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Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Jane Mansfield's boyfriend...

Every once in a blue moon you meet someone who is either one of the most interesting people in the world or one of the world's best BSers (although I suppose it is possible to be both).

I went to Jama (American pub just a block from Wenceslas square) on Monday after work. Lent starts today and I give up alcohol and sweets - both as a sacrifice to offer up for my religion but also as a diet (I plan on someday writing a book entitled "The Lenten Diet"). Anyway, I wanted an evening of beer before the 47-day alcohol drought.

While I was there this old Czech walked in and my friend fom work, Luke, introduced him to me as Vance. After a minute Vance stepped away to greet someone else at the bar and Luke informed me that Vance was a very interesting guy - that he used to work in Hollywood and knew a slew of stars. Luke said he would talk about Sylvester Stalone or other stars as being his friend and people would think he was just pulling their leg. But then he would produce a photograph with the him and the star to back up his claim. This had happened enough that the general opinion was that much of what he claimed was true.

When Vance came back to our table he took a DVD out of a plastic bag and showed it to Luke. Vance said he bought it because it was a movie with his old girfriend - I took a look at the DVD box and it showed a shapely Jane Mansfield.

For the younger among you, Jane Mansfield was a movie star in the 1950s and early 1960s akin to Marilyn Monroe. Here is some general information about Jane Mansfield from Wikipedia:

Mansfield won several beauty contests while living in Texas, including Miss Photoflash, Miss Magnesium Lamp, and Miss Fire Prevention. The one title she turned down was Miss Roquefort Cheese, because it "just didn't sound right." Frequent references have been made to her very high intelligence quotient. Mansfield advertised her I.Q. as 163, spoke five languages, and was a classically trained pianist and violinist, but such intellectual abilities were inconsequential to her career. Mansfield admitted her public didn't care about her brains. "They're more interested in 40-21-35," she said.

Throughout her career, Mansfield was compared to the reigning sex symbol of the period, Marilyn Monroe. Of this comparison, she said, "I don't know why you people [the press] 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." However, Jayne received her star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame prior to Monroe, was Queen of the Fox lot in 1957, and was voted the top international sex symbol numerous times. It is often stated that Jayne was given the title "The Poor Man's Monroe", however Jayne was the darling of the press when she lived and it was only after her death that such comparisons would be made.

A famous photograph of rival Sophia Loren "sizing up" Jane.

Though her [movie] roles were becoming increasingly marginalized, in 1964 Mansfield turned down the role of Ginger Grant in the television sitcom Gilligan's Island, claiming that the role, which eventually was given to Tina Louise, epitomized the stereotype she wished to rid herself of (but never completely managed to do).

Vance says he was a helicopter pilot for movies, and we talked a little about "The Whirlybirds", an early 1960s TV show about a couple of real men helicopter pilots. As far as how he met Jane Mansfield, Vance said that they met in Iceland when he was stationed there with the US Army. Jane was a star in one of Bob Hope's USO tours that performed there. Somehow he was able to meet Jane who gave him her Hollywood phone number and told him to call her when he got back to the States.

After he was discharged from the Army in 1965 (when her career was already winding down) he was in California and called her. She invited him to a party she was having at her house that Friday. Vance went to the party and, according to him, he moved in with her the following Monday and he lived there for two years, until her untimely death.

Again from Wikipedia:

After a June 28, 1967 evening engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi, Mansfield, Brody, and their driver, Ronnie Harrison, along with the actress's children Miklós, Zoltán, and Mariska, set out in Stevens' 1966 Buick Electra 225 for New Orleans, where Mansfield was to appear in an early morning television interview. On June 29 at approximately 2:25 a.m., on U.S. Highway 90, the car crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer that had slowed down because of a truck spraying mosquito fogger. The automobile struck the rear of the semi tractor and underrode it. Riding in the front seat, the adults were killed instantly; the children riding in the rear survived with minor injuries.

According to Vance, Jane called him in Hollywood from the road the night of the crash. He believes that he was the last person (other than those on those in the car) that she talked to. He said that he received a phone call from the California Highway Patrol a couple of hours later relaying the news of the accident.

Is Vance's story true? Some of it seems farfetched, especially meeting Mansfield in Iceland and having her give him her phone number and then moving in with her for two years. Wikipedia details the three marriages and several affairs that include bobby Kennedy and a Brazilian billionaire. Somehow a Czech helicopter pilot seems out of place in this group.

Mansfield was married three times, divorced twice, and had five children. The actress reportedly also had affairs and sexual encounters with numerous individuals, including Claude Terrail (the owner of the Paris restaurant La Tour d'Argent), Robert F. Kennedy and the Brazilian playboy billionaire Jorge Guinle. At the time of her death, Mansfield was accompanied by Sam Brody, her married divorce lawyer and lover at the time.

Did he at least know her and was she at least a friend? I think that's probable. He certainly knew details about her death that were true (although easily available) and he expressed what seemed to be genuine emotion when speaking of her. Also, he happened to have a page from a Czech magazine which he showed me that had a picture of Mansfield and a young guy in a military uniform that Vance said was him. I don't read Czech so I can't say what the story in the magazine actually said.

When you are in a bar having a drink it is always nice to hear an interesting story and I guess, in the end, it doesn't really make any difference to me whether the whole story, part of the story, or none of the story is true.

He had a couple of other stories that I may relay in future posts.


Steve "Styopa" Channer said...

Jane was married to body-builder Mickey Hargitay. Their daughter, Mariska Hartitay, has been on Law and Order: SVU for years. She has a great figure as well.

Mariska was the little girl in the car!

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