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Jayne Mansfield was an American actress best known for her bombshell curves and roles in films during the 1950s and '60s.
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In 1954, after Paul Mansfield returned from the war, Mansfield convinced him to move with her to Los Angeles so she could pursue her dream of becoming a movie star.
Mansfield's first years in Hollywood brought mostly disappointment. She had several unsuccessful auditions for Paramount and Warner Bros. and had to take work selling candy at a movie theater. She also sought out modeling work, but at her first professional photo shoot, an advertisement for General Electric, she was cropped out of the picture because she looked "too sexy" for 1954 audiences.
As she struggled to break into show business, her marriage suffered, and in 1955 she and Paul Mansfield split ways (she decided to keep his last name because she thought it sounded "illustrious"). That same year, she landed her first film roles, small parts in a trio of films: Female Jungle, Pete Kelly's Blues and Illegal.
Mansfield proved to have an uncanny knack for self-marketing, and she took steps to distinguish herself from the many curvy blonde actresses attempting to make it big in Hollywood at the time. She made pink her trademark color -- she wore pink, drove a pink car and bought a house decked out in pink that she dubbed "the pink palace." Mansfield garnered her first nationwide publicity when, attending the premiere of Underwater in Florida, her top mysteriously fell off in sight of numerous journalists.
From then on, as one journalist put it, Mansfield "suffered so many on-stage strap and zipper mishaps that nudity was, for her, a professional hazard." Shortly after the Underwater incident, she landed a role in the Broadway production and film adaptation of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter. Those performances finally established her as a star actress, and she went on to feature in such films as Kiss Them For Me (1957), The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) and It Takes a Thief (1960).
Nevertheless, many more people saw her photograph than her movies -- in just nine months, from September 1956 to May 1957, Mansfield appeared in an astonishing 2,500 newspaper photographs.
After seeing her career fizzle out somewhat for the next several years, in 1963 Mansfield again made headlines after becoming the first American actress to appear nude in a major motion picture, Promises! Promises! While the film generated significant buzz, it failed to reignite her film career, and she made only a handful more films, including Panic Button (1964), The Fat Spy (1966) and Single Room Furnished (1967).
In the later years of her career, Mansfield also returned to Broadway with an acclaimed turn in Bus Stop and developed into a successful nightclub performer with an act that combined song, comedy and impromptu banter with the audience.
After her 1955 split from Paul Mansfield, Jayne Mansfield's personal life followed a turbulent, dramatic and highly publicized course that often overshadowed her acting career.
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