Legendary actress and sex symbol Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Jayne spent her early childhood in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, but faced tragedy early in life when her father died in a car crash when she was just three. Her mother later remarried and the family moved to Dallas.
Jayne took lessons in ballroom dancing, violin, piano, and viola as a child, and aspired to be a Hollywood star. She graduated from high school in 1950 and married Paul James Mansfield and welcomed daughter Jayne Marie Mansfield the same year. Jayne and Paul enrolled in Southern Methodist University and later went to the University of Texas in Austin, where Jayne studied drama and also acted in local theater productions.
In 1954, the pair moved to LA. Jane tried to break into modeling, but had problems because her look was too sexy for 50s audiences. In 1955, Jayne and Paul split, and Jayne also began a long relationship with Playboy, posing first in February 1955, then appearing in numerous issues and calendars. The same year, Jayne began to get bit parts in movies like Pete Kelly’s Blues.
Her first starring film role came in 1956’s The Girl Can’t Help It. She went on to a breakthrough role in 1957’s The Burglar. Dozens of films followed including Kiss Them For Me (1957), The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958), and It Takes a Thief (1960). Jayne also appeared on Broadway in Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and later in Bus Stop, and made numerous TV appearances. In the late 50s, she also had a striptease revue at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.
After Jayne had split with Paul, she met and married Mickey Hargitay, an actor and former Mr. Universe. She and Mickey had three children together. But her relationship with Mickey was tumultuous and did not last long. In 1964, Jayne married her third husband, Italian film director Matt Cimber, and together they had one son. But she and Matt split soon after and Jayne went on to a relationship with attorney Sam Brody.
In 1967, she and Sam were driving home from a nightclub performance in Mississippi when they crashed into a semi-truck, killing them both instantly. Jayne was just 34 at the time of her death.