April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967
“If you’re going to do something wrong, do it big, because the punishment is the same either way.”
Publicity whores don’t get any better than Jayne. She was tops at it. She would hold a press conference for a fart. I love her. She was born Vera Jane Palmer in Bryn Mawr, Pa, in 1933. She went on to become a Ma girl. Marilyn, Mamie (Van Whoran) and Mansfield. I’m sure there are more, but you get the idea. They were practically cut from the same cloth. What they went on to become was something very individual.
Jayne lived in a house located at 10100 Sunset Boulevard, in Beverly Hills.
The house was built for Rudy Vallee, and Jayne and her then husband Mickey Hargitay had it painted pink, because Jayne was obsessed with pink. It has a heart shaped swimming pool, which used to have “I love you Jaynie” in mosaic on the floor of it.
The old front gates still boast her initials.
Since 1976, Englebert Humperdinck has lived there. He claims to have seen Jayne’s ghost in the house. I have no time for that. A couple of years ago he was supposed to be selling the house on QVC, but I think it fell through. Meanwhile, we quando quando away.
Sadly, early in November 2002, the famous house on Sunset was demolished. Engelbert finally got rid of it, and some jerk tore it down. Luckily, before it was completely gone, it was a rainy weekend and my friend Steve and I decided to go on a little creepy crawl in Beverly Hills. Here are the results. These photographs are amazing.
About two years ago, Frankie had the opportunity to see the inside of the house, and document some of it for us, in photographs. We are so very grateful, Frank. Thank you.
Here is Jayne’s Christmas Card circa 1963 – while she was pregnant with Mariska.
At the end of her life, Jayne had already divorced Mickey Hargitay, with whom she had three children, Mickey Jr, Zoltan and Mariska. Her career had hit the skids, and she was performing in night-clubs, and getting to and from gigs by car.
On the evening of June 28th, 1967, Jayne had a show in Biloxi Mississippi, in a club called the Gus Stevens Supper Club.
Death Hag Diane Culpepper sends us this advertisement for Jayne’s show.
Excellent work, Diane!
Jayne was performing twice a night, at 9 and 11 p.m. Thanks to Diane, we have a recap of Jayne’s last show.
UPDATED June 2012
After her gig, Jayne packed her suitcase. A pink Samsonite. Ask me how I know. Yep. Thanks, Frankie. You’re the best.
She and her companion and attorney Sam Brody, and the three little Hargitays left in the 1966 Buick Electra (owned by Gus Stevens himself), driven by Ronnie Harrison, who was only 20 years old. Think he kept his eye on the road? Naw. The group was heading to New Orleans, so Jayne could do a television show the next day. Got to plug the act! It must have been very late when they went on their way. The interview was to take place in the WDSU-TV studios.
When in New Orleans, Jayne had reservations at the Roosevelt Hotel, now the Fairmont.
The following pictures were donated by Findadeath.com friend Cole Howard. Thanks Cole. Kurt Cobain and Jayne? You are our hero!
On their route, they passed a waterway called the Rigolets, then proceeded to travel down a “winding, narrow stretch of the two-lane route known as the Old Spanish Trail, US90.”
At about 2:25 a.m. they passed over this bridge,
then passed through this curve in the road.
What’s that? An insecticide truck? Whoops. Blam.
There they go. Killed Brody, killed Ronnie and killed Jaynie. The car plowed underneath the truck which was spraying chemicals, thus making it very foggy. The impact sheared the top of the car off. The car was described once as, “crumpled like a piece of tinfoil after a cookout.” The kids made it out okay, because they were asleep in the back, but the top part of Jayne’s head was ripped off. This does not mean decapitation. The death certificate reads “crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain.” The dictionary definition of avulsion is the forcible tearing away of a body part by trauma or surgery. So it was just the top of her head, if you want to get anal. Scalped. And she was wearing a wig, so that hair picture you usually see wasn’t her head. I’ve had people tell me that they’ve seen Jayne’s decapitated head in a photograph, but not one single person has been able to produce the goods.
Here is Jayne. (Warning! Dead Pics!) Dead.
The kids were taken to Charity Hospital in New Orleans,
and later transferred to the Ochsner Foundation hospital, because their father, Mickey, demanded it.
Mickey Jr. had cuts, bruises and a broken arm. Zoltan and Marie had cuts and bruises. The driver of the bug truck hopped out, flagged down a passing motorist who took the kids the rest of their journey to New Orleans, to a hospital, but he left what was left of the others for the body bag man.
Jayne was 34 years old. Brody was 40.
January 2002, Findadeath.com friend Joanna Campbell writes in: Just a tiny bit of info on the death cert. “Closed fractures of right humerus” this is a very common injury in car accidents, it happens when people’s reaction is to put their hand out to stop them from flying forward in the car. I bet if you saw Ronnie’s death cert, it would say he had a broken right ankle. Most drivers in car accidents have them from the impact of slamming the brakes and the car stopping on impact. Thanks, Joanna.
January 30, 2002: Joanna Campbell also forked out the dough, and provided us with two new car shots. This is the car,
shortly after the accident, and here’s another shot,
with a bit of Jayne’s DNA dripping down the side. Gruesome, and yet fascinating, for sure. They were supposedly taken by some tourists, a day or so after the accident. Check ’em out, and big time thank you to Joanna!
There was a memorial service for Jayne held in Beverly Hills, and her body was then shipped back to Penn Argyl (pronounced Ar-Jull) Pennsylvania, to be buried. Her casket was covered in pink roses, and Mickey Hargitay blew a gasket and freaked all over it, at her funeral. Poor guy.
January 2002: Findadeath.com friend Gregory in Montreal sends this scan of an original newspaper clipping from when Jayne’s casket was shipped back to PA for the funeral.
Jayne’s fan club had a cenotaph (memorial tablet) put in at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, in Hollywood California. I’m sure Jayne would have approved.
See her grave and cenotaph
Mickey Hargitay is still alive, and owns a plant shop in Hollywood.
Or is it the Jr? I don’t know, but when I passed it a couple of months ago, I popped in and snapped this pic, just so you could get an idea of what it looks like in there.
They have a website here. (thanks John)
My mate Steve Goldstein of beneathlosangeles.com sends this in:
I believe the flower shop is Mickey, Jr’s place. And here’s a bit of trivia: I happen to be good friends with Sam Brody’s daughter, Liz, who was only three when her father was killed. Looks just like him, too. Anyway, she and Mariska ended up becoming pals while attending UCLA together. I always found that interesting.
It is. Thanks Steve.
There are those that say Jayne was involved with the Church of Satan ran by Anton LaVey and her death was a result of a curse he put on her. Whatever.
A Findadeath.com friend sends us this:
I believe from all accounts Jayne’s association with La Vey was clearly publicity, he was very hot at the time and she knew that, so she used it. They’re were rumors of an affair with Jayne but that cannot be proven, after Jayne’s death La Vey used his story of the curse to gain validity, it’s bullshit and so was he. She did some photo shoots with him, but that was it, she never stopped going to church nor practiced black magic, she never even read the satanic bible he gave her, Jayne is in heaven where she deserves to be, if there is such a place!
Frank Findadeath.com friend Frankie sends us this pic of Jayne and family, with Mr. LaVey.
Mariska Hargitay is now on the show Law and Order, and supposedly people are FORBIDDEN to ask her about her mother, even though almost all of her fan mail is about Jayne. On the other hand, I’ve read where Mariska doesn’t mind at all being the daughter of Jayne. “I consider it an honor to be Jayne Mansfield’s daughter,” she supposedly said once. Good for her. Still, it’s got to be bizarre.
For a long time, the car was on display in a museum called the Tragedy in U.S. History Museum, in St. Augustine, FL. Some eccentric guy named Buddy Hough bought all this weird crap and charged people to look at it. Cool. I do regret never seeing it. When he died in 1996, his bitch wife auctioned off all the stuff, so god knows where it is now. Wish I had it.
UPDATE – AUGUST 2001
So, here I am happily typing away at emails, when I get one from a man named Ed Tucker. Ed is a Jayne fan and visited the car when it was still housed in the Tragedy in U.S. History Museum.
He sends this picture of the car, taken through glass.
Then he sends this picture of the interior.
But that’s not all. Imagine how excited I got when a week or so later, this came in the mail.
Yes, those are actual pieces of the upholstery from the Jayne Mansfield death car. Ed donated those pictures in memory of his friend Dennis Reiter. Dennis was a Jaynephile in a big way. He even owned a 66 Buick Electra, same color as the one Jayne died in. That is what I call devotion.
Ed, I tip my Findadeath hat to you. Thank you for making me one very happy person.
A Findadeath recollection from friend Mark Childrey from North Carolina: When I was a kid in the early 1970’s here in North Carolina, there used to be this traveling trailer that went from town to town, and it allegedly displayed the vehicle that Jayne Mansfield died in. It was one of those hokey shows, complete with this huge trailer, large pictures of Jayne outside, and of course, a tape that played over and over again telling the horrible story of Jayne’s early demise (like they do at those stale carnival side shows). Chiller! When you paid the admission, you could go into the trailer and see the car (behind glass of course). The car was huge, and the top was completely ripped off. Scattered around were these photos of the actual crash, but I do not recall any pictures of the directory Jayne (remember, these were the early 70’s).
Anyway, thought I would share my memories of that traveling show. Maybe that traveling show was owned by Buddy Hough. I really don’t know.”
Findadeath.com friend Warren Beath sends this information: Stuntman Bill Hickman, who did the driving in French Connection and Bullett, told me that Jayne’s death was inspiration for a “gag” he devised for the film “Seven Ups” where Roy Scheider drives his car under the trailer of a big rig parked on the road side. Gives you goosebumps now, when you watch it, knowing that.
Jayne was not decapitated, she was decaptivated.
This just in, March 2003, from Findadeath friend Pauline Palmer:
Hi , Scott!!! I share a afficionado for poor Jayne. But to add some more trivia:
Jayne was divorced from Mickey in Mexico before her death. She then supposedly married a guy named Matt Cimber. After Jayne went to her great reward, Mickey and Matt fought over the kids, fought over her estate, and over her Pink Palace. Turns out, Vera (her Mom) got most of it, and it wasn’t much. She died near broke.
I had read this in a book titled “Jayne Mansfield and the American Fifties”.
Hope this helps!!
Thanks for the info, Pauline!
July 2003, this just in:
Scott, as a life long Jayne Mansfield fan, I really appreciate the updates and pictures regarding her death. Sometimes we just don’t understand the impact the death of one person affects the lives of others. The Sun Herald Newspaper in Biloxi, MS ran several articles in June or July of 2000, about the death of Ronnie Harrison, the boy who was driving the car the night Jayne was killed. According to the paper, Ronnie had gotten Gus Stevens’ daughter Elaine pregnant. They had gotten a blood test and were going to elope that weekend. Elaine buried him with his wedding ring on and thought she would have their child forever, however, when Gus Stevens found out that she was pregnant, he was outraged !! Not only was his daughter pregnant and unwed (this was the 60’s), but he didn’t approve of Ronnie to begin with because he wasn’t Greek. He sent his poor daughter off to a Home for Unwed Mothers, and made her give the baby up for adoption. It took Elaine over 30 years to find her baby girl. It ended well, Elaine has her own production company in California and the baby is a chemist who makes vitamin pills. They were reunited in 2000. So you see, Jayne’s death also changed history for another family as well. You can pull up the articles on line. Keep up the good work!! Love your site!! Pattiicatt
This just in, January 2004, from Findadeath friend Athena:
I just had to email you (hope you get a chance to see this) to say that your site has become a “family” event! I called my dad once I found your site (couple weeks ago) and he’s hooked. I finally got my mom to your site and had to make her stop “just” clicking the pictures and actually read the stories. She’s now addicted. We three have nightly chats peppered with lots of laughs while reading through your directory (they live in Detroit and I’m in Boston).
A possible note to add to your Jane Mansfield mini-novella: My mother was married to a man in the 1950’s/1960’s that managed a major hotel in Milwaukee (guess she was a frequent guest). He told her that Jayne was “dirty.” She walked around without shoes and her toenails needed “a good cleaning.” Also, he said she smelled like strong “B.O.” Don’t know if it’s true, but that’s the story Mom had to share about Jayne.
Can’t wait for the next installments to the directory.
Best wishes –
Athena (last name withheld)
Thanks for the info, Athena!
UPDATE February 2005, from Findadeath friend Sam:
Just wanted to set the record straight:
Jayne Mansfield’s daughter, Mariska Hargitay, plays Det. Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SPECIAL VICTIM’S UNIT. a.k.a. “Law & Order: SVU”
Mariska also recently appeared in an episode with her father for the first time (Season 5, Episode name: “Control”) which aired 11/18/03. This episode also starred Jacqueline Bisset. Mickey Hargitay was did not have top billing, but was listed in the opening and closing credits.
Mariska is a very sweet and kind person. She chats with the non-union background actors – even gave the name of her hairdresser to one star struck extra, (it was this extras first day on the set) who asked her about her hair in between takes. Before the 2nd A.D. could stop the girl from approaching Mariska, Mariska jumped right into the conversation, even grapping one of the prop pad’s of paper off of the defense court table, so she could write down the name and address of her hair dresser, then gave her the address of her colorist. Mariska then thanked her for the compliment. Mariska is always happy to talk and joke with background actors on the set until they yell “Rolling! Rolling! Quiet Please!”
The reason she does not want anyone on the to ask her about her mother on set is because it emotionally hurts her, and will ruin her ability to focus on those long days when they shoot. Considering the circumstances under which her mother died, it would be cruel to ask her about it, right before they are about to shoot a scene and she is supposed to be in character. Remember, she’s human too.
UPDATE March 2005, from an anonymous Findadeath friend:
My cousin and I were discussing the Jayne Mansfield accident, which resulted in the Hollywood Screen Actors Guild and the Louisiana State Police ( a strange political affiliation) successfully lobbying Congress for the “Block Bar” which was legislated in 1967 to be installed on all semi trailers to prevent cars from running up under the back of them. We grew up in the wrecker business in Orlando Florida in the 1960s and worked several similar accidents to that which you show in the pictures. We even operated the same type Holmes wrecker equipment displayed in them.
I thought it might be worth sending you a e-mail to tell you some things about the pictures which you may not realize. First the pictures are not of the accident as it “rested” or “stopped”. The car would have been jammed firmly under the trailer. They are after the wreckers either pulled the semi forward (probably not the case) off the car or the car backwards usually by lifting the back of the car and pulling it rearwards while a second wrecker winches sideways simultaneously to break them apart (probably the case since the booms of the second wrecker are clearly visible backed to the side of where the car would have stopped). Next the right front passenger door has been opened by a Holmes rescue tool (marks clearly visible) and the Mansfield body probably extricated that way.
Our experience is that if the body came out between the trailer rear end and the top of the car wreckage (not the top of the car; the space between the hood, windshield and top as it folded back) it would have been in much worse shape than that which is shown in the pictures. We affectionately refer to these as “meat grinder wrecks” for obvious reasons.
Here is a more likely scenario: The wrecks happens with the vehicles lodged together. Bug truck driver sees kids are alive and can get rear door open and get them out and takes them to hospital. Somebody calls local sheriff’s office or LSP.
The S.O. calls the LSP and simultaneously calls the local ambulance company and wrecker company. The LSP confirms that the ambulance and wrecker is on the way and sends a trooper. The wrecker company would have received a 10-18 call (trapped in wreckage). My guess would be hearing it was a semi truck whichever called two:
a little wrecker and a big wrecker. In the days before the rescue squads and fire trucks everywhere the ambulance company (probably operated by the local funeral home) and the wrecker companies worked closely together. Once the call comes in its a question of proximity as to who gets there first, the law enforcement, ambulance, wrecker, etc. Everybody knew what their job was.
Immediately upon getting to the scene the wrecker would hook to a door or whatever necessary so that the ambulance crew could verify that all the victims were indeed dead. Pictures can be deceiving and scalp and facial wounds can be “bloody as stuck pigs”. More than one “obviously dead” bloody guy is just knocked out and may be alive and until you can check for pulse you do not know. SO whatever wrecker tore the right passenger door open upon arrival since that seemed to be the easy access route. Ergo the pictures show the door bent outward at the rear which is how the Holmes tool hooks to the door and rips it apart. My guess would be the body came out at that point and you had access to the other two bodies. Once they were confirmed dead – everything stops for the coroner and the LSPs accident investigation.
One of the troopers priorities is get the bodies out of there and so he orders the vehicles torn apart and the bodies out. That’s when the vehicles are separated. Then they are pulled apart, and before the bodies are removed pictures are taken with them “in place”. These are the pictures that you have. After that is done the body bags are brought from the ambulance and the bodies and pieces put into them. If more extrication work is required it is done until the bodies can be removed.
And for the record about two or three days after an accident like that unless it is very cold you can not get within 50 feet of a car because of the stench. I think if you chase down the wrecker operator and ask you will find I am correct.
Thanks for the info!
My pal Donna Lethal sends this:
During the 1960s, the actress Jayne Mansfield was killed in a gruesome accident when the car in which she was riding rear-ended a slow moving truck in the fog.
Her car went under the back of the truck. Accounts differ–some say she was beheaded by the impact, others that the impact scalped her, and others say that her wig was knocked off by the impact.
Whatever the details of the wreck. regulations were enacted to add a low bar at the rear of truck trailers, to prevent a car from running underneath the trailer from behind.
Jayne’s tragic death has left a legacy of improved safety equipment.
Many thanks to Death Hags Frankie Ramos and Diane Culpepper for the legwork added to this story today. You guys make this fun.
The View from the pool to the house – before and after.
July 2011 Billy Bob Thornton is currently making a film called Jayne Mansfield’s Car – Findadeath friend Ben Twain was able to get these great snaps of the car made up for the film. This is NOT the real deal, but it looks great! Time travel, please.