"I don't know why you people like to compare me to Marilyn or that girl, what's her name, Kim Novak. Cleavage, of course, helped me a lot to get where I am. I don't know how they got there." - Jayne Mansfield
A lot of ink has been spilled covering the lives of history's most influential figures, but how much of the forest is lost for the trees? In Charles River Editors' American Legends series, listeners can get caught up to speed on the lives of America's most important men and women in the time it takes to finish a commute, while learning interesting facts long forgotten or never known.
Although she came of age in an era when Hollywood studios were looking for blonde bombshells like Marilyn Monroe, and she followed that path to instant stardom, Jayne Mansfield had one of the most unique Hollywood careers in the 1950s and 1960s. After getting her start on Broadway, Mansfield shot to fame in Hollywood during the late '50s with her platinum blonde hair and picturesque body, and her life became equal parts movie star and celebrity, with her appearances on film more than matched by her appearances in tabloids and Playboy.
Naturally, Mansfield was a rival of Marilyn Monroe who was used by 20th Century Fox to play the same kind of ditzy blonde roles that had made Marilyn one of the biggest stars in America, which had the effect of making her famous but not exactly critically acclaimed. It was an ironic predicament for a woman who had been a Broadway actress, and she struggled to break out of being pigeonholed as a dumb blonde, the kind of stereotype many in her position had struggled with as far back as Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard.