Chasing a pin-up's legacy in the Poconos
Chronology of a Cultural Icon
1936: Her father Herbert Palmer dies. Vera Jane and her mother Vera move to Pen Argyl, Pa.
1939: Vera Palmer and her new husband Harry Peers move the family to Dallas, Texas.
1950: Vera Jane gets pregnant and marries Paul Mansfield. Jayne-Marie Mansfield is born.
1952: Jayne, Paul and Jayne-Marie move to Hollywood, Calif. Jayne wins a leading role in The Female Jungle and thinks up some wild publicity stunts to keep herself in the public eye, like delivering bottles of liquor to the National Press Association in a bikini. Jayne and Paul Mansfield part ways. She keeps his name because she thinks it sounds good.
1955: Jayne Mansfield scores roles in Pete Kelly's Blues, Hell on Frisco Bay and Illegal, in which she sings and mimics Marilyn Monroe's part in Asphalt Jungle. She appears in her first Playboy spread. (She then appears in the magazine every February until 1963.) She also takes the part of Rita Marlowe on Broadway in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
1956: Mansfield meets future husband Mickey Hargitay at a restaurant. Says to the waiter: "I'll have a steak and that man on the right." 20th Century Fox buys the rights to Rock Hunter on Broadway and shuts the show down to compel Mansfield to come back to Hollywood. It also releases Mansfield's musical comedy vehicle The Girl Can't Help It, with performances by Little Richard, Abbey Lincoln, Gene Vincent and others.
1957: Mansfield appears in the Steinbeck adaptation The Wayward Bus with Joan Collins, Kiss Them for Me with Cary Grant and Suzy Parker, The Burglar (shot partly in Philadelphia) and the screen version of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? with Tony Randall and Joan Blondell. (Hargitay plays her on-screen boyfriend.)
|Copyright Frank Ferruccio|
1960: The Loves of Hercules, co-starring Hargitay, is released, as is Too Hot to Handle. Zoltan Anthony is born. The family appears on This Is Your Life.
1961: Mansfield co-stars in The George Raft Story.
1962: Mansfield stars in It Happened in Athens, and she and Hargitay do a show together that's released as a record, Jayne Mansfield Busts up Las Vegas.
1963: Mansfield does the first nude scene in a mainstream American movie in Promises! Promises! Stills from the movie run in Playboy magazine and prompt Hugh Hefner's arrest on indecency charges. Jayne also appears in Homesick for St. Pauli.
1964: Mariska Magdolna Hargitay (pictured) is born. Mansfield films an episode of the TV show Burke's Law, does a summer stock production of Bus Stop, appears in the films L'Amor Primitivo, Dog Eat Dog! and Panic Button, and tours in a theatrical version of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
1966: Mansfield stars in The Fat Spy with Phyllis Diller, and has a cameo in Las Vegas Hillbillys with Mamie Van Doren. She gives birth to her fifth child Antonio. She plays to a sold-out house at New York's Latin Quarter club for two months.
1967: Mansfield has a cameo in A Guide for the Married Man starring Walter Matthau. She dies in a car crash later that year in Slidell, La.
1968: The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield and Single Room Furnished are released posthumously. (L.S.)
PW's Summer Guide 2015