People have been telling me to listen to “You Must Remember This.” So of course, I had to listen to the episode on my favorite blonde, Jayne Mansfield. I got told repeatedly that Karen Longworth’s productions were fact checked and accurate. I went on her website and looked at some of her sources on the Marilyn series and was happy to see that she had used an article that I had contributed to. “Great!” I thought, “Someone who really does fact check!” Of course, my hopes were dashed pretty much instantly. I have listened to some of Longworth’s older podcasts and I must say, they are indeed accurate. What is evident is that Longworth talks about things she knows nothing about, likely to meet her quota. In her defense, I was warned well ahead of time that she seemed to have disdain for Jayne and my friend was right, her podcast was sloppy and inaccurate and reeks of detest for Jayne.
Claim: Jayne was hired by Fox to compete with Marilyn.
Fact: Jayne said herself that she was never in competition with Marilyn for the same roles. While not exactly true (Marilyn and Jayne were both in the running for a Harlow bio-pic and Something’s Got To Give), Marilyn had recently formed her own production company and was looking for roles that had a more serious tone. Jayne was put in movies reminiscent of Marilyn’s earlier career work, which would put her in parts that would in no way compete with what Marilyn was focusing on at that point in her career. Marilyn had progressed well beyond lavish technicolor musicals, ala Jayne’s “The Girl Can’t Help It.” Fox was looking for a blonde replacement, not a competitor.
Claim: Jayne was a Marilyn copycat ala Kim Novak and Mamie Van Doren
Fact: No. Jayne was looking to perfect a screen persona of the oblivious “dumb” blonde. This was started well before Marilyn. Using that logic, Marilyn was a Jean Harlow or Alice Faye or Betty Grable copycat. Kim Novak was to replace Rita Hayworth with a look reminiscent of Marilyn but when one compares the filmographies, she really did neither. Kim started out with gritty crime dramas and progressed throughout comedy-dramas, well before Marilyn’s turn in Bus Stop and finally “serious” pictures such as Vertigo. The one thing that Mamie and Marilyn have in common is that both were blonde. Mamie worked hard in teenage-centric films or comedies like Teacher’s Pet or Three Nuts In Search Of A Bolt.
Claim: Jayne was a parody of Marilyn Monroe
Fact: Parody? In Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, yes. In The Girl Can’t Help It, Kiss Them For Me, The Sheriff From Fractured Jaw, or her other movies? No. Being a dumb blonde was invented well before Marilyn and it continued well after her. I suppose one could say that Jayne was a much better actress than people giver her credit for because George Axelrod wrote “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter” as a parody that Jayne performed well.
Claim: Jayne found herself pregnant at 17 and married her on again, off again boyfriend Paul Mansfield.
Fact: Jayne got pregnant at 16. Simple math will tell you this being she had Jayne Marie in November of 1950. Depending on what someone wants to believe, Jayne was either married to Paul, they didn’t tell their parents, Jayne got pregnant in March, and her mother found out in May and had another ceremony for the two of them. That’s Paul’s version and I tend to believe it being that’s what Jayne claimed as well. Jayne would later say she got pregnant by an older gas station attendant named Inky and told Paul her plight. He agreed to marry her. I believe this was more to spite Paul being Paul would have no reason to lie about the beginnings of his relationship with Jayne well after Jayne’s death. On again, off again? Hardly.
Claim: When Marilyn Monroe made a splash in Hollywood in 1953, Jayne followed suit.
Fact: Absolutely not true. Jayne had gone out to Hollywood in 1951 but was forced to return home when Paul got drafted. That is when Jayne became a blonde (after wanting to instead play an ethnic beauty) and posed for Blue Book. She had no reason to even know that Marilyn had worked at the same modeling agency being Marilyn had just begun to receive a little recognition. This is also when Jayne enrolled in UCLA. Jayne made an agreement with Paul that once he was released from the military, they could go back to Hollywood so that Jayne could continue her dream of reaching stardom that she held since she was little. Her timeline happens to follow Marilyn’s during this period but she most definitely had her plans well before Marilyn’s super stardom.
Claim: After going to Republic Pictures for a screen test, Jayne was shocked to learn she wasn’t the prettiest girl there.
Fact: Umm… Jayne had worked for Blue Book Modeling agency. It’s pretty asinine to claim that Jane didn’t see pretty women trying to get work in Hollywood being she had done the exact same thing a few years before. YMRT also fails to mention that Jayne had auditioned for Universal pictures (but a single bonus point for getting Paramount in there).
Claim: Paul couldn’t stand Jayne’s publicity from the Underwater! junket and left a few months later.
Fact: Paul had left Jayne in October of 1954, shortly after she purchased a home in Los Angeles being they were past their six month agreement. Jayne tried to get Paul to relent but he wouldn’t. She filed her separation papers on January 7, 1955, over two months after Paul’s leaving and before the Underwater! junket.
Claim: Rita Marlow was transparently based on Marilyn Monroe
Fact: Yes, and Axelrod claimed that Rita also contained elements of Rita Hayworth and Jean Harlow.
Claim: Mae West performed behind a “wall” of scantily clad body builders. One of these men was Mickey Hargitay
Fact: Okay, I’m nitpicking, but Mickey was actually one of the featured performers, not just one of the back up men being he was the 1955 Mr. Universe.
Claim: Jayne was hired to replace Marilyn or make her more compliant.
Fact: Jayne was hired based off of her own merits to replace the void left by Marilyn AND Betty Grable the year before. Fox wanted to continue to make the blonde featured fluff that they were famous for. If Fox had hired Jayne to make Marilyn more compliant, they would have been looking for someone much sooner, and they had. Sheree North resembled Marilyn, was hired in 1954, and it hadn’t brought Marilyn in line. It’s asinine to think that Jayne was hired to get Marilyn in line.
Claim: Rock Hunter ended in September of 1956.
Fact: Absolutely not true. Rock Hunter continued until November 10, 1956, with Jane Kean playing the role of Rita Marlow. The show was originally expected to close on November 3rd but was lucky enough to be picked up for another week. Without Jayne, the play was “drooping,” as noted by the press. Jayne left the production earlier than anticipated so she could film “The Girl Can’t Help It,” which was released in December of 1956.
Claim: Jayne Mansfield, in her Tashlin films, was more like Jean Harlow than Marilyn.
Fact: I’ve seen every Jean Harlow movie I can get my hands on so I barely see what she is saying but, considering Marilyn had never seen a Jean Harlow movie by the early 50s, this bugs me being Marilyn wasn’t trying to act like Jean. Just stop.
Claim: Jayne didn’t want to be famous for herself and just did anything to get attention
Fact: Jayne looked at the dumb blonde bombshell roles like any other blonde had before her, as a stepping stone. She was much more comfortable doing them than the more insecure Marilyn, but, like Marilyn, wanted to dip her toe into serious acting AS WELL as doing comedies. Now, I’m not going to claim that Jayne wasn’t after publicity, but she wasn’t the first and she wasn’t the last. She was willing to go just a tad bit farther and that got her in national newspapers well before she signed with Fox. One of my favorite Jayne quotes is one where she talks about how she wants to become a star, then an actress.
Claim: Jayne got pregnant with Mickey Junior, married Mickey, and headlined her 1958 Las Vegas show to “feed her celebrity” and these events were “distracting her from making movies.”
Fact: Yes, I am sure there was a major conspiracy by Jayne to get pregnant to keep her name in the headlines. Her Vegas show was done because she was able to draw in crowds and was paid $25,000/week ($35,000 for House of Love two years later), ten times what Fox was paying her per week. Marrying Mickey, arguably the love of her life, after a two year courtship? If she was doing things just for publicity she would have dated around. Besides a date with Robert Wagner for the December 1957 premiere of Anastasia, Jayne was incredibly loyal to Mickey because she LOVED him. Also, her filmography was packed. She completed “The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw” while pregnant and soon after she had Mickey Junior (and had lost the baby weight), was back to work on films such as “The Challenge” and “Too Hot To Handle.”
Claim: The Jayne and Sophia photos were in 1959
Fact: Um… Those photos were taken at the special Romanoff’s premiere of Loren’s “Boy on a Dolphin” on April 17, 1957, two years before Longworth claims they were. Nice try but serious fact checking error. Jayne had worn the dress before but never to that effect. Jayne herself claimed that she never intended for herself to be that exposed (which I can see people taking with a grain of salt) AND told Louella Parsons that Fox had set it up (which I actually believe although I doubt they knew the extent that Jayne would push it).
27:01 – 29:05
Claim: Jayne hadn’t done much of movie note since 1957 when the Beatles came to the US in August of 1964
Fact: What Longworth seems to have missed is that Jayne was still a big attraction for European audiences. Longworth also seems to have missed that Jayne was a top box office draw in America after the 1963 release of “Promises, Promises” (and the subsequent arrest of Hugh Hefner for releasing photos in Playboy).
Claim: Paul told reporters that they wanted to meet Jayne (which may have been a joke, mush of what came out of the Beatles’ mouths wasn’t to be taken literally)
Fact: Jayne’s “The Girl Can’t Help It” was a major reason that The Beatles came together. Paul played “Twenty Flight Rock” for John, causing John to as Paul to join. Longworth acts like they were simple fans. Absolutely not. Jayne’s movie helped form the phenomenon that became The Beatles. They had been fans of hers and talked about it, with Paul bringing it up in “The Beatles Anthology” which you can see here around the seven minute mark. There is also a famous story about how The Beatles interrupted recording “Birthday” in 1968 so that they could watch “The Girl Can’t Help It” make its debut on BBC.
Claim: Chris Hutchins (a reporter) claimed that Jayne showed up at The Beatles home unannounced, John Lennon was turned off by Jayne pulling on his hair to figure out if it was real, John urinated in Jayne’s cocktail, finally, Jayne followed The Beatles to the Whiskey A-GO-GO where they all got embarrassingly drunk.
Fact: Let’s start out by acknowledging that Longworth seems to think that the Daily Mail and Hutchins are 100% reputable. If this was true, Hutchins should have photos of Jayne hanging out with The Beatles at the house. None have been released. I have been lucky enough to ask Ray Strait about that night (and yes, there are actual photos of him there). First off, the meeting was set up. The Beatles went to The Pink Palace and spent a few hours there, partying with Jayne. Nothing about John urinating in Jayne’s drink was released at the time and Jayne was pleasant when asked about how they were. It’s also unlikely that Jayne would have had John make drinks in her home. That job likely would have been given to Ray. The group then went to the Whiskey, where they stayed for 30 minutes to an hour, hardly enough time for a group of five to get rip-roaring drunk. Again, Hutchins has released no photos from that night even though he was there. George Harrison was so mad that reporters were interloping on his night out that he threw a drink on a reporter who was trying to take photos that landed on a cop and Mamie Van Doren who had made her way over to the table to say hello. What Longworth does get correct is an interview the group did for Playboy where Paul said she was a clot and old bag yet admitted to never meeting her (Ringo, John, and George did). What Longworth (not shockingly) leaves out is Ringo’s reply to Paul seemingly trying to speak for all of them. Ringo would later go on to purchase The Pink Palace. Seems a bit odd that Ringo would defend Jayne and later purchase her house if he couldn’t stand her.
Claim: Paul wasn’t in the pictures so maybe he wasn’t there.
Fact: Well duh. He says he didn’t go and he’s obviously not in any of the pictures. It goes with the original story that Ringo, John, and George went to The Pink Palace.
Claim: In October of 1966 Jayne participated in a publicity stunt with Anton LaVey in San Francisco.
Fact: Absolutely not true. Jayne was in San Francisco in 1966 but there are zero reports of her meeting with Anton. The photos in question that Longworth is carelessly referencing were taken in 1967. Jayne DID form some sort of friendship with him before February of 1967 but these were likely only phone calls with no physical meeting until that spring. There are no photos of Jayne with Anton until that point and, AGAIN, no reports of them meeting. Even the Church of Satan says Anton was a liar which you can find here. Jayne herself seemed horrified when asked if she was joining:
Claim: Anton put a curse on Sam Brody for making fun of him and this curse happened in October of 1966. Spookily the lion mauling of Jayne’s son Zoltan happened a month later.
Fact: I’m pretty sure we have debunked the dates. Anton did NOT claim the curse until a few months after Jayne’s death. He stuck by it being made in the spring of 1967, when their photos were taken together, supposedly telling Jayne that Sam would die within a year (which he did). Bringing Zoltan’s mauling into the story and trying to connect them at all is disgusting on Longworth’s part.
Misc complaint: The best lines of this entire show are nearly verbatim quotes from Martha Saxton’s “Jayne Mansfield and the American 50’s.” Read the book, it’s much better.
Closing thoughts – Please, PLEASE, let Karen Longworth recruit someone who knows something on her subjects being she obviously doesn’t. Fan clubs are open and great treasure troves of information. Check your sources and their credibility. Don’t use publications akin to The National Enquirer as some God given fact or, at the very least, present both sides if you absolutely think that a gossip rag is the way to go.