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A sex bomb and a tragedy on top of a car: this is how a device was born that saved thousands of lives on the roads


Highlights: Jayne Mansfield starred in nearly 30 films in Hollywood and Europe. She was classified as a shadow of Marilyn Monroe, but knew how to make her own career. In 1967, on one of her trips against the clock between a late-night show and a television appearance, death surprised her aboard a Buick Electra when she was just 34 years old. The accident in which he died at age 34 and that forced to implement the safety bar that bears his name is named in honor of the voluptuous star.

Jayne Mansfield was voluptuous, daring and intelligent. In the shadow of Marilyn Monroe, she starred in nearly 30 films in Hollywood and Europe. The accident in which he died at age 34 and that forced to implement the safety bar that bears his name.

It is a common sight for motorists at every exit to the route: sheltered behind a truck and waiting for the opportunity to overtake, they are face to face with a horizontal stop painted in red and white stripes. The "Mansfield bar" is a security device with a most unusual origin.

It is named in honor of the voluptuous Jayne Mansfield, a Hollywood star who was classified as a shadow of Marilyn Monroe, but who knew how to make her own career and dazzled the spectators. While she promised to remain a pin-up girl until she was 100 years old, a car accident put an end to a life as winding as her curves.

Jayne Mansfield. Photo: AFP

In the '50s, Mansfield was a rising blonde in Los Angeles, a competitor to the super-powered Marilyn. In the '60s, with several divorces and conflictive affairs, he tried to stay afloat with dignity in a gray environment. In 1967, on one of her trips against the clock between a late-night show and a television appearance, death surprised her aboard a Buick Electra when she was just 34 years old.

The Mansfield Bar on the back of the trailers.

Between his birth and his death a lot happened. He married for the first time at age 16. Intelligent, he made his way with great daring and publicity. "Forty-one inches of bust and a lot of perseverance will give you much more than a cup of coffee," he lectured from the world cinematic mecca. There were also addictions, love affairs with a president of the United States, black magic, unfounded rumors of beheading and that posthumous bar to avoid tragedies like his.

Jayne Mansfield, the woman who built herself as a sex bomb

Some defined her as the "least dumb blonde" of cinema. It is that, after the timely dyeing of his naturally brown hair, he aligned himself with the fashion of marked curves and golden hair that in the fifties placed Marilyn Monroe on the throne – and in thousands of posters. But she was much more than beauty.

Vera Jayne Palmer, born in 1933, left her conservative mother in Pennsylvania (her father had died of a heart attack when she was young) determined to become an artist. At age 16, the exit ticket was marriage to a 21-year-old neighbor. The ticket took her to Dallas, where she had a daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield.

Jayne Mansfield died tragically in 1967.

Imposing with his 116-60-90, he knocked on doors and did not settle for knocking on doors: he created his own path to fame. He did it with sensuality. Sponsored by publicist Jim Byron, who had years of night club on his back and whom Frank Sinatra had branded a "parasite", she burst into the presentation of the film Underwater! (1955). Although she did not appear for a single second in the film, she did know how to gain promotion: she dived into the pool and went out without a bikini, topless.

A similar situation occurred when she was invited to a party hosted by Sophia Loren. He approached the table where the Italian actress was and bowed with his neckline overflowing, at the mercy of the indiscreet paparazzi: "I was afraid that the dress would burst and, boom, spill on the table," recalled Loren, whose nervous look was portrayed in a famous photograph.

Jayne Mansfield and Mirtha Legrand in the bar at Tegel Airport after their arrival for the Berlin International Film Festival in 1961. Photo: DPA/dpa Imaging Alliance

For Mansfield, intelligence was a natural virtue. He claimed to have an IQ of 163. He had studied piano and violin. He spoke five languages: French, German, Italian and Spanish, in addition to English. "Forty-one inches of bust and a lot of perseverance will give you more than a cup of coffee, much more. But most girls don't know what to do with what they have," he once said who tried to move in that fine line between the sexual object and the subject who owns his actions.

His career escalated rapidly in the 50s. In total, he appeared in 29 films, including The Girl Can't Help It (1956), Too Hot to Handle (1960) and The Loves of Heracles (1960). He also performed in Broadway plays, appeared on TV shows and even sang a version of the song "As The Clouds Drift By" with Jimi Hendrix accompaniment, to the envy of a legion of rockers.

Jayne Mansfield's measurements: 116-60-90. Photo: AFP

In the sixties she changed the model of the female star and she intensified her travels through Europe and the depths of the United States. In Promises! Promises! (1963) became the first star to do a nude in the Hollywood sound age. While it was a delight for male audiences, it mostly meant a challenge to the dying Hays Code that since 1930 regulated (and limited) content in Hollywood and had already been mocked by Mansfield's deep cleavage in The Girl Can't Help It.

In 1963 she also made the first of the three Playboy covers that had her as a protagonist in those years, which included a raid by Hugh Hefner to the police station after promising on the cover the most extreme nude of the blonde ("The Nudest Jayne Mansfield"). She, meanwhile, never denied her fame as a girl of dreams. "I eat a lot of lean meat and fresh vegetables. You are what you eat. When I'm 100, I'll still be a pin-up girl," she enthused. In 1962, however, the death of Marilyn Monroe sealed the change of era.

A cloud of insecticide and the truck that the driver did not see: how was the tragedy that gave birth to the Mansfield bar

The decade of hippy and rock & roll were troubled years for the actress. She was married two other times and embarked on several furtive romances, including clandestine encounters with John F. Kennedy. He had three sons and two daughters, one of whom is Mariska Hargitay, Detective Olivia Benson of Law & Order. Pushed by lawyer Sam Brody, her last love, she immersed herself in alcohol and drug excesses. And another dark character initiated her into black magic and esotericism.

Anton LaVey led the Church of Satan and had written the Satanic Bible. He was the guide of the sensual actress. But everything changed after an altercation with Brody: the guru threw his curses on the couple. The spells took effect in the following months, with an accident with the youngest son and a significant economic decline. The worst happened in the early morning of June 29, 1967.

In the first minutes of Thursday, the model left the nightclub in Biloxi (Mississippi) where she had just made an appearance. He headed west aboard a Buick Electra 225 built the previous year. Ahead were chauffeur Ronnie Harrison, Mansfield and Brody; in the back seat were his children Miklós, Zoltan and Mariska. The destination was New Orleans, just over 130 kilometers away.

Jayne Mansfield, in his early years of work. Photo: AFP

The car, a classic of the American industry of 5.7 meters long and engine of up to 360 hp, crossed Highway 90. She was in a hurry to get to the Roosevelt Hotel and dive into bed, since that same morning she was invited to a television program. It had been past 2 a.m., the road was bathed in a fresh cloud of insecticide. There were only about 40 kilometers to reach their destination.

The driver, the only one awake inside the vehicle, was preparing to face the Fort Pike bridge that rises over Lake Pontchartrain. The visibility was almost zero at the height of Slidell, so he could not notice that in front there was a truck with a trailer that circulated at very low speed. By the time Harrison saw it, it was too late: The Buick sped into the rear of the 18-wheeler and the sedan's engine embedded itself in the cabin.

The adults, who occupied the front seats, died instantly. The first version indicated that Mansfield had been beheaded. Police later concluded that the hair they found on the windshield was actually the blonde wig Mansfield was wearing at the time.

Jayne Mansfield in 1957, with Queen Elizabeth II. Photo: AFP

"His head was as close to the body as mine," the funeral home worker who embalmed the star's body confirmed 30 years later. The three little ones in the back survived with minor injuries (Mariska, who followed in her mother's footsteps on television and film, was left with a slight scar on her face).

In the wake of the accident, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommended the installation of a time bar on the back of tractor-trailers. Since the end of 1998 they have been compulsory.

The ICC Bar or DOT Bar is that kind of white and red striped steel bumper that looks like a step. The "Mansfield bars" are, in fact, an implement to avoid slips and deaths like those of that actress who, in just 34 years, left her mark on American popular culture and the standards of the automotive industry.

See also

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Source: clarin

All tech articles on 2023-05-27

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