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- Vera Jayne Palmer
- Bryn Mawr Pennsylvania USA
- United States
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Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Her parents were well to do, with Mr. Palmer a successful attorney in Phillipburg, New Jersey, where Jayne was beginning her girlhood. Tragedy struck when Jayne was three when her father suddenly died of a heart attack. Three years later, her mother remarried and the family moved south to Dallas, Texas.
Up until the move, Jayne had no aspirations of being a star, but with maturity and the fact that she devoured the fan magazines of the day convinced her to try acting. Jayne's plans had to be put on hold when she became pregnant by Paul Mansfield who she married in May of 1950. Her daughter was born in November. After graduation and the birth of her daughter, Jayne enrolled in the University of Texas at Austin to try her hand at thespian work.
After some productions there and elsewhere, Jayne decided to go to Hollywood. Her first film was a bit role as a cigarette girl in Pete Kelly's Blues (1955). Although the roles in the beginning weren't much, she was successful in gaining those roles because of her ample physical attributes which placed her in two other films that year, Hell on Frisco Bay (1955) and Illegal (1955). Her breakout role came the next year with a featured part in The Burglar (1957). By the time she portrayed Rita Marlowe in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) and Too Hot to Handle (1960), Jayne was now known as the poor man's Marilyn Monroe. She didn't get the plum roles that Marilyn got in her productions. Instead Jayne got roles that was more of a showcase for her body more than anything else. Jayne did have a real talent for acting, but the movie executives insisted she stay in her dumb blonde stereotype roles.
For the balance of her career, Jayne never received any standout performances although she was more than capable of doing them. On June 29, 1967, Jayne was killed when the car in which she was riding crashed into the back of a semi on the road near Slidell, Louisiana. Her lawyer Sam Brody also perished in the accident. The beautiful woman who starred in only 25 films, the woman who fought so hard for respectability, the woman who, in her own right, was a very good actress was dead at the age of 34. Her final film, Single Room Furnished (1968) was released the following year.