She was one of those creatures with voluptuous curves who stand behind what they put forward; more prosaically, Jayne Mansfield (1933-1967) was a busty blonde, as film producers saw her and a few other buxom starlets.

The one who was called Vera Palmer before her first marriage first wanted to be a new Shirley Temple. After bleaching to platinum blonde, she then became an ersatz of Marilyn Monroe, whose mischievous faces and little high-pitched cries she copied, but whom she beat in the measurements department. Which caused her to be presented by a film studio as a “king size Marilyn”.

The actress, recalls Patrick Jeudy in his documentary Jayne Mansfield, the tragedy of a blonde (2013), which Arte rebroadcast, quickly understood to what extent her 101 centimeters of chest size would serve her. She willingly had herself photographed from a low angle, orchestrated “wardrobe accidents” and was, he comments, “the first film star of such notoriety” to appear naked on screen to relaunch the attention of the male public and pocket the income that his expensive lifestyle required.

Seedy nightclubs

But at her peak, Jayne Mansfield only made supporting films and only had a few years of success, when she ended up being the replacement for a Marilyn Monroe whom studios no longer wanted to hire due to her unpredictability. The press was not fooled, calling Mansfield a “double for an imitation”…

Victim of a macho system? Mansfield proved quite the opposite, with a stubborn stubbornness to do what she wanted. Studios were advising her not to get married? Jayne found and married a Tarzan in the person of a former bodybuilder whose pecs she appreciated (birds of a feather flock together). We disapproved of her pregnancies? She had five children, from three different fathers, and led a dissolute life, which became even more so when she dabbled in alcohol and LSD.

The end of Mansfield’s career, according to Patrick Jeudy, was a little miserable: dull, adrift, without any real memorable filmography, the actress continued to fascinate the male clientele of the seedy nightclubs where she performed, before returning to put his offspring to bed. It was on the way back from one of these evenings that the actress’ car hit a truck. She died at age 34 on June 29, 1967.

Jayne Mansfield, any more than Marilyn Monroe, never received the supreme tribute of the profession, that of the Academy Awards, the famous Oscars of which she dreamed. Her only consolation gift was the award given by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Golden Globes Awards. Ironic tribute to the one who made her breast curves her favorite promotional argument.

Patrick Jeudy’s documentary could have done without including too many sequences where unknown actresses humiliate themselves in front of the camera to say that they look like Jayne Mansfield when that is not the case. This cruelty, which seems to reflect on them the cynical view that the producers had on the “explosive blonde”, adds nothing to the subject.