Jayne Mansfield

  1. Natalie Wood, Rebel Without A Cause, 1955.  
    Director Nicholas Ray called it an “hallucination” of Warner’s casting office.  “Hell, I didn’t even put any film in the camera for her screen test.” That was his hallucination. The truth: Dennis Hopper, sharing the scene, said it was a serious test.  Like his others with Carroll Baker, Patricia (later Pat), Crowley, Peggy Ann Garner, Margaret O’Brien, Leer Remick, Debbie Reynolds, Lois Smith, Susan Strasberg.  Although Ray –  a bisexual, misogynistic womaniser  said Dennis Hopper’s  biographer Peter L Winkler –   never discussed the script with the testees, just how they got on with their fathers. Mansfield (22), Margaret O’Brien, Lee Remick, Debbie Reynolds  had no problems but Wood had huge issues with her  alcoholic father.   Mansfield being rejected by head brother Jack Warner  was awkward for Ray as he was sleeping with Jayne. Then again, Ray (44) was also bedding Wood. At 16, she was the true (sexual) rebel in the cast.  Ray said she was  too young. (Hah !). Only when she had a hospital call him after being in a car smash with Hopper, did he give in… “Nick! They called me a juvenile delinquent.  Now I get the part? ” Ray memoed to Warner Bros: “We just spent three days testing 32 kids. There is only one girl who has shown the capacity to play Judy, and she is Natalie Wood.” She  got Hopper, too. Or so he said. (He played Jim Stark in all the girls’ tests and  was more smitten with James Dean). 

  2. Joan Collins, Rally ‘Round The Flag, Boys! 1958.     Jayne had won a seven-year contract with Fox which immediately introduced her in The Girl Can’t Help It with the trailer line: “Man, oh man, oh Mansfield! ”  Bette Davis did not approve of her: “Dramatic art, in her opinion, is knowing how to fill a sweater.” Or, at the end of her 22-year career, taking it off. Joan, said Jayne, was “far too tarty” for the outrageous man-eater role opposite Paul Newman. It required “a touch of class and an impish sense of humour,” explained Joan. “Few actors go out of their way to try and get a part for a friend, but the Newmans have always been generous and supportive in their relationships with people they care about.”
  3. Jane Fonda, The Chapman Report, 1962.       When the LA Times prematurely announced Orson Welles as Dr Kinsey – er, Dr Chapman! – it also said that Mansfield and Janet Leigh would be among his sex-research projects. Director George Cukor did not agree. Most guy’s roles went to Warner’s (cheaper) TV stars – Ray Danton, Chad Everett, Ty Hardin, Efrem Zimbalist Jr, etc.
  4. Tina Louise, Gilligan’s Island, TV, 1964-1976.  Before Kit Smythe and the winning Louise, the mighty Mansfield had been offered Ginger Grant – as pin-uppy and adorable as Jayne was. But she didn’t want TV, she craved movies.   Gilliganwas made by  Phil Silvers’ company.
  5. Carroll Baker, Harlow, 1965 Jayne, Marilyn, Stella Stevens and Mamie Van Doren were the inevitable blondes seen for probably the trashiest Hollywood biopic. Marilyn threw up when reading a previously rotten Fox version. “I hope they don’t do that  to me  after I’ve  gone.” (They did).  Baker had been Rina Marlowe in the same producer’s Carpetbaggers.  Only true elements in this one were the names of Harlow, her second husband, her mother, stepfather and agent (who’d helped write the Irving Schulman book). The rest was 250% bullshit. MGM was Majestic, the head Metro lion, Louis B Mayer was re-named Everett Redman, Clark Gable and Howards Hughes became Jack Harrison  and  Richard Manly jn a script having her dying from pneumonia, not uremic poisoning. None of her real films were even alluded to, just fake titles like Luscious Lady, Sin Cityand The Blonde Virgin.
  6. Sabrina [Norma Ann Sykes], The Ice House, 1968.    Jayne signed for the slasherama movie in May, 1967. Filming was due to begin in July – she was killed in a New Orleans car crash on June 29, 1967. Her replacement was the similarly statuesque UK “maid of the mountains.” Jayne’s career credo – “Nothing risqué, nothing gained”- -was continued by her Emmy Award-winning daughter Mariska Hargitay on producer Dick Wolf’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, 1999-2016. (A most beautiful and charming interviewee). (So was Wolf) . (Well, charming, anyway). 


 Birth year: 1933Death year: 1967Other name: Casting Calls:  6