Welcome back my Lovely readers! For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday here at White Rose of Avalon I have chosen Jayne Mansfield. Jayne is often thought of only in terms of being an attempted replacement for Marilyn Monroe, or as the “Poor Man’s Marilyn.” However, she was an intriguing figure in her own right! She began as a young woman who convinced her husband to move with her and their young daughter to Hollywood.
It took some time, but she was able to become an actress. Like most she modeled first, and as is often the case got a divorce (her husband did not like her choices). She was employed by 20th Century Fox because Marilyn had gone off to New York, and they figured the threat of being replaced with a new blonde bombshell (and a bustier one at that) would bring her back! Jayne did a couple films, without much success, and then Marilyn came back.
This would eventually lead to Jayne going to New York and starring on Broadway in a hit production called Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. It would be this role, where she essentially played a character satirizing Marilyn Monroe (and other sex symbols) that would give her the big break she was waiting for. This happened when she got contracted to star in the film adaptation of the show,along with one of her most iconic roles in The Girl Can’t Help It. This is when she moved with her daughter back to California. Before the filming of the Rock Hunter film she would meet a man who would be a great love of her life, Mickey Hargitay! It was for this reason she got him a small role in the film.
She would marry Mickey, and they would have several children. However, this would not last, and she would remarry again. I do not want to focus on her marriages alone so that is all I will say about that. Back to her career, when Marilyn died tragically at age 36, Jayne became the first American actress to do a nude scene in a major Hollywood film. That film was Promises…Promises.
With this she completed what many thought was the most of her worth, and sadly her film role offers waned. She would go on to do shows in Las Vegas, and was well liked on the Strip! One thing Jayne is very known for is her ability to cause a stir. She was very skilled at self promotion, and was knowledgeable in how to cause a media circus. This was something she would use to her advantage!
Her love of pink, and honestly over the top tacky, decor is well documented in the home she shared with Mickey. It does not tell much about her life, but it is something she was well known for, so I figured I would mention it.
One of the most interesting things was her friendship with Anton LeVay, the Dark Pope, and inventor of modern Satanism! They took many photos together, and some speculate that she was inducted into his church, but there are not records of this. They likely bonded over shared belief in the supernatural, and experiences they had with otherworldly entities. It is known that Jayne was a believer in many supernatural phenomena, so this would make sense. I should point out that most assume they were lovers, and it is probable, but we do not know for sure!
It was not long after she was hanging out with Anton LeVay that she died tragically at the age of 34. In fact, some believe her put a curse upon her when she ended their sexual relationship (assuming they had one). The truth is we do not know what happened. What we do know is that Jayne and her boyfriend, and the driver were in the front seat of the car. Three of her children were in the back. She was on the road to New Orleans, and when the car crash happened and she was killed! Fortunately, all of the children in the back survived (none of the adults did sadly). One of the children in that back seat was her daughter Mariska Hargitay, who would go on to become an actress herself!
So, my Lovely readers, that is the sad tale of this Femme Fatale Friday actress! She was a complex and talented woman who was often overshadowed by others. But she was also a loving mother, and a great friend (I read a book by her friend who just adored her, I will list it in further reading). I hope you have enjoyed learning about her. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Jayne Mansfield. I found the image on https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0543790/.
- Jayne Mansfield: A Biography by May Mann
- Jayne Mansfield and the American Fifties by Martha Sexton
- Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter (1957)
- The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)
- Promises…Promises (1963)