parts. She had a small role in Female Jungle (1954). She then appeared in Pete Kelly's Blues starring Jack Webb. In January 1955, she garnered more attention by pulling a publicity stunt while promoting Howard Hughes' RKO movie Underwater! starring Jane Russell. In February 1955, Mansfield was the Playmate of the Month in Playboy, for which she would pose several more times over the ensuing years. After two more movies at Warner Bros., one of which gave her a featured role as a hitman's mistress opposite Edward G. Robinson in the hit film Illegal (1955), she went to New York and appeared in the Broadway production of George Axelrod's comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1955). Wearing only a towel, she flaunted as much of her charms as she could. She received the Theatre World Award of 1956 for her performance. After the theatre run she returned to Hollywood and made several television appearances including several spots as a featured star on game shows. Later in 1955 Paul Wendkos offered her the dramatic role of Gladden in his film adaptation of David Goodis' novel The Burglar. The film was done in Film noir style and Mansfield appeared in the film alongside Dan Duryea and Martha Vickers. The film was released two years later when her fame was at its peak. She was successful in this straight dramatic role, however most of her subsequent film appearances would be more based in comedy or focused on her sex appeal.
Mansfield then starred in Frank Tashlin's The Girl Can't Help It (1956). On May 3, 1956, she signed a long-term contract with 20th Century Fox. She then played a straight dramatic role (albeit as a stripper) in The Wayward Bus (1957). With her role in this film she attempted to move away from her highly publicised dumb blonde image and establish herself as a serious actress. This film was adapted from John Steinbeck's novel and included Dan Dailey and Joan Collins in its cast. The role provided a change of pace from Mansfield's already stereotyped persona and enjoyed reasonable success at the box office. She then reprised her role of Rita Marlowe in the 1957 movie version of Rock Hunter co-starring Tony Randall and Joan Blondell.
The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter were critically acclaimed and popular successes in their day and are largely considered classics today. Mansfield's fourth starring role in a Hollywood film was Kiss Them for Me (1957) where she received prominent billing and ostensibly co-starred with Cary Grant. However in the film itself she is little more than comedy relief while Grant's character shows a preference for a sleek and demure redhead portrayed by Suzy Parker. Kiss Them for Me failed at the box office, though not to the degree that has been reported. She had been persuaded to appear in the film, against the advice of others, by Fox's promise that if she appeared in the film they would allow her to star in her fantasy project The Jean Harlow Story - an empty promise designed solely to mollify her.
In October 1957, Mansfield went on a 16-country tour of Europe for 20th Century Fox. She received much attention at the Cannes Film Festival, and was presented to Queen Elizabeth on November 4. "You are so beautiful," she said to the Queen, who replied, "So are you."
Mansfield won a Golden Globe in 1957 for Most Promising Newcomer - Female, with Carroll Baker and Natalie Wood. Although her flamboyant persona - highlighted by a squeaky voice and impossibly-voluptuous figure - and limited range made her tough to cast, she was widely considered Marilyn Monroe's number one rival in a crowded field of contenders that included Mamie Van Doren, Cleo Moore, Diana Dors, and Sheree North. Even as her career drifted into low-budget movie comedies and melodramas, she remained highly visible and won a Golden Laurel in 1959 for Top Female Musical Performance for her role in UK-produced Western The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw, a western spoof directed by Raoul Walsh (1958).
Mansfield headlined in Las Vegas, toured with Bob Hope for the USO and released Jayne Mansfield Busts Up Las Vegas. She did a number of spots television programs including The Jack Benny Show (where she played the violin), The Steve Allen Show, Down You Go and The Match Game. Television acting roles included appearances in Burke's Law and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.
Despite her monumental publicity, good roles dried up for Mansfield after 1957. Her 'legitimate' movie career was essentially over, even though it would be several years before she realized it. Mansfield nevertheless kept busy in series of low-budget films mostly filmed in the UK and Europe, several of which were mainly designed to show off as much of her anatomy as possible, but providing little display of her comedic talent as an actress. In 1960, Fox loaned her out to do two independent gangster thrillers in England. Too Hot to Handle, directed by Terence Young where she co-starred with Karlheinz Böhm, and The Challenge opposite Anthony Quayle. Around this time, Fox lined up another film for Mansfield, It Happened in Athens (1962). Dispite receiving top billing, Mansfield's character is a supporting one. The film was not a box-office success. She turned down the role of Ginger Grant in the sitcom Gilligan's Island because "I am a movie star."
Jayne and Mickey headlined at the Dunes in Las Vegas in an act called The House of Love. The act proved such a hit that she extended her stay and 20th Century Fox Records subsequently released the show as an album, Jayne Mansfield busts up Las Vegas, in 1962. If the studios held her in low regard as an actress, she was however a high-paid performer. The times were changing, and Mansfield decided to drop her inventive publicity agent Jim Byron and Hollywood contact Bill Schiffrin in order to carve out a more sophisticated image. The new Jayne announced she wanted to study acting in New York, as Marilyn had done. But her reliance on racy publicity which had set her path to fame would also prove to be her downfall. She was simply unable to make the distinction between private and public life, even after it hurt her career. To nobody's surprise, Fox didn't renew their contract with her in 1962. None of the films she had made in the previous four years had been successful. Marilyn Monroe's death the same year placed her under pressure as a possible successor.
In 1963, Tommy Noonan - a comic actor turned producer/screenwriter who had appeared in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and A Star is Born, persuaded her to bare it all in Promises, Promises. The nude photographs of Mansfield on the set were published in Playboy. She was the first American mainstream actress to appear naked in a film. In one notorious set of photographs, Jayne stares at her breast, as does her male secretary and a hair stylist, then grasps it in her hand and lifts it high. The issue sold out and resulted in Hugh Hefner being faced with an obscenity charge, later dropped. The film was banned in Cleveland, but enjoyed box office success in Los Angeles and some other cities. Jayne was voted one of the Top 10 Box Office Attractions by theater owners that same year. Later that year, she was cited for indecent exposure while performing her nightclub act in Burlington, Vermont. Despite the publicity, by the mid-1960s her career was all but over. In 1963 she appeared in the German language film Heimweh nach St. Pauli (Homesick for St. Pauli) starring beside the Austrian born schlager singer Freddy Quinn. Mansfield played the part of Evelyne, a sexy American singer / actress who travels to Hamburg by ship being followed by a successful American pop singer and sex-symbol Jimmy Jones (Freddy Quinn) who is really a German who is homesick for home and his mother. Mansfield sings two German songs in the film, though her speaking voice is dubbed.
One critic summed up her 1960s filmography as "one of the most consistently awful in cinema history". The decision to do nude scenes in a film had ruined any chance of her return to "A" caliber Hollywood productions. "Once you were a starlet. Then you're a star. Can you be a starlet again?" she asked. In 1963 Mansfield released her now cult record Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky and Me in which she reads classical poetry (Shakespeare's sonnets, but also poems by Marlowe, Browning, Wordsworth among others) with a background of Tchaikovsky's music. When her marriage to Hargitay (who protested her appearance in Playboy although he co-starred with her in Promises, Promises) broke up, she married Cimber, who directed her in a stage production of Bus Stop in Yonkers, New York. Cimber took over managing her career during their marriage. In 1967, her time was split between a Southern nightclub tour and the production of Single Room, Furnished, directed by Cimber. She split from Cimber and work on Single Room, Furnished was suspended. Mansfield continued her nightclub tour and started dating her divorce lawyer, Sam Brody, who was working to challenge Cimber's demand for full custody of his and Mansfield's child.
After an engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi, Mansfield, Brody, and their driver, Ronnie Harrison, along with Mickey Jr., Zoltan, and Mariska, headed in Gus Stevens' 1966 Buick Electra 225 to New Orleans, where she was to appear in a TV interview. On June 29 at approximately 2:25 a.m. on U.S. Highway 90, the car crashed into a tractor trailer truck that had slowed down because of a truck spraying mosquito fogger. The children survived with minor injuries, but the adults were killed instantly. Mariska has a scar on her head from the accident, but has no memory of what happened. Rumors that Mansfield was decapitated have been proven untrue, though she did suffer severe head trauma. This urban legend was possibly spawned by the appearance of what resembles a blonde wig tangled in the car's smashed wind sheild in police photographs of the wreck. It is believed that this was either a wig that Mansfield was wearing at the time, or was her actual hair and scalp and that she was scalped in the crash. The car in which she died was returned to its owner, Gus Stevens, who eventually sold it. It was in a museum in Florida for several years but now is kept by a fan in North Carolina. Her funeral was held on July 3, 1967, in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, officiated by a Methodist minister. She is interred in Fairview Cemetery, just southeast of Pen Argyl. A memorial cenotaph, is in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Hollywood, California, in her honor. Shortly after the funeral, Hargitay sued her estate for over $275,000 to support the children. He married his next and last wife that September. Mansfield has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Mansfield was married three times:
Paul Mansfield (May 10, 1950 - 1958), with whom she had Jayne-Marie (November 8, 1950);
Mickey Hargitay (January 13, 1958 - 1964), with whom she had Miklós Jeffrey (December 21, 1958), Zoltan Anthony (August 1, 1960), & Mariska Magdolina (January 24, 1964).
Matt Cimber (September 24, 1964 - 1966), with whom she had Antonio Raphael Ottaviano (October 18, 1965).
One biographer quotes Jayne as saying that Paul was not Jayne-Marie's father, but she married him because she was opposed to abortion. The Brazilan singer Nelson Sardelli, who had a well-publicized affair with Manfield in 1963, during and after her disputed Mexican divorce from Hargitay, has been cited as a possible biological father of Mariska. (The Mexican divorce was upheld in August 1964.)
Jayne and Hargitay bought a 40-room Mediterranean-style mansion formerly owned by Rudy Vallee at 10100 Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, which they called the "Pink Palace." As its name implies, the mansion was all pink, with cupids surrounded by pink fluorescent lights, pink furs in the bathrooms, a pink heart-shaped bathtub, and a fountain spurting pink champagne. Hargitay, who was a plumber and carpenter before he got into bodybuilding, built its famous pink heart-shaped swimming pool. Engelbert Humperdinck bought the Pink Palace in the 1970s. In 2002, he sold it to developers and it was torn down in November of that year.