The second most famous of the "Blonde Bombshells
" of The Fifties
, Jayne Mansfield paralleled Marilyn Monroe
in many ways.
- She was not a natural blonde.
- She was a lot smarter than her roles portrayed her as being: She spoke five languages, and managed much of her publicity.
- She appeared in Playboy, but as a centerfold.
- She was married three times, but had five children instead of being childless, one of whom was Mariska Hargitay (of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit).
- She tragically died young, only she didn't commit suicide nor is her death shrouded in conspiracy theory the way Marilyn Monroe's death was. Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident in 1967 while driving to a talk show gig in Louisiana. The only dubious detail about her death is the Urban Legend that she was decapitated in the accident. Mansfield actually had her skull crushed in and her hair was found on the side of the road. Whether it was her actual hair or a wig is up for debate, but it's most likely that it was her real hair and scalp.
Her legacy isn't so famous as that of Marilyn, but she is an important part of film history. Modern film goers probably know her best through Kill Bill
, as one of the songs sung by the 5,6,7,8s—the band in the restaurant sequence—is about Jayne Mansfield. She was also the mother of Mariska Hargitay
Tropes associated with Jayne Mansfield and her characters include:
- Dark-Skinned Blonde: This is especially notable in a 1955 photograph which depicts her and Marilyn Monroe glaring at each other after meeting at a movie premiere. Even though the photo is in black and white, Jayne's somewhat darker skin and much lighter blond hair appear in stark contrast to Marilyn's features.
- Dumb Blonde: Just on-screen.
- Her IQ was reportedly at or close to genius-level.
- Apparently, she spoke five languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Italian) and played both piano and the violin. Mansfield herself claimed her IQ was at 163.
- Fur Bikini: More like an angora one, but it still counts.
- Going Fur a Swim: A scene in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
- Pimped-Out Dress: The dress in the page picture, among others.
- Poor Man's Substitute: In the mid-1950s, Twentieth Century Fox and Marilyn Monroe had a contract dispute. To put pressure on Marilyn, the studio decided to find a substitute. Enter aspiring actress Mansfield, who thought that becoming a real-life Marilyn expy would jump start her career. She was partly right — she got starring roles a lot sooner than if she'd worked her way up the ladder, but it led to her being labeled as "The Poor Man's Marilyn Monroe" (in that the movies in which Mansfield starred were fewer and not so popular as Marilyn's). Unfortunately, this led to type-casting as a blond bimbo, and when the 1960s arrived and styles changed, demand for her dropped.
- Trope Namer: Sort of. The underride guard of modern tractor trailers is known as a "Mansfield Bar", a reference to her rather unsexy demise.
- What Could Have Been: Was apparently offered the role of Ginger on Gilligan's Island but turned it down because it epitomized the stereotype she was trying to get away from and she didn't want to degrade herself by doing television (a lot of actors at the time thought doing television was as low as an actor could go).