Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer; April 19, 1933 – June 29, 1967) was an American actress in film, theater, and television. She was also a nightclub entertainer, a singer, and one of the early Playboy Playmates. She was a major Hollywood sex symbol of the 1950s and early 1960s and one of 20th Century Fox's main sex symbol actresses. She was also known for her well-publicized personal life and publicity stunts, such as wardrobe malfunctions.
Although Mansfield's film career was short-lived, she had several box-office successes and won a Theatre World Award and a Golden Globe. She enjoyed success in the role of fictional actress Rita Marlowe, both in the 1955–1956 Broadway version and the 1957 Hollywood film version of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. Her other major movie performances were for The Girl Can't Help It (1956), The Wayward Bus (1957), and Too Hot to Handle (1960). In the sexploitation film Promises! Promises! (1963), she became the first major American actress to have a nude starring role in a Hollywood motion picture. Mansfield took her professional name from her first husband, public relations professional Paul Mansfield. Mansfield's career came to an end when she was killed in a 1967 car accident at the age of 34.
In 1967, Mansfield was in Biloxi, Mississippi, for an engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club. After two appearances the evening of June 28, Mansfield, Sam Brody (her attorney and companion), their driver Ronnie Harrison (age 20), and three of Mansfield's children – Miklós, Zoltán and Mariska – departed Biloxi after midnight in a 1966 Buick Electra 225. Their destination was New Orleans, where Mansfield was scheduled to appear on WDSU's Midday Show at noon the next day. At approximately 2:25 a.m., on U.S. Highway 90 west of the Rigolets Bridge, the Buick crashed at high speed into the rear of a tractor-trailer that had slowed behind a truck spraying mosquito fogger and that was shrouded in the insecticide fog. The three adults in the front seat were killed instantly. The children, who were asleep in the rear seat, survived with minor injuries.
Reports that Mansfield was decapitated are untrue, although she suffered severe head trauma. The urban legend was spawned by the appearance in police photographs of a crashed car with its top virtually sheared off, and what resembled a blonde-haired head tangled in the car's smashed windshield. However, this was a wig Mansfield was wearing and possibly parts of her actual hair and scalp. The death certificate stated that the immediate cause of Mansfield's death was a "crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain". After her death, the NHTSA recommended requiring an underride guard (a strong bar made of steel tubing) on all tractor-trailers, although the trucking industry was slow to adopt this change. This bar is known as a "Mansfield bar", or an "ICC bar".