She dated John Kennedy, starred in a movie with Little Richard and recorded a couple of songs with Jimi Hendrix.
Hollywood starlet and Playboy Bunny Jayne Mansfield had a huge career in the 1960s. She was a hard-working mother whose job took her from the top of marquees to being the headline performer at nightclubs across the country.
Mansfield’s daughter, Mariksa Hargitay, would grow up to play Detective Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
But Mansfield didn’t get to see her daughter grow up.
On a hot night in late June of 1967, Mansfield would give her final performance — at Gus Stevens Restaurant & Supper Club on U.S. 90 in Biloxi. The going price for a highball at Gus’ in the late 1960s? Well, $1.15, of course.
Mansfield was a passenger in a 1966 Buick Electra traveling west on U.S. 90 en route to New Orleans in the early morning hours of June 29, 1967, when driver Ronnie Harrison crashed into the back of a trailer.
Mansfield and her attorney, as well as Harrison, were killed in the crash.
Mansfield, who had five children, died at 34.
Her final performance at Gus’ and death shortly thereafter remains one of the biggest pop culture moments on the Coast.
To this day, rumors swirl in South Mississippi about the details surrounding Mansfield’s death.
Here are the facts and the folklore.
Fact: Mariska Hargitay was in the car when the crash occurred.
Multiple reports, including ones published by History.com and Nola.com, claim that three of Mansfield’s children, including future “Law and Order” star Mariska Hargity, were asleep in the car at the time of the crash.
Folklore: The crash happened in Biloxi.
Unless you think about 60 miles west is “near” Biloxi, this is just a rumor. It would be slightly more accurate to say the crash happened near Bay St. Louis.
It actually happened on the Rigolets, which is a stretch of Highway 90 connected by bridges that’s east of Lake Pontchartrain near Slidell, Louisiana.
Folklore: Mansfield was decapitated in the crash.
The urban folklore and mythology surrounding Mansfield’s death runs deep, with one of the most popular rumors being that she was decapitated during the crash.
According to Snopes.com, this is just that — a rumor. While Masnfield did have some major head trauma, she was not beheaded during impact.
Fact: A piece of safety equipment is named after Mansfield.
The Mansfield bar is a bumper across the back of a tractor-trailer. It is used to stop vehicles from going under 18-wheelers and tractor-trailers in the event of a crash.