Jayne Mansfield became a Hollywood superstar in the 1950s, being a provocateur of her time. She tragically passed away in a car accident in 1967 that also involved her three-year-old daughter Mariska Hargitay, in the vehicle at the time.
Luckily, Mariska made it out alive. Today, she’s also a well-known actress. And she’s the spitting image of her mother!
Many actors and actresses have to work for decades upon decades to reach Hollywood superstar status. It takes time, patience and a lot of will and sacrifice to make it to the top, but in the end, most celebrities would probably say it’s worth it.
Jayne Mansfield, however, needed only around 10 years to become a superstar. She became one of the biggest sex symbol of the 1950s and 1960s, starring in several smash-hit movies.
At times, she was known as “the poor man’s Marilyn Monroe”, because of the roles she was offered, but despite the roles – many of which would fit into the “dumb blonde” category – she wasn’t like that at all.
The mother of five children tragically passed away following a car accident in 1967. Today, though, her children are doing their best to keep her legacy alive.
This is the story of Jayne Mansfield’s energetic life – and her daughter Mariska Hargitay, who looks just like her mother.
Jayne Mansfield – childhood
Jayne Mansfield’s life was full of both glamour and tragedy.
Born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, as a child she was exposed to the more creative side of life. Her father Herbert was a musician, and as a young child she took both singing and violin lessons.
Yet at just three years of age, Jayne Mansfield experienced tragedy when her father died of a heart attack while driving with the family. Her mother Vera, who used to be a school teacher, was left alone with her daughter, and returned to work in order to support her family.
“Something went out of my life,” she said. “My earliest memories are the best. I always try to remember the good times when Daddy was alive.”
In 1939, Jayne’s mother married a new man and the family moved to Dallas, Texas. At the same time, Jayne Mansfield dreamt about being a Hollywood star. She adored Judy Garland and went to all of her films, even going as far as to dress as the famous actress.
Moving to Los Angeles
Mansfield hadn’t even graduated from high school before meeting her first big love. In 1950, the future icon tied the knot with 20-year-old Paul Mansfield. Together, they left to study acting at the Southern Methodist University. Just one year after their marriage, Jayne gave birth to her first daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield.
Following attending a summer class at UCLA, Los Angeles, Mansfield entered a Miss California contest, though she later dropped out. The family decided to study at the University of Texas in Austin, where Jayne performed in several theatre productions.
That in itself proved to be great fun, but her dream remained Hollywood. Of course, to be able to make it in Hollywood, you needed to be there, and so the family decided that it was time. Mansfield and her family relocated to Los Angeles in 1954.
Naturally, as is the case for any aspiring actor or actress, getting into the industry isn’t easy. Jayne started to work as a model and before long her body became the most central part of her life, but also a big problem.
The future pinup-icon had trouble getting work because of casting agents thinking that her curvy, beautiful figure was way too sexy for a commercial or ad. It actually came to a point where she was cut out of her very first ad, was a print ad for General Electric.
Start of Hollywood career
Jayne wanted to be on screen, and soon got her big chance. She went to audition for both Paramount and Warner Brothers studios, though neither of them wanted her.
Yet while she was reading at Paramount, the head of casting, Milton Lewis, did something that would change Jayne’s perception of herself.
”I had been to three different universities and two or three dramatic schools before I went to Hollywood, preparing myself for my hoped career as an actress. I did a soliloquy for Joan of Arc for Milton Lewis who was head of casting at Paramount Studios in order to audition. And he seemed to think I was wasting my ”obvious talents”. He lightened my hair and tightened my dresses, and this is the result.”
Jayne Mansfield wanted to compete with Marilyn Monroe, the biggest and brightest Hollywood star at the time. But at the same time as her career in Hollywood was beginning, her husband Paul had simply had enough. The couple divorced in 1955, and their daughter stayed with Jayne in Los Angeles.