Jayne Mansfield's Grave
Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania
A heart-shaped headstone marks the final resting place of actress Jayne Mansfield, born Vera Jane Palmer in the town of Bryn Mawr, PA in 1933. Young Jane won a beauty contest before she was famous and was crowned "Miss Magnesium Lamp." She nearly unseated Marilyn Monroe as the reigning blond bombshell in the late 1950s, but always ended up as the B-team Monroe (though higher on the bombshell food chain than her B-movie pal Mamie Van Doren, or Dixie Evans, the "Marilyn Monroe of Burlesque"). Like all the bleach-blonde sex goddesses, Jayne's career was waning in the wake of Marilyn's death -- when she met her own untimely end at the age of 34.
It happened in Slidell, Lousiana. At about 2 am the morning of June 29, 1967, a 1966 Buick Electra carrying Jayne and six other passengers -- including Jayne's three children and dogs -- plowed into the back of a tractor-trailer, obscured by haze released by a mosquito fogger. While the children survived, Jayne, her lawyer and boyfriend Sam Brody, and driver Ronnie Harrison did not.
For many years, Mansfield fans could see the alleged Death Car at the Tragedy in US History Museum before it closed in 1998. It was a rusty gray Buick Electra 225 behind glass, and didn't really match the photos of the accident also on display. But the billboard screamed authentic tragedy.
The grisly legend has circulated ever since the accident that Jayne was decapitated when the top of the car was sheered off. Police reports to the contrary, some continue to believe in the decapitation, even that her body may be buried in Pen Argyl while her head is in the Hollywood Forever Memorial Park in Hollywood, CA. Not true. The complete Mansfield is interred in Pen Argyl; the marker in Hollywood is a memorial cenotaph.
Smiler Greg Brown contributed to this road report.