Just as Avis never overtook Hertz. Jayne Mansfield never eclipsed Marilyn Monroe, but she sure was a presence in the 1950s. How much do you know about the blonde sexpot?
Her A-list contemporaries dismissed her as a no-talent, publicity-seeking sexpot. Bette Davis famously remarked that her definition of “dramatic art” was knowing how to fill a sweater.
She died early — at age 34 — in a grisly automobile crash that still fascinates the more ghoulish element of Hollywood savants. Her good looks and her career (comprising some 35 movie and tv credits) are still celebrated by recent generations of fans including at least one rock group and a heavy metal ensemble.
She battled the bottle during much of her career, married three times and mothered five children. I didn’t come to Hollywood to be the girl next door, she pronounced. I came to be a movie star. And for much of the mid-Fifties through the Sixties, she was.
Let’s try our Monday Quiz to find out. As usual, questions today, answers tomorrow.
1) Question: What was Jayne Mansfield’s real name? a) Vera Palmer; b) Emma Matzo; c) Virginia McMath; or d) Betty Perske.
2) Question: Which of Mansfield’s husbands was a bodybuilder who adorned Mae West’s muscleman Las Vegas act? a) Matt Cimber; b) Mickey Hargitay; c) Paul Mansfield; or d) Sam Brody.
3) Question: Which one of the following film noir titles is said to have launched Mansfield’s acting career? a) The Killers; b) The Burglar; c) Nightmare Alley; or d) The Night Runner.
4) Question: Mansfield famously showcased her generous cleavage (see photo above) at a Hollywood soiree scandalizing which one of the following attendees? a) Gene Kelly; b) Barbara Stanwyck; c) Fred Astaire; or d) Sophia Loren.
5) Question: Mansfield played the dumb blonde with such fidelity because she really was dumb, that is, not very intelligent offscreen. a) True; or b) False?
6) Question: Mansfield was signed by 20th Century Fox in order to continue a line of famous female studio actresses with broad box office appeal. Which one of the following does NOT fit that description. a) Anne Baxter; b) Betty Grable; c) Alice Faye; or d) Marilyn Monroe.
7) Question: Mansfield was one of the few big studio actresses of her time to pose nude for Playboy magazine. a) True; or b) False?
8) Question: Mansfield’s 1957 movie, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, was based on a Broadway play by George Axelrod. Who played Mansfield’s role in the original stage version?
9) Question: After substituting for a name female personality at a Biloxi, Mississippi supper club engagement, Mansfield took her last drive (her car careened into the back of a trailer truck some 20 miles outside New Orleans). The question is: who was Mansfield substituting for? a) Diana Dors; b) Mamie Van Doren; c) Marilyn Maxwell; or d) Cleo Moore.
10) Question: Can you name Mansfield’s famous offspring, who has a regular role on the NBC crime drama Law & order: Special Victims Unit?