At first glance a cut-rate Hollywood version of Marilyn Monroe, she has confounded Hollywood watchers in recent years because she was more — skilled both promotionally and as a thespian (doubters should check out her earliest movies).
Jayne Mansfield made a big imprint in Hollywood during the Fifties and Sixties, the dying days of the old studio system. She famously held court in Beverly Hills, in a pink, Spanish-style mansion complete with heart-shaped pool and master bed. Media were invited non-stop.
Alas, the goal of “improving herself” was elusive. Warner Bros. and 20th Century Fox both explored her career potential and found it wanting. Mansfield was reduced to making exploitation pictures in Europe. Her end came much too soon.
How much did you actually know about this fascinating Hollywood comet? Let’s take a look at the answers to our Monday Quiz (to review the questions, just scroll down to the blog below), and find out.
1) Answer: Mansfield’s real name was a) Vera Palmer. Jayne was her middle name. Emma Matzo was Lizabeth Scott’s original monicker; Virginia McMath was Ginger Rogers; and Bette Perske belonged to Lauren Bacall.
2) Answer: b) Mickey Hargitay.
3) Answer: b) Columbia Pictures’ tidy 1957 film noir, The Burglar, has a less-flashy Mansfield portraying a somewhat innocent young woman under the protection of hardened criminal Dan Duryea. The picture proved Mansfield could act and landed her a studio contract. The picture itself wasn’t so lucky. It had a troubled releasing history and didn’t hit theaters until a full two years after its completion. It’s still worth checking out.
4) Answer: d) Sophia Loren, who had just arrived in Hollywood and was being feted at Romanoff’s restaurant in 1957. Loren later recalled: A tipsy Mansfield sat next to her at a table and started talking — it was like a volcano erupting. As she got more and more worked up, suddenly I found one of her breasts on my plate. I looked up at her, terrified. She barely noticed, regained her composure, and left. One especially quick reporter took a picture of the scene, and the image went around the world.
5) Answer: b) False. Mansfield was no dummy. She supposedly possessed an 163 I.Q. and could speak foreign languages.
6) Answer: a) Anne Baxter.
7) Answer: a) True. Mansfield posed nude for Playboy at least twice.
8) Answer: Jayne Mansfield, who starred in both the 1955 stage version and 1957 film adaptation of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter.
9) Answer: b) Mansfield’s friend and sister sexpot, Mamie Van Doren.
10) Answer: Actress Mariska Hargitay, Mansfield’s fourth offspring courtesy of second husband, Mickey Hargitay.