Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Why Jayne Mansfield Really Was Divoon

kiss_them_for_me_ebay

Cary Grant and Jayne Mansfield in a still from “Kiss Them for Me,” listed on EBay at $8.99.


If Jayne Mansfield had died in 1957 instead of 1967, she’d be remembered as one of the most talented and promising actresses of her generation. In 1956 and ’57, she gave two sharp, smart comic performances (The Girl Can’t Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?) and a quiet, touching dramatic performance in The Wayward Bus. Then it all went straight to hell, starting with the unwatchable Dumpster fire of Kiss Them for Me. Fox is really foxy about not letting its movies get onto YouTube, so I will have to present you with the official trailer for Rock Hunter:

 

and a really crap-quality minute from The Wayward Bus:

But instead . . . This was Jayne’s future . . .

 

Now don’t get me wrong—I adore the Queen of Camp she became. The world would be a poorer place without Jaynie’s pink-marshmallow, tragicomic divoonity. That’s not Jayne doing the Wild, Wild narration, by the way, it’s Italian actress Caroline de Fonseca, who earned her living doing voice-overs for American stars. And just try to get that damn jingly theme song out of your head!

Here’s a Jayne you rarely see. If there was a bad, self-destructive decision to be made, Jayne leaped right at it. But she was also one of the sweetest people in show business, without a mean or scheming bone in her body. Skip to the 1:07 mark of this clip for a heart-breaking interview with Jayne (in one of her series of increasingly tatty wigs), just back from a Vietnam tour, months before her death:

Jayne needs a good biography, and I’d love to write it. But her daughter Jayne Marie was very nice but very firm that she just didn’t want to go there, and I can’t do a book without her.

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in Eve Golden, Film, Hollywood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: Why Jayne Mansfield Really Was Divoon

  1. Laura C. says:

    It’s too bad that Jayne Marie wouldn’t agree to it. There is nobody I would trust Jayne with more than you, Eve.

    Kiss Them For Me is some bad, bad cinema. For anyone who hasn’t seen it, I can confirm that it really is *unwatchable*. You won’t make it past the half hour mark.

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  2. betty1114 says:

    I only read one book on Jayne and it was pure unadulterated trash. Having read your previous books, I do know you do not sensationalize and wish her daughters would cooperate with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Benito says:

    Don’t miss her skit in A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN [1967]. She lost her bra at Terry
    Thomas’ house, and his wife is coming home soon…

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  4. I remember reading a nonfiction book in childhood about a white cat–the cat’s owner was friends with Jayne, and I vividly remember the descriptions of how sweet she was, which didn’t jibe at all with the tabloidesque images I had seen in movie-history books. (Odd detail: according to that book, Jayne would refuse to let her dresser take that cat’s fur off of her outfits, out of loyalty to the cat. At the time I think I was on Jayne’s side, but now I’m on the dresser’s side!)

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  5. I think Jayne Marie lived through the nightmare of Jayne’s last couple of years and doesn’t want to do it again. The Raymond Strait bio told all that needed to be told – that she succumbed to drugs, booze and very bad men because she couldn’t deal with the fact that blonde bombshells were going away. In the beginning, she made the mistake of portraying herself as unintelligent and ditsy and when the time came to grown into herself, she couldn’t do it. She fiercely loved her kids, but not as much as she loved publicity and men. And that’s a shame.

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    • Eve says:

      I totally understand why Jayne Marie doesn’t want to go there again, and would never pressure her to do so. But it’s a shame that Jayne will never have a real biography–unbiased, that tells the good and bad, and examines her career as an actress. That book-esque object by Raymond Strait did not begin to do the job.

      Not that I’m any great shakes–but I wish SOMEONE would write an actual, non-crazy biography of her.

      Like

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