Jayne Mansfield symbolized not so much an era but a side of Hollywood, the exploitative, publicity-grabbing side whose end product is celebrities, not stars.
Mansfield was an ambitious blond who used her startlingly measurements — said to be 40-21-35 — to her full advantage. [In one famous picture Sophia Loren is caught gazing at Mansfield's ample and on-display bosom.] It was often reported that she spoke five languages, although a search of The Times clips turned up no article that said which ones they were.
In a 1956 interview with The Times, Mansfield, who claimed an IQ of 163, advised women to be "as graceful and as beautiful as a kitten ... but never catty."
She also explained her success with the opposite sex.
"You shouldn't compete with men," she observed. "I had a better than B-plus average at the University of Texas but with most men you must conceal your brains."
"They are attracted by a woman who is naive — maybe coy. If you put on an act the average man will see through it, but I think men react favorably to coyness."
She died at age 34 in a horrific late-night car accident on a Mississippi road. Three of her five children were riding in the back seat and escaped injury. Police at the time reported that she had been decapitated when the car she was traveling in hit the back of a truck, although that was later disputed.
Mansfield bought into a particular naive dream of Hollywood stardom and lived it so wholeheartedly that both her personal and public lives had curiously cinematic unreal quality.
Hearts were the motif throughout her pink palace on Sunset and once, giving a tour, she paused at a fountain and said her fondest dream was that the fountain should flow with heart-shaped droplets, but that no technician had been able to figure how to arrange it. There was no doubt she meant it and would have loved it.