MANSFIELD, VERA JAYNE PALMER (1933–1967). Jayne Mansfield, motion picture actress, daughter of Herbert W. and Vera (Jeffrey) Palmer, was born Vera Jane Palmer, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, on April 19, 1933. After her father died of a heart attack in 1936, she and her mother moved back to Pennsylvania. In 1939 her mother married Harry L. Peers and they moved to Dallas, where the future actress attended Highland Park High School. She studied dramatics at Southern Methodist University, the University of Texas, and, later, the University of California at Los Angeles. She was selected Miss Photoflash in 1952 and subsequently won many other beauty titles. Though she has been said to have appeared first in Underwater (1954), her first film was evidently The Female Jungle (1955). She made brief appearances in Prehistoric Women (1955), Illegal (1955), and Pete Kelly's Blues (1955) and signed for her Broadway debut in George Axelrod's play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955). The following year she emerged in films and became a major sex symbol in the mode of Marilyn Monroe. Although her fame was short-lived, Jayne was featured in the movie version of Rock Hunter opposite Tony Randall (1957), The Wayward Bus (1957), Kiss Them for Me (1957), The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958), The George Raft Story (1961), It Happened in Athens (1962), A Guide for the Married Man (1967), and other films, working with such directors as Raoul Walsh, Mitch Leisen, Stanley Donen, and Frank Tashlin. She made a number of guest appearances on television, formed Jayne Mansfield Productions, posed several times for Playboy magazine, performed with nightclub acts in Las Vegas, and, toward the end of her career, starred in a number of low-budget films in Europe.
At sixteen, before leaving Texas, Jayne married Paul Mansfield; a daughter, Jayne Marie, was born to them in 1950. Jayne divorced Mansfield in 1956 and married Miklos (Mickey) Hargitay, a former Mr. Universe, two years later. With Hargitay she had two sons, Miklos Jeffrey and Zoltan Anthony, and a daughter, Mariska Magdolna. Jayne and Hargitay were divorced in 1964. A few months later she married Matt Cimber, who had directed her in Bus Stop in Yonkers, New York, and later in the film Single Room Furnished (1967). In 1965 she gave birth to a son, Anthony Richard. On June 29, 1967, Jayne Mansfield was killed in a motor accident near New Orleans, Louisiana, on the way to a television engagement. She was buried in the family plot in Fairview Cemetery in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania.
May Mann, Jayne Mansfield (New York: Drake, 1973). Martha Saxton, Jayne Mansfield and the American Fifties (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1975). Raymond Strait, The Tragic Secret Life of Jayne Mansfield (Chicago: Regnery, 1974).
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.Handbook of Texas Online, Ronald L. Davis, "MANSFIELD, JAYNE," accessed July 06, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fma36.
Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on April 10, 2020. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.