It’s a common misconception that Jayne Mansfield passed away in a horrific vehicle crash in June of 1967, where she was killed and her skull severed. However, the reality is even more gruesome – and much more tragic.
Who Was Jayne Mansfield?
In the 1950s, Jayne Mansfield became famous by playing Marilyn Monroe’s cartoonishly sexy opposite. Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933. By the time she was 21, she was already married and had a child.
Jayne Mansfield relaxes on an inflatable raft in a swimming pool in Los Angeles, California, in 1957. Around her are bottles shaped like versions of herself in bikinis.
Mansfield was the star of movies like Too Hot to Handle (1960) and The Girl Can’t Help It (1956). But the actress was best known for her personality off-screen, where she played up her curves and sold herself as a naughtier version of Marilyn Monroe.
Lawrence J. Quirk, who works in Hollywood, once asked Monroe about Jayne Mansfield. Monroe complained, “All she does is copy me, but her copies are an insult to her as well as to me.”
Monroe said, “I know it’s supposed to be flattering to be copied, but she does it so rudely and crudely that I wish I could sue her.”
Jayne Mansfield didn’t try to avoid the competition. In fact, she tried to get with John F. Kennedy because he was with Marilyn Monroe. Mansfield laughed after she got the president and said, “I’ll bet Marilyn’s as mad as all get out!”
Mickey Hargitay, an actor, and bodybuilder was Mansfield’s second husband. They got married in 1958. The couple had three kids, one of whom was Mariska Hargitay, and they were in a few movies together.
Mansfield got married three times, got divorced each time, and had five children. She also had a number of affairs that got a lot of attention.
Mansfield didn’t hide the fact that she was a sex symbol. She posed for Playboy as a playmate and said, “I think sex is healthy, and there’s too much guilt and hypocrisy about it.”
Her complicated love life was always in the tabloids, and she broke rules that other stars wouldn’t touch at the time. She was known for showing her breasts to photographers on the street, and in the 1963 movie Promises, Promises, she was the first well-known American actress to strip off on screen.
She also didn’t avoid the camp. Mansfield was known for living in The Pink Palace, a rose-colored Hollywood mansion with a heart-shaped swimming pool that she called home.
But when Mansfield heard about Marilyn Monroe’s sudden death in 1962, the bold actress thought, “Maybe I’ll be next.”
Jayne Mansfield Death
Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident five years after Marilyn Monroe did. Mansfield left Biloxi, Mississippi, in the early morning hours of June 29, 1967, and drove toward New Orleans.
The actress had just done a show at a nightclub in Biloxi, and she had to get to New Orleans for a TV appearance the next day. Also, read about Rob Ashton Death
Mansfield sat in the front seat with the driver, Ronald B. Harrison, and her boyfriend, Samuel S. Brody, for the long trip. The backseat was where three of her children slept.
Mansfield with her five children in 1965. From left to right, you can see Jayne Marie Mansfield, 15, Zoltan Hargitay, 5, Mickey Hargitay Jr., 6, an unidentified hospital worker, Jayne holding baby Anthony, and her third husband, Matt Cimber, with Mariska Hargitay, 1.
The 1966 Buick Electra crashed into the back of a trailer truck just after 2 a.m., killing everyone in the front seat instantly. Harrison probably didn’t see the truck until it was too late because a machine nearby was pumping out thick fog to kill mosquitos.
The top of the Buick Electra was cut off when it slid under the back of the trailer after hitting the truck.
When the police arrived, Mansfield’s three children were still alive in the backseat. Three adults in the front seat died right away, and Mansfield’s dog also died. On the spot, police said that the actress was dead.
As people heard about the terrible accident, rumors spread that Jaynes Mansfield had been cut in half in the crash.
After the accident, photos of Jayne Mansfield’s body were made public, which added to the rumors. Her wig had been thrown out of the car, which made it look like her head had been cut off in some pictures.
Police say that Mansfield’s death was horrible, but it happened very quickly. “The top of this white woman’s head was cut off,” the police report written after the accident says.
On her death certificate, it says that Mansfield suffered a crushed skull and a partial separation of her cranium, which is more like being scalped than being totally cut off at the head. But the story of the head-chopping keeps getting told. It was even in the 1996 movie Crash.
After the rumor that Mansfield had been killed, there was another one. People who like to talk about other people said that the starlet was killed by a curse Anton LaVey put on her boyfriend Brody. The starlet had been in a relationship with Anton LaVey, the founder of the Church of Satan.
This rumor has not been proven true, of course. But it is still remembered, in part because of the 2017 documentary Mansfield 66/67.
The Car Accident That Led to the Reform of Federal Laws
The way Jayne Mansfield died was so horrible that it made the federal government want to make sure nothing like it ever happened again.
After Mansfield’s Buick slid under the back of an 18-wheeler, its top was ripped off. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration changed the way all semi-trucks were made after the accident. Semi-trucks now have to put a steel bar on the bottom of their trailers to stop cars from rolling under.
Because of Jayne Mansfield, these bars are now called “Mansfield Bars.” Their goal is to make sure that no one else has to go through what the Hollywood starlet did.