Jayne Mansfield was definitely born to be a star. The moment she appeared on the big screen, millions fell for her charm and distinctive looks. She was promoted at the time as the “Marilyn Monroe King-Size,” and her provocative figure turned her into the sex symbol of the ’50s.
This beauty was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Her father, who was a musician and passed down to his daughter the love for singing and the violin, died when she was just three years old. Her mother later re-married and the family moved to Dallas, Texas. Speaking of her childhood, Jayne once said, “Something went out of my life,” she said. “My earliest memories are the best. I always try to remember the good times when Daddy was alive.”
The aspiring actress who dreamed of experiencing the glamour of the Hollywood life married her first husband Paul Mansfield even before graduating from high-school. She and then 20-year-old Paul went to to study acting at the Southern Methodist University and welcomed their daughter Jayne Marie Mansfield in their lives a year after tying the knot.
Jayne’s curves were both a curse and a blessing. She had a hard time finding a job as an actress because producers and directors believed she was too provocative. However, her body would later become her trademark.
At the time she auditioned both for Paramount and Warner Brothers, Jayne was noticed by Milton Lewis, the head of casting at Paramount. ”I had been to three different universities and two or three dramatic schools before I went to Hollywood, preparing myself for my hoped career as an actress. I did a soliloquy for Joan of Arc for Milton Lewis who was head of casting at Paramount Studios in order to audition. And he seemed to think I was wasting my ”obvious talents”. He lightened my hair and tightened my dresses, and this is the result,” she said of him.
In 1955, Jayne landed a role in the movie Female Jungle and was named the Playmate of the Month and featured on the cover of Playboy Magazine.
Soon after, her name started becoming more and more popular and she appeared in a number of movies including the comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, the Western The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw, The Burglar, and Too Hot to Handle.
Beautiful Jayne married three times and had five children. She was the first actress to film nude scenes, for which some of her movies were censored. She died in a car crash when her vehicle collided with a tractor trailer. Her then-boyfriend Sam Brody and the car’s driver died at the scene while the actress’ three children who were also in the car were uninjured. Gorgeous Jayne Mansfield was 34 when she left this world.
Jayne’s daughter Mariska Hargitay was just three when her mother died. She then moved in with her dad Mickey Hargitay.
Mariska is now 58 and a famous actress herself. She followed into her star mother’s footsteps and that’s her way of keeping Jayne’s legacy alive. Throughout the years, Mariska was advised by many to change her name and her looks, so that she resembles her late mother even more than she already does and take on provocative roles, but she refused that multiple times.
Mariska is best known for the role of Olivia Benson in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The series aired back in 1999 and it’s still on and very popular.
The actress says that being a daughter of such a huge star like Jayne Mansfield feels precious, although there is always the pressure of achieving her mom’s success, just like with most actors who follow into their famous parents’ footsteps. “I used to hate constant references to my mom because I wanted to be known for myself,” she told Closer. “Losing my mother at such a young age is the scar of my soul.”
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Mariska sometimes posts photos of her mother, and the one above, in which she and Jayne are side by side, shows that she is a spitting image of her mom, the pinup icon.
“Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy,” Mariska said of her mom speaking to The Closer Weekly. “I understand [my mother] in a new way that gives me peace. Now I understand the love she had in her, and it makes me feel closer to her.”
In 2013, the stars of Marishka and Jayne Mansfield on the Hollywood Walk of Fame were placed side by side.
Mariska has been married to husband Peter Hermann, an actor and producer. The day she met his is still a memorable one.
“He was very handsome, and it was distracting,” she recalled in an interview with Insider. “Then he would come back the other day, and all the producers would look at me and give me eyes. I’d never been like that to anyone ever. It was funny because I was single, I was 35, and my friends were like, ‘Mariska, you need to get out more, nobody’s going to show up on your show and ask you to marry them.’”
Mariska and Peter welcomed their first child, August, in June 2006. However, they wanted more children and decided to adopt.
In 2011, they adopted Amaya Josephine after attending her birth.
“I basically pulled Amaya out,” Mariska told Good Housekeeping when the girl turned one year old. “Peter and I held her, and then the birth mother and I hugged for a long time. That was profound. That was one of the most meaningful moments I’ve ever had in my life.”
A few months later, they adopted another child, son Andrew Nicholas.
“Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy,” she told Closer Weekly. “I understand [my mother] in a new way that gives me peace. Now I understand the love she had in her, and it makes me feel closer to her.”