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Jayne Mansfield posters

Birthday

April 19, 1933

Birth Sign

Aries

Height

5' 6ΒΌ" (1.68 m)

About

One of the leading sex symbols of the 1950s and 1960s, film actress Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Vera J. and Herbert W. Palmer. Her parents were well-to-do, with her father a successful attorney in Phillipburg, New Jersey, where Jayne began her girlhood. Her parents were both born with the same surname, and her ancestry was seven eighths British Isles (English and Cornish) and one eighth German. Jayne was a talented pianist and violin player as a child.Tragedy struck when Jayne was three, when her father suddenly died of a heart attack. Three years later, her mother remarried and the family moved south to Dallas, Texas. The family bought a little home where she had violin concerts in the driveway of their home. Up until the move, Jayne had no aspirations of being a star, but with maturity and the fact that she devoured the fan magazines of the day convinced her to try acting.Amazingly, her I.Q. was reported to be a 163, and she attended the University of Dallas and participated in little-theatre productions. read more

In 1949, at age sixteen, she married a man five years her senior named Paul Mansfield, the next year when Jayne was seventeen. Their daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield, was born in November.After some productions there and elsewhere, Jayne decided to go to Hollywood. Her first film was a bit role as a cigarette girl in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). Although the roles in the beginning were not much, she was successful in gaining those roles because of her ample physical attributes which placed her in two other films that year, Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) and Illegal (1955). Her breakout role came the next year with a featured part in The Burglar (1957). By the time she portrayed Rita Marlowe in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) and Playgirl After Dark (1960), Jayne was now known as the poor man's Marilyn Monroe. She did not get the plum roles that Marilyn got in her productions. Instead, Jayne's films were more of a showcase for her body more than anything else. Jayne did have a real talent for acting, but the movie executives insisted she stay in her dumb blonde stereotype roles. For the balance of her career, Jayne never received any standout performances although she was more than capable of doing them.By the 1960s, Mansfield's career had options that grew lower. She made somewhat embarrassing guest appearances like on the popular game show What's My Line? (1950), she appeared on the show four times in 1956, 1957, 1964, and 1966 and many other 1950s and 1960s game shows. By 1962, she was dropped from 20th Century Fox and the rest of her career had smaller options like being in B movies and low budget movies or performing at food stores or small nightclubs.While traveling from a nightclub in Biloxi, Mississippi and 30 miles from New Orleans to where she was to be on television the following day, she was killed instantly on Highway 90 in a car crash in the early hours of June 29, 1967, when the car in which she was riding in slammed into the back of a semi-tractor trailer truck that had stopped due to a truck in front of the tractor trailer that was spraying for bugs, and the car in which she was riding went under the truck at nearly 80 miles per hour along with boyfriend Samuel Brody and their driver Ronnie Harrison. The damage to the car was so bad that the engine was twisted sideways.The beautiful woman who starred in 31 movies, the woman who fought so hard for respect, the woman who, in her own right, was a very good actress, was dead at age 34. Mansfield's funeral was on July 3, 1967, a small ceremony which her family, first child, and second husband Mickey Hargitay attended the same place in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, where her father was buried. Her final film, Single Room Furnished (1966), was released the following year of her death.Jayne Mansfield's fame lives on in the success of her best movies, her documentary film appearances, her 22 television appearances, and in the career of her fourth child, actress Mariska Hargitay who plays Olivia Benson on the popular NBC crime drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999).

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