Remembering Real-Life Barbie Doll Jayne Mansfield


Here, in the final installment in a series of three, we take a closer look at the life and times of this year’s amfAR icons. Carine selected Marlene Dietrich, Jayne Mansfield, and Rita Hayworth as the inspiration for her sixth annual amfAR Cinema Against AIDS charity runway show and auction, titled,“The Golden Age of Hollywood.” Our eic in chief will host the epic event at Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc d’Antibes on May 25th and guests can expect to see more than 30 one-of-a-kind dresses and Harry Winston’s finest jewelry light up the runway.

The name Jayne Mansfield is synonymous with glamour and sexuality. In the 1963 film Promises! Promises!, the American star made history when she became the first actress to appear nude in a major motion picture. Long before she bared her breasts on the silver screen, however, she was taking acting classes in Texas and was dreaming of stardom. Her rise to fame was long and rambling, crisscrossing between Los Angeles and her native Dallas. In 1955, she finally got her big break posing in Playboy Magazine. The photoshoot set the tone for the remainder of Manesfield’s brief career, where she would become known as a provocateur, crossing boundaries that Marilyn Monroe hadn’t and wouldn’t.

After some small parts in films and on Broadway, in 1956, Jayne signed a deal with 20th Century Fox, the same studio as Ms. Monroe. Monroe was becoming increasingly difficult to work with and the studio hoped that Mansfield could be cultivated as her blonde bombshell successor. That year, Jayne had her first big success in The Girl Can’t Help It, which billed her as “Marilyn Monroe, but king-sized.” For the remainder of her time in Hollywood, she was typecast as the vapid blonde; pigeonholed into providing comic relief opposite of more ‘serious’ actors.

By 1959, there was already talk of her career being on the decline; she couldn’t get major roles in American films for nearly five years. Until she appeared nude in Promises! Promises!, she was considered completely washed up in Hollywood. To remain in the press, Mansfield would publicize her turbulent love life and was infamous for “accidently” baring her massive breasts to eager photographers on the street.
One of her most well known publicity stunts produced the now iconic photograph of her and Sophia Loren. In the picture, Sophia looks horrified as she peers down at Mansfield’s exposed nipple. Legend has it that Jayne wore a dress that was too small on purpose so that her breasts would fall out whenever she leaned over the table. Though she was at an event to honor Loren, it was Jayne who took the spotlight.

Mansfield’s life was cut short in 1967, when she rear-ended the back of a truck. As the car slid under the truck’s trailer, she was killed instantly. Urban legend has it that she was even decapitated. Her third husband was also killed in the accident, orphaning daughter, Mariska Hargitay who was found in the backseat unharmed. At the time of her death Jayne was only 34. In all, she had five children.

In spite of her short-lived fame, Mansfield went on to become an icon posthumously. Not only did she pioneer openness about sexuality in American culture, she had a flamboyance and signature style that has endured nearly fifty years after her death. She adored the color pink, so much so that she reportedly decorated every inch of her extravagant mansion with it, which she dubbed the “pink palace.” Perhaps she was having premonitions of Barbie’s Malibu dream house; her home even had a massive heart shaped swimming pool in it. She also was the first person to drive a pink Cadillac in Los Angeles.

In light of the world in 2017, it’s easy to track how Mansfield paved the way for celebrities of today. She was one of the first starlets to understand the idea that a celebrity can encompass their lifestyle into a total brand. She was a sex symbol, dressed in baby pink, baring every inch of her body and life in front of the camera.

We’ll be reporting live from Cannes with updates from the red carpet and backstage with all of the cast of supermodels who will help bring next Thursday’s show to life. In the meantime, scroll through for a recap of some of Jayne Mansfield’s most iconic looks.


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