Jayne Mansfield's short-lived union
It was a marriage, if not of like minds, at least of heavenly bodies: B-movie queen Jayne Mansfield, 24, the squeaky-voiced Monroe wannabe with the 40-18-36 figure, and Mickey Hargitay, 29, the Hungarian former Mr. Universe. Mansfield, who shot to movie stardom in 1956’s The Girl Can’t Help It, met Hargitay when he was a beefcake chorus boy in a Mae West nightclub revue. The chemistry proved explosive.
In a premiere-like atmosphere, the two wed on Jan. 13, 1958, just five days after her divorce from publicist Paul Mansfield became final. Hundreds of fans hovered on the hillside above the glass-walled chapel in Portuguese Bend, Calif. And when the Hargitays arrived in Dallas to visit her relatives the next day, crowds thronged the airport to ogle her 10-carat diamond ring.
The honeymooning Hargitays held forth in a Hollywood mansion they called the Pink Palace, complete with heart-shaped pool. But soon after they moved in, Hargitay’s ex-wife asked for more child support, and the couple took reporters on tours of the bare mansion, claiming they were forced to sleep on a mattress on the floor. A month after the nuptials, they opened a Vegas act in which Mickey twirled a lightly clad Jayne overhead. Mansfield’s movie career was waning, but she was never in want of ink. The couple produced three well-publicized children (including daughter Mariska Hargitay, now 28, an actress), and once, at a Rome nightclub, Jayne made news by shimmying right out of her polka-dot dress.
The marriage went sour in 1962, following her affair with an Italian filmmaker. The couple divorced in ’63, reconciled that year — ”If you love a girl, you love her forever,” Hargitay said — and re-split. ”I have nothing more to say to you,” he reportedly once told her. ”You gave me a lot of bad publicity.”
Hargitay became a successful builder and lives quietly today in Bel Air with third wife Ellen Siano. Mansfield never found peace. She married and divorced director Matt Cimber, was photographed brawling in a Stockholm nightclub, and in 1967 died at age 34 in a car crash near New Orleans. (Contrary to popular myth, she was not decapitated.) ”Jayne seems to meet trouble halfway,” columnist Sheilah Graham once sniffed. As true in her marriage as her life.
Time Capsule: January 13, 1958
At the movies, Old Yeller jerked tears. James Cozzens’ By Love Possessed cast a big spell on book buyers, Danny and the Juniors sang ”At the Hop,” and Gunsmoke lassoed the No. 1 TV spot.