Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer; April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967) was an American film, theater, and television actress. She was also a singer and nightclub entertainer as well as 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. She was also known for her well-publicized personal life and publicity stunts, such as “wardrobe malfunctions.” She made her film debut in Bruno VeSota’s Female Jungle (1955), with Kathleen Crowley, Lawrence Tierney, and John Carradine. Other early roles include Lewis Allen’s Illegal (1955), with Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, and Hugh Marlowe; and uncredited roles in Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955), with Jack Webb, Janet Leigh, Edmond O’Brien, Peggy Lee, Andy Devine, Lee Marvin, and Ella Fitzgerald; John Sturges’s Underwater! (1955), with Jane Russell, Richard Egan, Gilbert Roland, and Lori Nelson; and Frank Tuttle’s Hell on Frisco Bay (1956), with Alan Ladd, Robinson, and Joanne Dru.
Mansfield’s film career was short-lived, but she had several box-office successes and won a Theatre World Award for the play Promising Personality (1956), and a Golden Globe for New Star Of The Year – Actress for Frank Tashlin’s The Girl Can’t Help It (1956), with Tom Ewell, Edmond O’Brien, Henry Jones, and Julie London. She enjoyed success in the role of fictional actress Rita Marlowe, both in the 1955–1956 Broadway version and the film version of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), with Tony Randall, Betsy Drake, Joan Blondell, John Williams, Henry Jones, Lili Gentle, Mickey Hargitay (her second husband), and a cameo by Groucho Marx.
Her other major movie performances were in Victor Vicas’s The Wayward Bus (1957), with Joan Collins, Dan Dailey, and Rick Jason; Paul Wendkos’s The Burglar (1957), with Dan Duryea and Martha Vickers; Stanley Donen‘s Kiss Them for Me (1957), with Cary Grant, Suzy Parker, Lief Erickson, and Ray Walston; Raoul Walsh’s The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958), with Kenneth More, Henry Hull, Bruce Cabot, Ronald Squire, and William Campbell; John Gilling’s The Challenge (1960), with Anthony Quayle; Terence Young’s Too Hot to Handle (1960), with Leo Genn, Karlheinz Böhm, Christopher Lee, Danik Patisson, and Patrick Holt; Joseph M. Newman’s The George Raft Story (1961), with Ray Danton, Julie London, and Barrie Chase; and Andrew Marton’s It Happened in Athens (1962), with Trax Colton, Maria Xénia, Nico Minardos, Roger Browne in his debut, and Bob Mathias.
Mansfield became the first major American actress in a post-silent Hollywood film to have a nude scene in Promises! Promises! (1963), with Tommy Noonan, Marie McDonald, and Hargitay. Later films include Luigi Scattini’s Primitive Love (1964), with Hargitay, Franco Franchi, Ciccio Ingrassia, and Carlo Kechler; Panic Button (1964), with Maurice Chevalier, Eleanor Parker, and Mike Connors; Dog Eat Dog! (1964), with Cameron Mitchell, Dodie Heath, Ivor Salter, Isa Miranda, Elisabeth Flickenschildt, Werner Peters, and Pinkas Braun; The Fat Spy (1966), with Phyllis Diller, Jack E. Leonard, and Brian Donlevy; The Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966), with Ferlin Husky, Mamie Van Doren, and Don Bowman; and a cameo in Gene Kelly‘s A Guide for the Married Man (1967), with Walter Matthau, Robert Morse, Inger Stevens, and cameos by Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Terry-Thomas, Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Joey Bishop, Art Carney, and Wally Cox.
Mansfield took her professional name from her first husband, public relations professional Paul Mansfield. She was married and divorced three times and had five children (including actress Mariska Hargitay). She was allegedly intimately involved with numerous men, including Robert and John F. Kennedy, her attorney Samuel S. Brody, and Las Vegas entertainer Nelson Sardelli. She received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 8, 1960 for her contribution to motion pictures. On June 29, 1967, she died in an automobile accident in Eastern New Orleans at the age of 34. Single Room Furnished was her final film, released posthumously.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(*seen rereleased in theaters)
- An Angel Went AWOL (1954) – directed by Earl Eby – uncredited – TV movie/episode of Lux Video Theatre
- Female Jungle (1955) – directed by Bruno VeSota
- Pete Kelly’s Blues (1955) – directed by Jack Webb – uncredited
- Underwater! (1955) – directed by John Sturges – uncredited
- Illegal (1955) – directed by Lewis Allen
- Hell on Frisco Bay (1956) – directed by Frank Tuttle – uncredited
- Sunday Spectacular: The Bachelor (1956) – directed by Joseph Cates – TV movie
- The Girl Can’t Help It (1956) – directed by Frank Tashlin
- The Wayward Bus (1957) – directed by Victor Vicas
- The Burglar (1957) – directed by Paul Wendkos
- Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) – directed by Frank Tashlin
- Kiss Them for Me (1957) – directed by Stanley Donen
- The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) – directed by Raoul Walsh
- The Challenge (1960) – directed by John Gilling
- Too Hot to Handle (1960) – directed by Terence Young
- The Loves of Hercules (1960) – directed by Carlo Ludovico Bragaglia
- The George Raft Story (1961) – directed by Joseph M. Newman
- It Happened in Athens (1962) – directed by Andrew Marton
- Homesick for St. Pauli (1963) – directed by Werner Jacobs
- Promises… Promises! (1963) – directed by King Donovan
- Panic Button (1964) – directed by George Sherman & Giuliano Carnimeo
- Primitive Love (1964) – directed by Luigi Scattini
- Dog Eat Dog! (1964) – directed by Richard Cunha & Gustav Gavrin
- The Fat Spy (1966) – directed by Joseph Cates
- The Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966) – directed by Arthur C. Pierce
- A Guide for the Married Man (1967) – directed by Gene Kelly – cameo
- Single Room Furnished (1968) – directed by Matt Cimber (as Matteo Ottavio) – posthumous release
- The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968) – directed by Charles W. Broun Jr., Joel Holt, & Arthur Knight – documentary – posthumous release