Jayne Mansfield

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At a memorial rite held at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills, California, on Thursday, July 6, 1967, one of three people who eulogized Jayne Mansfield said, “It is really too bad people couldn’t know Jayne for the wonderful woman she was, rather than the sexpot she portrayed.”

The content of this remark is not surprising because not more than a year before, the Reverend Billy Graham was quoted in a Michigan newspaper saying, “This country knows more about Jayne Mansfield’s statistics than they know about the second commandment.” [The second commandment of course is to have no graven images.]

Two hundred mourners were present at that gathering. Mickey Hargitay and Matt Cimbar, Mansfield’s second and third husbands were among them, but none of her five children were able to attend.


Vera Jayne Palmer was born on April 19, 1933, in the small Philadelphia suburb of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. The Palmer family had strong ties in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey since Vera’s father was a law partner of future New Jersey governor Robert Meyner.

Herbert William Palmer died at age 31, from a heart attack when Vera Jayne was three years old. In 1939 her mother married a machinery salesman from Texas and the family moved from Phillipsburg, N.J. to Dallas, where Vera was known as Vera Jayne Peers.

The 1950 Highland High School yearbook shows Vera Jayne Peers, whose friends called her “Honey.” Her credits included her membership in the school orchestra (few know that she was an accomplished, classically trained violinist), the Hi-Lites Club, and the Riding Club. [Photo credit: The Highlanders (Highland High School yearbook, 1950.]

Very early in life Vera had an enthusiasm for the performing arts and realized her dream by entering (and often, winning) beauty pageants. After completing the dramatic arts curriculum at the University of Texas, she ventured into acting, and subsequently moved to Los Angeles to pursue her Hollywood dreams.

The Mansfield story really developed in the 1950s. Her career was marked by minor roles in films and television, where she often portrayed the blonde bombshell. However, she enjoyed a breakthrough performance in the Broadway production of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? that propelled her to stardom.

There were several appearances on stage and in nightclubs before 1955, but then came her Playboy centerfold appearance in February 1955.

Then there was film. The published Jayne Mansfield Filmography lists 25 titles – two of which were posthumous releases. In 1963 Jayne starred in Promises Promises! with Tommy Noonan. Noonan was also a coproducer and it was he who convinced Mansfield to become the first mainstream American actress to appear nude in a starring role.

Sadly, Mansfield’s decision changed very little – after more than a decade most of America had seen all of Mansfield they wanted, and it was the Chicago Sun-Times movie critic Roger Ebert who wrote, “… in Promises, Promises! she did what no Hollywood actress ever does except in desperation: she made a nudie, and that kind of box office appeal was about all she had left.”

There were many “ups” and “downs” in her life: events that kept her in the tabloids week-after-week, including her marriages, divorces, and the births of her five children.

Some very forgettable roles on Broadway and on film and then came June 1967. Mansfield was in Biloxi, Mississippi, for a show at the Gus Stevens Supper Club. After midnight, Mansfield, her attorney and then significant other, Sam Brody, a driver for the Gus Stevens Supper Club named Ronald B. Harrison, three of her children, Miklós, Zoltán, and Mariska, and her four Chihuahua dogs left Biloxi in a 1966 Buick owned by Harrison. They were headed to New Orleans where Mansfield was to appear on a television program the following day.

At about 2:25 AM on June 29th along U.S. Route 90, almost to New Orleans, Harrison was driving about 60 miles-per-hour when he came upon a dark stretch of road, just as a truck in front of him was approaching a machine emitting a thick white fog used to spray for mosquitoes. The ensuing investigation suggested that the fog obscured Harrison’s view and his Buick hit the trailer-truck from behind. Mansfield, Harrison, and Brody were all killed in the accident. Eight-year-old Mickey, six-year-old Zoltan and three-year-old Mariska had apparently been sleeping on the rear seat; they were injured but survived.


In retrospect the eulogy heard on that June night in 1967 was probably a much more accurate description than was Hollywood’s version, in which Mansfield arrived in Hollywood as a young mother with hopes and dreams of a screen career. Sadly, that career amounted to much more of what the Hollywood executives wanted than what Jayne Mansfield wanted. Jayne played her off screen role of movie star to perfection, but again, her image was carefully crafted to embody the epitome of sensuality and it made her one of the most visible glamour girls of the era.

Jayne Mansfield’s life was a fascinating tapestry of triumphs and tribulations. When she returned to Pennsylvania on Saturday July 1, 1967, she was in a copper coffin that would be buried in her family’s plot in Pen Argyl – about 70 miles north of Philadelphia. From her humble beginnings to her ascent to stardom, she navigated the complexities of fame with resilience and grace.


Jayne Mansfield postcards are very collectible among those who search for Hollywood personalities. Currently there are two known sets: a signature series and the Swiftsure Postcards Film Stars series, 2000.

From the signature series, these examples are the most popular:

Swiftsure Postcards Film Stars series, 2000.


Dear Readers,

On this very day five years ago, May 30, 2019, Postcard History, this online magazine devoted to history found on postcards was launched with an article that was substantially about Jayne Mansfield and the car-truck accident that caused her death on June 29, 1967.

To date we have presented 935 articles with postcard illustrations on topics from A to Z, but this is the first intentional duplication of a topic. We hope you have enjoyed reading the articles and hope you will continue to support our efforts to preserve history through one of mankind’s most popular inventions – the postcard.

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Good to know all of that

Jayne’s first husband was Paul Mansfield. Her second spouse, Mickey Hargitay, was known as a bodybuilder, and had previously competed in soccer and speed skating. Mickey is credited as being the inspiration for making weightlifting a basic part of athletic training after most coaches had stigmatized it as being likely to make their charges too “muscle-bound”.

Jayne’s daughter Mariska is the star of Law and Order SVU.

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