2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the tragic death of an American actress, a lady with a very familiar last name and who paid at least one visit to Mansfield and Richland County.
It was on the night of June 28/29, 1967 that Jayne Mansfield and her attorney were killed on a car trip from Biloxi, Mississippi to New Orleans, Louisiana. At 2:25 AM, the car slammed into the back of a tractor trailer which had slowed behind and was obscured by a truck spraying mosquito fogger. Mansfield’s three children escaped with minor injuries.
It was a tumultuous end to a tumultuous and rather unpredictable life. Born Vera Palmer in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, she went from a Shirley Temple-wannabe to beauty queen to Playboy model to film starlet. Her marriage to Paul Mansfield gave her her trademark last name.
In the many films in which she starred between 1955 and 1967, co-stars included Edward G. Robinson, Alan Ladd, Joan Collins, Tony Randall, Cary Grant, Phyllis Diller, Walter Matthau, and Maurice Chevalier. The peak of her career was in the late 1950s, which included appearances in films such as “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”
A “bombshell” who wanted to be considered a serious actress, Mansfield was also trained in classical piano, violin, and voice. She sang on the soundtracks for a number of her films.
Jayne Mansfield is known to have visited our Mansfield at least one time. The Friday, October 27, 1961 edition of the Mansfield News Journal features a front page photo of the actress taking a story for the paper over a telephone while visiting the newspaper’s office. The accompanying article noted that Ms. Mansfield expressed disappointment that our Mansfield’s naming predated her birth, and also that she gleefully remarked on her name nevertheless being on the front page of the local phone book.
Mansfield and her then-husband were in town for the grand opening of the Giant Tiger Store at 1150 Park Avenue West. She told reporters that she had already visited Mansfield, England, now our Mansfield’s Sister City in the United Kingdom.
The Giant Tiger store was destroyed by fire just three years later.
Below is the trailer from “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”
Photo: Creative Commons License : Sources: Wikipedia, Mansfield News Journal