Jayne Mansfield, the iconic Hollywood actress of the 1950s and 1960s, had a life filled with glamour and unfortunate circumstances. Born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Mansfield was exposed to the arts from an early age. Her father, a musician, nurtured her talents in singing and playing the violin.
Tragedy struck when Mansfield was only three years old. Her father passed away from a heart attack while the family was traveling, leaving her mother, Vera, to support the family as a former schoolteacher. Jayne’s early memories were deeply affected by the loss of her father, and she cherished the moments she had with him.
Despite the challenges she faced, Mansfield dreamt of becoming a Hollywood star. She idolized Judy Garland and dressed like the renowned actress. At a young age, Mansfield met her first husband, Paul Mansfield, and their union led to the birth of their daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield.
Rising to Stardom: Jayne Mansfield’s Hollywood Journey
Mansfield’s journey to Hollywood was not an easy one. Casting directors initially saw her voluptuous figure as a hindrance, believing she was too tempting for commercial or advertising roles. She even had to edit her very first ad, fearing it was too provocative.
However, Mansfield’s career took a turn when she auditioned for Paramount Studios. The head of casting, Milton Lewis, saw potential in her and transformed her image by lightening her hair and adjusting her wardrobe. She aimed to compete with Marilyn Monroe, the reigning Hollywood star, and achieved great success.
Famously known for her provocative and pinup image, Mansfield starred in numerous films, including the classic comedy “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” (1957) and the Western “The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw” (1958). Despite being dubbed “The Poor Man’s Marilyn Monroe,” she established herself as a sex symbol of the 1950s.
The Tragic End of Jayne Mansfield
Mansfield’s Hollywood career began to decline in the early 1960s, leading her to explore opportunities beyond the United States. She acted in films in Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, and performed on stage at nightclubs. Unfortunately, her Hollywood stardom couldn’t sustain itself.
In 1967, Mansfield embarked on a tour in the United Kingdom and tragically lost her life in a car accident while traveling from a nightclub appearance in Mississippi to New Orleans. Mansfield, her boyfriend, Sam Brody, and their driver were all killed instantly in the collision.
Remarkably, Mansfield’s three children who were in the car, including three-year-old Mariska Hargitay, survived the accident. Mariska, now a well-known actress herself, bears a striking resemblance to her late mother.
Mariska Hargitay: Following in Her Mother’s Footsteps
Mariska Hargitay, the daughter of Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay, also entered the entertainment industry as an actress. Despite the tragedy of losing her mother at a young age, Mariska found her own path in the world of acting.
After studying drama at UCLA, Mariska made her film debut in 1984. She spent years working on various TV shows before landing her breakthrough role as Olivia Benson in NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in 1999. Her portrayal of Olivia Benson has earned her critical acclaim, including an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe.
Mariska has embraced her own identity and resisted pressure to change her appearance or name to mimic her mother. She has created a successful acting career of her own, with her remarkable smile reminding us of her mother’s beauty.
A Family Woman
Mariska Hargitay married actor and producer Peter Hermann in 2004, and they now have three children together. Being a wife and mother has brought immense joy to Mariska’s life. It has also helped her understand her own mother in a new light, allowing her to feel closer to the guardian she lost so young.
In 2013, the stars of Jayne Mansfield and Mariska Hargitay were placed next to each other on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, symbolizing the reunion of mother and daughter in some ways. Jayne Mansfield’s unforgettable performances will always be remembered, and Mariska Hargitay continues to make her mark in the entertainment industry.
Share Their Story
The captivating story of Jayne Mansfield and Mariska Hargitay reminds us of the enduring bonds of family, the resilience in the face of tragedy, and the power of pursuing your dreams. Share this amazing story with your family and friends to celebrate the lives of these incredible women.