Jayne Mansfield, a renowned Hollywood actress of the 1950s and 1960s, had a life marked by both glamour and unfortunate circumstances. Born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Mansfield was exposed to the arts from an early age, with her father nurturing her talents in singing and playing the violin. Tragedy struck her life when her father passed away from a heart attack when she was just three years old, leaving her mother, Vera, to support the family.
Despite the challenges she faced, Mansfield dreamt of becoming a Hollywood star. She idolized Judy Garland and even dressed like the renowned actress. At a young age, she met her first husband, Paul Mansfield, and their union led to the birth of their daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield.
Mansfield’s journey to Hollywood was not easy. Casting directors initially saw her voluptuous figure as a hindrance, believing she was too provocative for commercial or advertising roles. However, her career took a turn when she auditioned for Paramount Studios. The head of casting, Milton Lewis, saw potential in her and transformed her image, helping her compete with Marilyn Monroe, the reigning Hollywood star. She became famous for her provocative and pinup image, starring in numerous films and establishing herself as a sex symbol of the 1950s.
In the early 1960s, Mansfield’s Hollywood career began to decline, leading her to explore opportunities beyond the United States. Tragically, in 1967, she lost her life in a car accident while traveling from a nightclub appearance in Mississippi to New Orleans. Mansfield, her boyfriend Sam Brody, and their driver were all killed instantly in the collision. Remarkably, her three children who were in the car, including three-year-old Mariska Hargitay, survived the accident.
Mariska Hargitay, Jayne Mansfield’s daughter, also entered the entertainment industry as an actress. Despite the tragedy of losing her mother at a young age, Mariska found her own path in the world of acting. After studying drama at UCLA, she made her film debut in 1984 and eventually landed her breakthrough role as Olivia Benson in NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” in 1999. Mariska’s portrayal of Olivia Benson has earned her critical acclaim, including an Emmy Award and a Golden Globe.
Mariska has embraced her own identity and resisted pressure to change her appearance or name to mimic her mother. She has created a successful acting career of her own, with her remarkable smile reminding us of her mother’s beauty.
Mariska Hargitay married actor and producer Peter Hermann in 2004, and they now have three children together. Being a wife and mother has brought immense joy to Mariska’s life and helped her understand her own mother in a new light, allowing her to feel closer to the guardian she lost at a young age.
In 2013, the stars of Jayne Mansfield and Mariska Hargitay were placed next to each other on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, symbolizing the reunion of mother and daughter in some ways. Jayne Mansfield’s unforgettable performances will always be remembered, and Mariska Hargitay continues to make her mark in the entertainment industry.