Jane Palmer Biography & Facts
Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer; April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967) was an American actress, singer, nightclub entertainer, and Playboy Playmate. A sex symbol of the 1950s and early 1960s while under contract at 20th Century Fox, Mansfield was known for her well-publicized personal life and publicity stunts. Her film career was short-lived, but she had several box-office successes and won a Theatre World Award and a Golden Globe Award.
Mansfield enjoyed success in the role of fictional actress Rita Marlowe in the Broadway play Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1955–1956), which she reprised in the film adaptation of the same name (1957). Her other film roles include the musical comedy The Girl Can't Help It (1956), the drama The Wayward Bus (1957), the neo-noir Too Hot to Handle (1960), and the sex comedy Promises! Promises! (1963); the latter established Mansfield as the first major American actress to perform in a nude scene in a post-silent era film.
Mansfield took her professional name from her first husband, public relations professional Paul Mansfield. She married three times, each marriage ending in divorce, and had five children. She was allegedly intimately involved with numerous men, including Robert and John F. Kennedy, her attorney Samuel S. Brody, and Las Vegas entertainer Nelson Sardelli. On June 29, 1967, she died in an automobile crash in New Orleans at the age of 34.
Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania the only child of Herbert William Palmer, of English and German ancestry, and Vera Jeffrey (née Palmer) Palmer, of English and Cornish descent. She inherited more than $90,000 from her maternal grandfather, Thomas ($850,000 in 2021 dollars), and more than $36,000 from her maternal grandmother, Beatrice Mary Palmer, in 1958 ($340,000 in 2021 dollars).Palmer spent her early childhood in Phillipsburg, New Jersey, where her father was an attorney practicing with future New Jersey governor Robert B. Meyner. In 1936, her father died of a heart attack. In 1939, Palmer's mother married sales engineer Harry Lawrence Peers and the family moved to Dallas, Texas, where she was known as Vera Jayne Peers. As a child, she wanted to be a Hollywood star like Shirley Temple. At age 12, Palmer took ballroom dance lessons. She graduated from Highland Park High School in 1950. While in high school, Palmer took violin, piano, and viola lessons. She also studied Spanish and German. Palmer received grades in the high Bs in all subjects consistently.At age 19, she married Paul Mansfield on May 6, 1950. Their daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield, was born six months later, on November 8, 1950. Jayne and her husband enrolled in Southern Methodist University to study acting. In 1951, Jayne moved to Los Angeles and attended a summer semester at UCLA. She entered the Miss California contest but Paul found out and forced her to withdraw from the competition. She then moved to Austin, Texas, with her husband, and studied dramatics at the University of Texas at Austin. There, Mansfield worked as a nude art model, sold books door-to-door, and worked as a receptionist at a dance studio. She also joined the Curtain Club, a campus theatrical society that included lyricist Tom Jones, composer Harvey Schmidt, and actors Rip Torn and Pat Hingle among its members. Mansfield then spent a year at Camp Gordon, Georgia (a US Army training facility), when Paul Mansfield served in the United States Army Reserve in the Korean War.
In 1953, she moved back to Dallas and studied acting for several months under Baruch Lumet, the father of director Sidney Lumet and founder of the Dallas Institute of Performing Arts. Lumet gave Mansfield private lessons and called Mansfield and Rip Torn his "kids". Eventually, Lumet helped Jayne get her first screen test at Paramount in April 1954. Paul, Jayne, and Jayne Marie moved to Los Angeles in 1954. Jayne worked at a variety of odd jobs including: selling popcorn at the Stanley Warner Theatre, teaching dance, selling candy at a movie theater, modeling part-time at the Blue Book Model Agency, and working as a photographer at Esther Williams' Trails Restaurant.
While attending the University of Texas at Austin, Mansfield won several beauty contests, including Miss Photoflash, Miss Magnesium Lamp, and Miss Fire Prevention Week. By her own account, the only title she refused was Miss Roquefort Cheese, because she believed it "just didn't sound right". Jayne later also rejected "Miss Prime Rib" in 1957. In 1952, while in Dallas, she and Paul Mansfield participated in small local-theater productions of The Slaves of Demon Rum and Ten Nights in a Barroom, and Anything Goes in Camp Gordon, Georgia. After he left for military service, she made her first significant stage appearance in a production of Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman on October 22, 1953, with the players of the Knox Street Theater, headed by Lumet. While at UCLA, she entered the Miss California contest (hiding her marital status), and won the local round before withdrawing.Early in her career, some advertisers considered her prominent breasts undesirable, which led to her losing her first professional assignment – a commercial for General Electric that depicted young women in bathing suits relaxing around a pool. Emmeline Snively, head of the Blue Book Model Agency, had sent her to photographer Gene Lester, which led to her short-lived assignment in the General Electric commercial. In 1954, she auditioned at both Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. At Paramount, Jayne performed a sketch she had worked out with Lumet from Joan of Arc for casting director Milton Lewis. Lewis informed her that she was wasting her "obvious talents" and had her come back a week later to perform the piano scene from The Seven Year Itch. Jayne failed to impress but learned she would have to go blonde. She then performed the piano scene for Warner Brothers, but, again, failed to impress. She landed her first acting assignment in Lux Video Theatre, a series on CBS in the episode "An Angel Went AWOL", aired on October 21, 1954. In it, she sat at a piano and delivered a few lines of dialogue for $300 ($3,000 in 2021 dollars).In December 1953, Hugh Hefner began publishing Playboy. The magazine became a success, in part, because of early appearances from Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe, Bettie Page, and Anita Ekberg. In February 1955, Mansfield was the Playboy Playmate of the Month, and appeared in the magazine several times. Her February appearance increased the magazine's circulation and helped boost Mansfield's career. Shortly afterward, she posed for the Playboy calendar, covering her breasts with her hands. Playboy featured Mansfield each February from 1955 to 1958, and again in 1960.In August 1956, Paul Mansfield sought custody of his daughter, alleging that Jayne was an unfit mother because she appeared nude in Playboy. In 1964, the magazine re.... Discover the Jane Palmer popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Jane Palmer books.