Friday, March 9, 2012

Jayne Mansfield: Gone Too Soon

When I seen that Comet Over Hollywood was holding the Gone Too Soon Blogathon in March I was intrigued because there were so many greats who's lives ended too soon. Some of my favorites like Marilyn Monroe, Jean Harlow, and Judy Garland are among those who died before the age of 50. For this blogathon I decided to write about Jayne Mansfield. Known more for her voluptuous figure and scandalous publicity stunts... many don't know about the women behind the tatas. So in this star profile, I will discuss the highlights and little known facts about Jayne.

All breasts and no brains? Not this lady!

Probably the biggest misconception about Jayne is that she was a 'dumb blonde'. This one sort of came with the territory of blonde bombshell in the 1950's. Along side Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren, and Kim Novak, Jayne's figure was what brought the film offers in... not the acting. It didn't help that Jayne realized it wasn't her 163 IQ (by her own claim) that got publicity, but rather her 40-21-35 shape, and used it to her advantage to further her film career. What is a shame is many people still do not know that Jayne was one smart cookie. A woman who spoke five different languages and was a classically trained violinist and pianist is no dumb blonde. Let's face it, anyone without brains wouldn't have been able to build a career with so little successful films and still be a household name to this day!

Award Winning Actress? You Betcha!

But it wasn't just her smarts that went under the radar... the public has never given her acting the props it deserved. Beyond the fact that she won a Theatre World Award and a Golden Globe, it would take a great actor to convince the world she was the persona she portrayed. The blonde hair, the hour glass figure, the high pitched squeal... it was all part of the character she created. All you have to do is watch The Girl Cant Help It (1956) or Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957) to see what a wonderful comedian she was. Want to see her do a dramatic role? Check her out in 1957's The Wayward Bus or The Burgler. Jayne also received praise for her roles on the stage as well. She performed in successful runs of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Bus Stop, and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman.

Missed Roles? There were a few!

Early in her career Jayne tried her hand for the part of The Girl in the film version of The Seven Year Itch, but was unable to impress the studio heads. She was also offered the lead role opposite James Stewart and Jack Lemmon in Bell, Book, And Candle. She had to turn the role down due to being pregnant and the role was given to one of her rivals Kim Novak. In the 60's she was offered the role of Ginger on the television show Gilligan's Island, but turned it down because she felt the role was more of the same typecast she was trying to avoid. I cant even imagine how different these works would have been with Jayne in those roles... would have been interesting to see.

Career outside of Hollywood? For sure.

When her career in Hollywood slowed down, Jayne took to the Las Vegas stage for a nightclub act called The House of Love. She earned top dollar for the times and the show was such a success that 20th Century Fox Records recorded the show and released Jayne Mansfield Busts Up Last Vegas. She would eventually take her hit show on road and eventually around the world. 

As you can see there was much more to Jayne Mansfield than what meets the eye. Ive always been fascinated by her and I you learned something new about her from reading this. Her life came to a tragic end far too soon, and we lost one of our iconic Blonde Bombshells.


  1. She was on fire in The Girl Can't Help It. I personally like her more than Monroe.

  2. I have also been been fascinated by her. I wished that she would have taken the role in the television show Gilligan's Island.

  3. Oh - another great and classy post about a woman I really like, Craig! Love, love, LOVE your style.. Your blog is so wonderfully elegant.. Have a lovely weekend!

  4. I've never really given Jayne a chance, if I'm honest. I'll have to check out some of her films. :)

    Just wanted to let you know that I gave you a blog award here: :)

  5. I've also tagged you with the award: :)

  6. I saw Jayne Mansfield in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter and she was so funny in it, as the spoiled star, trying to make her old boyfriend jealous. A fun movie. Enjoyed your post!

  7. Thanks for popping by and reading my Montgomery Clift post.

    I have never seen a single one of Jayne Mansfield's films, so I know absolutely nothing about her. Except isn't she the mother of one of today's famous actresses?

    Thanks for your informational post.

  8. You found some beautiful pictures of Mansfield. And I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Girl Can't Help It.

  9. Sadly, whenever I hear Jayne's name I think of her outlandish clothing, her sexpot poses as well as her love for her little chihuahuas but more importantly, the love she had for Mickey and her children.

    I haven't seen that many of her films but that's partially because TCM rarely runs them. So it's not because I don't want to.

    I always looked at Mamie Van Doren as a poor imitation of Jayne. I do know that Jayne must have been a blast to hang out with. She was kind, generous and loving. I don't think she took herself too seriously which is rare in Hollywood.

    I'm sure nobody can look at Mariska today without thinking about Jayne. The resemblance is uncanny!

    A fun contribution to the Blogathon!

  10. GREG MAY of Orlando, FL says: "Jayne Mansfield fans will enjoy my article, 'Jayne Mansfield: Florida or Bust!' at The story is all about the strange coincidences involving Jayne and Florida. Her film career began in 1955 at Florida's Silver Springs,
    she made the worst movie of all time in 1966 in Cape Coral, her mangled death car, well, read the article yourself for the strange, chilling ending."