Jayne Mansfield: A Remarkable Yet Tragic Life Cut Too Short

Herbie J Pilato


[This article is based on entertainment postings and accredited media reports attributed to IMDB.com, Biography.com, and AllThatsInteresting.com.]

She rivaled Marilyn Monroe as one of Hollywood's most legendary glamourous stars.

Her name is Jayne Mansfield, the actress who died at only 34 years of age in a car accident in 1967.

But according to AllThatsInteresting.com, it is "falsely believed" that Mansfield was beheaded in that unfortunate incident, though "the truth is even grislier — and much sadder."

As further detailed on AllThatsInteresting, "On June 29, 1967, around 2 AM, a car carrying Jane Mansfield and three of her children, including actress Mariska Hargitay [today a star in her own right], slammed into the back of a semi-truck on a dark Louisiana highway. The impact sheared off the top of Mansfield’s car [a Buick Electra], instantly killing the three adults in the front seat. Miraculously, the sleeping children in the back seat survived.

"The shocking accident quickly led to gossip involving decapitation and devilish curses that still persists today. However, the truth behind Jayne Mansfield’s death is more gruesome and even sadder than anything the rumor mill could dream up."

AllThatsInteresting continued to explain, how "in the early morning hours of June 29, 1967, Mansfield left Biloxi, Mississippi, driving toward New Orleans. The actress had just performed at a Biloxi nightclub, and she needed to reach New Orleans for a television appearance scheduled for the next day. On the long drive, Mansfield sat in front with a driver, Ronald B. Harrison, and her boyfriend, Samuel S. Brody. Three of her children slept in the backseat. After the Buick Electra crashed into the truck, it slid under the back of the trailer, shearing off the top of the car. Police rushed to the scene to find Mansfield’s three children alive in the backseat. The accident instantly killed the three adults in the front seat and also killed Mansfield’s dog. Police declared the actress dead on the scene."

According to Biography.com, Mansfield was a "provocateur of her time," gaining "fame and pin-up status," resulting from her movies like Kiss Them for Me (1957), The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) and It Takes a Thief (1960). She experienced a career lull in the 1960s, though she did continue to act in small roles on film and stage."

As Biography.com documented, Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Her father Herbert was an attorney and musician while her mother Vera had previously worked as a schoolteacher. Mansfield endured a childhood tragedy at the age of 3 when her father passed away from a heart attack while driving with the family. Reflecting back on the tragedy, Mansfield later said, 'Something went out of my life...my earliest memories are the best. I always try to remember the good times when Daddy was alive." 

As to her Mansfield's later Tinseltown rivalry with Marilyn Monroe, AllThatsInteresting.com noted how Hollywood journalist Lawrence J. Quirk once asked the latter about the former. “All she does is imitate me,” Monroe complained, “but her imitations are an insult to her as well as to myself.”

Monroe added, “I know it’s supposed to be flattering to be imitated, but she does it so grossly, so vulgarly – I wish I had some legal means to sue her.”

While Monroe may not have always adhered to the old adage that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," there is little doubt that Jayne Mansfield had her own unique stamp and sparkle in the history of Hollywood movie-star glitter and gold.

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Herbie J Pilato is the author of several books about pop culture including THE 12 BEST SECRETS OF CHRISTMAS: A TREASURE HOUSE OF DECEMBER MEMORIES REVEALED, MARY: THE MARY TYLER MOORE STORY, TWITCH UPON A STAR, GLAMOUR, GIDGETS AND THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, DASHING, DARING AND DEBONAIR, and NBC & ME: MY LIFE AS A PAGE IN A BOOK, among others. He's also a TV writer/producer, and has worked for Reelz, Bravo, E!, TLC, and hosted THEN AGAIN WITH HERBIE J PILATO, the hit classic TV talk show (which premiered on Amazon Prime in 2019).

Los Angeles, CA

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