Jayne Mansfield (April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967)
Born Vera Jayne Palmer, Jayne Mansfield was an American film, theater, and television actress. She was also a nightclub entertainer and a singer, and one of the early Playboy Playmates. She was a major Hollywood sex symbol during the 1950s and early 1960s while under contract at 20th Century Fox, securing said contract after the death of Marilyn Monroe, who she was supposed to replace. She was also known for her well-publicized personal life and publicity stunts, such as “wardrobe malfunctions.”
Mansfield’s film career was short-lived, but she had several box-office successes, winning a Golden Globe. She enjoyed success in the role of fictional actress Rita Marlowe, both in the 1955–1956 Broadway version and the 1957 film version of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Her other major movie performances were in The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), The Wayward Bus (1957), and Too Hot to Handle (1960). She became the first major American actress in a Hollywood film to have a nude scene in Promises! Promises! (1963).
Mansfield was married three times: From 1950 to 1958 to public relations professional Paul Mansfield (whose name she retained through her professional career), from 1958 to 1964 to actor Miklos “Mickey” Hargitay and from 1964 to 1966 to film director Matt Cimber. She had a daughter with Mansfield (Jayne Marie Mansfield), three with Hargitay (Mickey Hargitay Jr., Zolton Hargitay and actress Mariska Hargitay) and a son with Cimber (Tony Cimber). Mansfield is also known for her alleged affairs: including Robert and John F. Kennedy, her attorney Samuel S. Brody, and Las Vegas entertainer Nelson Sardelli.
In June 1967, Mansfield was in Biloxi, Mississippi, for an engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club. After two appearances on the evening of June 28, Mansfield, Sam Brody (her attorney and companion), their driver Ronnie Harrison (age 20), and three of her children— Miklós, Zoltán, and Mariska—left Biloxi after midnight in a 1966 Buick Electra 225. Their destination was New Orleans, where Mansfield was to appear on WDSU’s Midday Show the next day. At about 2:25 a.m., on U.S. Highway 90 west of the Rigolets Bridge, the Buick crashed at high speed into the rear of a tractor-trailer that had slowed behind a truck spraying mosquito fogger shrouded in an insecticide fog. The three adults in the front seat died instantly. The children, asleep in the rear seat, survived with minor injuries.