“I like being a pin-up girl. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
Vera Jayne Mansfield was born on April 19, 1933 to Herbert and Vera Palmer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Raised in New Jersey, Jayne was doted upon by both of her parents. Sadly, Jayne’s happy family life was cut short with Herbert’s death in 1936. Vera remarried in 1939 to Harry Peers, moved to Dallas with Jayne, and Jayne became Vera Jayne Peers.
In 1950, Jayne found herself pregnant and married her baby’s father, Paul Mansfield. She gave birth to their daughter, Jayne Marie, in November but had her heart set on becoming a star. After an ill-fated move to Hollywood in 1951, Jayne returned to Dallas to be with Paul and Jayne Marie. Paul, Jayne, and Jayne Marie moved to Camp Gordon in Georgia for Paul’s basic training in the armed forces. Jayne solicited a promise from her husband to return to Hollywood after he got back and the family moved to Tinseltown in April of 1954.
Jayne worked hard in an odd-jobs around town but film work seemed to eternally be out of her grasp. She received an inheritance and promptly purchased a house on Wanda Park Drive in Beverly Hills. Paul left that October and Jayne began raising Jayne Marie as a single parent. Jayne soon found work in a live television movie, The Angel Went AWOL, and the low The Hangover. After securing an invite to the Florida premiere of Underwater!, Jayne became known by the studios and signed a contract with Warner Brothers on January 31, 1955.
Jayne played in a few bit parts but found herself dropped by July, after she won the role of Rita Marlowe in George Axelrod’s latest Broadway play, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. Jayne soon became the toast of Broadway and found the studios clawing for the chance to sign her. In March of 1956, Jayne signed with Fox and returned to Hollywood six months later to begin filming The Girl Can’t Help It. Jayne was finally a star.
After marrying Mickey Hargitay on January 13, 1958, Jayne found her work with Fox drying up. She soon welcomed her second child, Miklos Jr. that December, and started being loaned out to European studios in 1959. In 1960, Jayne welcomed her third child, Zoltan, and her fourth, Mariska, in 1964. Jayne’s marriage was effectively over by Mariska’s birth, and the couple divorced later that year so Jayne could marry her new love, director Matt Cimber. Matt and Jayne would welcome their son, Tony, in October of 1965 but the marriage was quickly souring. Jayne filed for divorce in 1966 and kindled a relationship with her divorce attorney, Sam Brody.
Jayne had been performing on the nightclub circuit for several years when she found herself performing at Biloxi, Mississippi’s Gus Steven’s Supper Club in June of 1967. On June 28, 1967, Jayne, Sam, Miklos, Zoltan, and Mariska got into Steven’s 1966 Buick, driven by Steven’s soon-to-be son-in-law, Ronnie Harrison. The car crashed into the back of a semi in the early hours of the 29th. Jayne, Sam, and Ronnie were killed instantly but Jayne’s three children all survived. Jayne was 34.
Frequently Asked Questions
Was Jayne a Satanist?
No, Jayne was not a Satanist. Jayne may have visited Anton LaVey’s Black House in October 1966 but there is no evidence to support this claim. LaVey tried to claimed Jayne was a member while she was still alive, and she was horrified, telling the press she would always have a deep love for God. A few weeks before her death, she announced she was converting to Judaism.
Did Jayne Really Have an I.Q. of 163?
I.Q. tests were all the rage in the 50s while Jayne was in college. She reportedly had the I.Q. test results in the back of one of her many scrapbooks. As for the validity of the number, I’ve never seen the certificate, but Jayne was a polyglot and a shrewd businesswoman, so she was definitely intelligent.
Was Jayne Signed by Fox to Scare Marilyn?
Studios would commonly sign starlets to keep their stars in line. When Jayne was signed in 1956, Marilyn was working on Bus Stop and had declared she would be focusing on more serious pictures. Jayne was likely signed to fill the void Marilyn’s strike against dumb blonde roles had left. Marilyn would not return to her dumb blonde roots for three years. When Jayne first went to Hollywood, she hoped to be more in the vein of Liz Taylor but could only find work playing airheads.
Why Did Jayne Crash Sophia Loren’s Party?
Jayne did not crash the party; she was invited by Fox’s publicity department being Fox threw the party as part of their premiere for Loren’s The Boy on a Dolphin. Jayne’s behavior was uncharacteristic, staying less than an hour, likely pointing to Fox being “in” on Jayne pulling something. Fox used the stunt to great advantage, having starlets crash in on press conferences for Jayne while she was in Europe promoting Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter and demanding “bust-offs,” which she would demurely shy away from.
While the couple’s divorce was finalized in January of 1958, Paul left Jayne almost four years before. The marriage dissolved due to Jayne’s quest for stardom.
1964 – 1966
Jayne and Matt were like oil and water but Jayne hoped to rejuvenate her flailing career with Matt at it’s helm but it wasn’t to be. Matt and Jayne got divorced due to her alcoholism and whispers of abuse by both parties.
Jayne filed for divorce numerous times starting in 1962 after she had a string of affairs, but it wasn’t until she met Matt Cimber that she gave Mickey the boot for good.
1966 – 1967
While Sam and Jayne never actually got married, they were reportedly planning on it. Sam would frequently beat Jayne, and she allegedly told friends she wanted to end the relationship but couldn’t. Regardless, Sam was killed right next to her the night she died.
“A woman should be pink and cuddly for a man.”