Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer; April 19, 1933 June 29, 1967) was an American actress, and as the second most famous of the "Blonde Bombshells" of The '50s, 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 in the 1960snote
Her legacy isn't so famous as that of Marilyn, but she is an important part of film history. She was also the mother of Mariska Hargitay, who at 3 years old was asleep in the back seat along with her siblings during the fatal car crash, and was left with a scar on her face.
The Siouxsie and the Banshees song "Kiss Them for Me" is inspired by Mansfield. It was named after a movie co-starring Cary Grant that Mansfield hoped would legitimize her as an actress. (That's not how it went down.)
- The Girl Can't Help It (notably, it inspired future members of The British Invasion, including John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles)
- Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (both the play and the radically altered movie)
- The Loves of Hercules (one of four films made with her husband Mickey Hargitay, and later featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000)
- It Happened in Athens
- Promises! Promises! (1963)
Tropes associated with Jayne Mansfield's 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. Apparently, she spoke five languages (English, French, Spanish, German and Italian), played both piano and the violin, and her IQ was reportedly at or close to genius-level; Mansfield herself claimed her IQ was at 163.
- Going Fur a Swim: She wore a white mink coat over a swimsuit, so her character could make a grand entrance in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
- Head-Turning Beauty: Most of her film roles didn't just have her being sexy, they had everyone else gawking at her sexiness.
- Ms. Fanservice: Her roles played up her sexiness.
- Pimped-Out Dress: The dress in the page picture is pretty elaborate, as were other dresses her rich characters sometimes wore.
- Poor Man's Substitute: In the mid-1950s, 20th 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.
- Pretty in Mink: Her characters had money, or knew people who did, so they wore several nice furs.
- Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Her complete inability to stay out of the tabloids put a serious damper on her career in the late '50s, and she resorted to doing several cheap movies in Italy until people started to forgive it. One of them, The Loves of Hercules, brought her a lot of newfound attention in 2017 when it was featured in the revival of Mystery Science Theater 3000.
- Sexy Walk: Her characters would do this, and any guy watching would be stunned.
- Sweater Girl: Some of her roles had her in tight sweaters.
- Trope Namer: Sort of. The underride guard of modern tractor trailers is known as a "Mansfield Bar", a reference to her rather unsexy demise.
- Urban Legend: That the fateful tractor trailer decapitated her when she hit it. This was likely sparked by the sight of the blonde object tangled up in the car's windshield on the crime scene (actually a wig she was wearing.) The underride guard did not rip her head off, at least not not all of it at once.
- 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, with even Tina Louise herself horribly embarrassed at being associated with the role).