It is falsely believed that Jayne Mansfield died when she was decapitated in a fatal car accident in June 1967, but the truth is even more horrific and much sadder.
Like her rival, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield died tragically young, leaving a trail of rumors in her wake.
On June 29, 1967, at around 2 am, a car carrying Jane Mansfield and three of her children, including actress Mariska Hargitay, slammed into the back of a truck on a dark Louisiana road. The impact severed the top of Mansfield's car, instantly killing all three adults in the front seat. Miraculously, the children sleeping in the back seat survived.
Arquivo Keystone/Hulton/Getty ImagesThe aftermath of the car accident that killed Jayne Mansfield.
The shocking accident quickly gave rise to gossip about the beheading and the diabolical curses that still linger today. However, the truth behind Jayne Mansfield's death is more shocking and even sadder than any rumor could imagine.
Who was Jayne Mansfield?
In the 1950s, Jayne Mansfield rose to stardom as a cartoonishly sexy alternative to Marilyn Monroe. Born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, Mansfield arrived in Hollywood just 21 years old, already a wife and mother.
Allan Grant/The LIFE Image Collection via Getty ImagesJayne Mansfield relaxes on an inflatable raft in a pool surrounded by bottles shaped like bikini-clad versions of herself, Los Angeles, California, 1957.
Mansfield starred in films such as 1960Too hot to handleyear 1956The girl can't help it🇧🇷 But the actress was best known for her off-screen persona, where she accentuated her curves and sold herself as a more mischievous version of Monroe.
Hollywood reporter Lawrence J. Quirk oncerequestMonroe on Jayne Mansfield. "All she does is imitate me," complained Monroe, "but imitations of her are an insult to her and me."
Monroe added: "I know it should be flattering to be imitated, but she does it in such a rude and vulgar way that I wish I had some legal way to sue her."
20th Century Fox/Wikimedia CommonsA 1957 promotional photograph for the Mansfield film Kiss Them for Me.
Jayne Mansfield has not avoided the rivalry. In fact, he actively went after John F. Kennedy because of his relationship with Monroe. After hooking the president, Mansfield laughed, "I bet Marilyn is crazy enough to come out!"
In 1958, Mansfield married her second husband, Mickey Hargitay, an actor and bodybuilder. The couple had three children, including Mariska Hargitay, and they starred in several films together.
Mansfield was married and divorced three times and had five children in total. He also had several highly publicized affairs.
Unknown/Wikimedia CommonsJayne Mansfield and her husband, Mickey Hargitay, in costume at the 1956 Ballyhoo Ball.
Mansfield was unashamed of his sex symbol status. she posed forplayboyas a playmate and stated, "I think sex is healthy and there's a lot of guilt and hypocrisy in it."
Their turbulent love life became tabloid fodder, pushing boundaries that other stars of the era would not address. She became famous for exposing her breasts to photographers on the street and was the first American actress to strip naked on screen, baring it all in the 1963 film.promises promises.
He didn't go too far from camp either. Mansfield lived in a pink Hollywood mansion nicknamed thethe pink palace, complete with a heart-shaped pool.
But when news of Marilyn Monroe's sudden death reached Mansfield in 1962, the typically brash actress worried: "Maybe I'm next."
The Fatal Car Crash of June 1967
Five years after Monroe's death, Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident.
In the early morning hours of June 29, 1967, Mansfield left Biloxi, Mississippi, bound for New Orleans. The actress had just performed at a Biloxi nightclub and needed to get to New Orleans for a television appearance scheduled the next day.
On the long journey, Mansfield sat up front with a driver, Ronald B. Harrison, and her boyfriend, Samuel S. Brody. Three of her children slept in the backseat.
Mansfield in 1965 with their five children. From left to right are Jayne Marie Mansfield, 15, Zoltan Hargitay, 5, Mickey Hargitay Jr., 6, an unnamed hospital orderly, Jayne holding baby Anthony, and third husband Matt Cimber with Mariska Hargitay, 1.
Shortly after 2 am. m., the 1966 Buick Electra slammed into the back of a semi-trailer truck, instantly killing everyone in the front seat. Harrison probably didn't see the truck until it was too late because a nearby machine was pumping out a thick mist to kill mosquitoes.
The Death of Jayne Mansfield
After the Buick Electra hit the truck, it slid under the back of the trailer, severing the car's top.
Police rushed to the scene to find all three of the Mansfield children alive in the back seat. The accident instantly killed the three adults in the front seat and also killed Mansfield's dog. Police declared the actress dead at the scene.
Bettmann/fake picturesAnother view of Mansfield's wrecked car after the crash.
When news of the terrible accident became public, rumors spread that the accident had decapitated Jaynes Mansfield.
Photos of Jayne Mansfield's death released after the crash added fuel to the rumours. Her wig had been thrown from the car, which in some photos gave the impression that her head had been severed.
According to police, Mansfield died a gruesome, albeit almost instantaneous, death. Opolice reporttaken after the accident states that "the top of this white woman's head was severed".
Mansfield's death certificate confirms that he suffered a skull crush and partial skull separation, an injury more akin to a full decapitation than a scalping. But the decapitation story continues to repeat itself over and over again, right up to the 1996 film.hatch.
Another rumor followed Mansfield's alleged beheading. Gossip hunters told the star, who was in a relationship with the founder of the Church of Satan.anton lavey, waskilled by a curseLaVey put her boyfriend Brody.
This rumor, of course, has not been proven. But it also persists, thanks in part to a 2017 documentary calledManchester 66/67.
Mariska Hargitay on her mother's legacy
Bettmann/fake pictures1950s studio portrait of Jayne Mansfield.
Mariska Hargitay, who became famous for her role as Olivia Benson inLaw and Order: SVU, survived the car accident that killed his mother. So did two of his brothers: six-year-old Zoltan and eight-year-old Miklos Jr.
Hargitay may have slept through the car accident, but it left a visible memory in the form of a scar on the actress' head. As an adult, Hargitay saidPersonas, “The way I have lived with loss is to lean into it. As the saying goes, the only way out is through.
Instead of trying to avoid the pain of losing her mother, Hargitay says she's learned to "really lean into it, because sooner or later you're going to have to foot the bill."
Mariska Hargitay remembers her mother differently from Mansfield's public image. "My mother was an amazing, beautiful, glamorous sex symbol," Hargitay acknowledges, "but people didn't know she played the violin and had an IQ of 160, five kids and loved dogs."
“She was so ahead of her time. She was an inspiration, she had this zest for life and I think I share that with her," Hargitay said.Personas.
Surprisingly, Jayne Mansfield's death took a huge toll outside of her family and fans. The accident that killed her prompted a change in federal law.
The federal requirement for Mansfield bars
Ildar Sagdejev/Wikimedia CommonsThe rear of modern semi-trailers includes a low bar, known as a Mansfield bar, to prevent cars from sliding under the trailer.
When the Buick carrying Jayne Mansfield slid under the back of a truck, the top of the car was ripped off, but it didn't have to be. The gruesome deaths were preventable, and the federal government stepped in to make sure similar accidents didn't happen in the future.
As a result, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ordered all semi trucks to change their design. After the death of Jayne Mansfield, trailers require a steel bar to prevent cars from going under the truck.
These bars, known as Mansfield Bars, would ensure that no one else would suffer the same tragedy as Jayne Mansfield and her family.
Jayne Mansfield wasn't the only aging Hollywood star to die tragically young. Next, read aboutDeath of Marilyn Monroe, and then learn more about the mysterious circumstances surroundingThe Death of James Dean.