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Who is Jayne Mansfield?

Niki Acker
Updated May 23, 2024
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Jayne Mansfield was an American actress and model of the 1950s and 60s, famous for her extreme hourglass figure and her trademark high-pitched squeal. Though she saw some success in Hollywood, her public bombshell persona, complete with wardrobe malfunctions, gained her the most public attention. Jayne Mansfield exemplified the dumb blonde, but was reportedly a genius in real life, with an IQ of 163.

Jayne Mansfield was born on 19 April 1933 in Pennsylvania, but lived in New Jersey with her parents, Herbert and Vera, during her early years. Mansfield showed an interest in performing very early on, often singing to an audience of stuffed animals. When she was three years old, her father died of a heart attack. She claimed to have fond memories of him, though she was so young at the time of his death. Three years later, Vera remarried and the family moved to Dallas, Texas.

After a trip to Hollywood, California in 1946, Jayne Mansfield was sure her true calling was as a movie star. She married at the age of 16 and soon after had a daughter, Jayne Marie. Jayne Mansfield began studying drama after her high school graduation, first at Southern Methodist University, then at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1953, she attended summer session at UCLA, returning to Southern Methodist in the fall. In October of that year, she performed in her first play, Death of A Salesman by Arthur Miller.

Late in 1954, Jayne Mansfield moved to Los Angeles with her family to follow her dream of Hollywood stardom. She continued her drama education at UCLA and landed her first film role, in Female Jungle, in just a few months. Her popularity as an actress quickly grew, though she was never taken very seriously as an actress and most of her roles were comedic. She performed on Broadway in 1955's Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? to great critical acclaim and starred in the film version two years later.

Jayne Mansfield's success in Hollywood was intense, but short lived, tapering off after the 1957 film Kiss Them for Me, starring Cary Grant. She was overshadowed by Marilyn Monroe and never widely appreciated for her few straight dramatic roles. Her public persona also became too flamboyant for the movie studios' taste.

Jayne Mansfield divorced her first husband, Paul Mansfield, in 1958, just five days before her second marriage, to bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay. Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay had three children - Miklós, Zoltan, and Mariska - before their 1963 divorce. During their marriage, Mansfield and Hargitay costarred in plays including Bus Stop and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. In 1964, Jayne Mansfield married for a third time, to Italian director Matt Cimber. The couple had a son, Tony, in 1965, but separated soon after.

Jayne Mansfield met with a tragic end on 29 June 1967, at the age of 34. En route to a television appearance with her boyfriend and divorce lawyer, Sam Brody, their driver, and her three children with Mickey Hargitay, she suffered a fatal car accident. Only the three children survived. After her death, Jayne Mansfield became somewhat of a cult figure. She is buried in Fairview Cemetery in Pennsylvania, but has a memorial cenotaph in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

PublicPeople is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Niki Acker
By Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of interesting and unusual topics to gather ideas for her own articles. A graduate of UCLA with a double major in Linguistics and Anthropology, Niki's diverse academic background and curiosity make her well-suited to create engaging content for WiseGeekreaders. "
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Niki Acker
Niki Acker
"In addition to her role as a PublicPeople editor, Niki Foster is passionate about educating herself on a wide range of...
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