Jayne Mansfield Biography by Eve Golden
I’ve often wished for a really well-written, extensively-researched biography about Jayne Mansfield and my wish has been granted! Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It (Amazon link), by Eve Golden, is exactly the book I’ve always wanted in my personal library. The author treats the mysterious and complex Jayne Mansfield with respect and admiration – as a woman and not simply an iconic figure WITH an iconic figure.
Many old Hollywood actresses are treated as one dimensional by writers… so much so that it’s always very refreshing to see one treated as a person first and Hollywood legend second.`
Jayne Mansfield (19331967) was driven not just to be an actress but to be a star. One of the most influential sex symbols of her time, she was known for her platinum blonde hair, hourglass figure, outrageously low necklines, and flamboyant lifestyle. Hardworking and ambitious, Mansfield proved early in her career that she was adept in both comic and dramatic roles, but her tenacious search for the spotlight and her risqué promotional stunts caused her to be increasingly snubbed in Hollywood.
In the first definitive biography of Mansfield, Eve Golden offers a joyful account of the star Andy Warhol called “the poet of publicity,” revealing the smart, determined woman behind the persona. While she always had her sights set on the silver screen, Mansfield got her start as Rita Marlowe in the Broadway show Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. She made her film debut in the low-budget drama Female Jungle (1955) before landing the starring role in The Girl Can’t Help It (1956). Mansfield followed this success with a dramatic role in The Wayward Bus (1957), winning a Golden Globe for New Star of the Year, and starred alongside Cary Grant in Kiss Them for Me (1957). Despite her popularity, her appearance as the first celebrity in Playboy and her nude scene in Promises! Promises! (1963) cemented her reputation as an outsider.
By the 1960s, Mansfield’s film career had declined, but she remained very popular with the public. She capitalized on that popularity through in-person and TV appearances, nightclub appearances, and stage productions. Her larger-than-life life ended sadly when she passed away at age thirty-four in a car accident.
Golden looks beyond Mansfield’s flashy public image and tragic death to fully explore her life and legacy. She discusses Mansfield’s childhood, her many loves―including her famous on-again, off-again relationship with Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay―her struggles with alcohol, and her sometimes tumultuous family relationships. She also considers Mansfield’s enduring contributions to American popular culture and celebrity culture. This funny, engaging biography offers a nuanced portrait of a fascinating woman who loved every minute of life and lived each one to the fullest.
Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It (Amazon link) isn’t just a fast-reading, highly enjoyable biography, it’s a beautiful coffee table book as well and one that guest would very much enjoy looking through. There are many wonderful photos in the center of the book, many of which I’d never seen (and I live in old Hollywood 24/7!).
Something else that stands out to me is the humor. This feels like an enriching film history text book but without the dryness that comes with a lot of such books. There’s wonderful humor and a colorful personality emanating from each page.
A few of the raving reviews this wonderful book has received:
“There have been other Jayne Mansfield books―but none like this one. Eve Golden’s even-handed, clear-eyed approach to Jayne’s often convoluted life pegs Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It as one of the best star bios ever.”―Laura Wagner, book reviewer for Classic Images and author of Hollywood’s Hard-Luck Ladies
“Eve Golden has given us an impeccably researched, fast-paced, unvarnished but loving tribute to one of Hollywood’s great 1950s blonde bombshells.”―Robert Dance, author of Glamour of the Gods and Hollywood Icons
“Pop the pink champagne for Eve Golden’s breezily written tribute to the phenomenon known as Jayne Mansfield, which quite notably includes an appreciation of her undervalued talent and sadly unfulfilled potential. Immersed in the giddy pleasures of mid-century pop culture, this book is consistently entertaining while always respectful. Even when it’s funny, it never treats Mansfield as a joke.”―John DiLeo, author of Ten Movies at a Time: A 350-Film Journey Through Hollywood and America 1930-1970
“Eve Golden brings impeccable research and stylish writing to this mid-century American icon. Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It dispels the myths about Jayne Mansfield and examines her continuing popularity.”―Larry Harnisch, retired L.A. Times editor, writer, columnist and blogger
“As Eve Golden reveals in this ferociously readable biography, there were always two Jayne Mansfields: a dramatic actress who dressed like a stripper, an avowed Christian and serial adulteress, an animal-lover swathed in mink. Ms. Golden takes on the daunting task of reconciling these contradictions and succeeds admirably, giving us a vivid, well-rounded (no pun intended) account of a unique life.”―Stage and Cinema
“Exemplary in its research and detail, Golden’s book may well become the definitive word―if not the last word―on the Mansfield story.”―Library Journal
“An engrossing picture of a woman who was both a throwback to classic Hollywood glamour and a harbinger of modern, “famous for being famous” reality stars.”―Foreword Reviews
“Golden treats Mansfield with respect and sympathy. [Golden] delves deep into her life, past the gossip and (increasingly desperate) publicity stunts that so dominated her career, to reveal the insecurities that truly dominated, and eventually decimated, her life.”―YES! Weekly
“In this eye-opening, intriguing and oft-times laugh-out-loud biography of the busty blonde bombshell, Eve Golden has managed to bring to three dimensional life the facts and fantasies surrounding the ubiquitous sex symbol of the 50’s and 60’s.”―oscaremoore.com
“In Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It, Golden tells the story of a 1960’s American icon who made a name for herself in the entertainment industry and also in pop culture – and this was before the evolution of social media and more modern-day methods of self-promotion. She was a reality show unto herself. Golden’s book delves into the world of that self-promotion and also how relevant it is today.”―Newsnotes Dance Blog
“In Golden’s capable hands, Mansfield becomes a multi-dimensional person―never just a joke with a big bosom. The research is scrupulous and meticulous, showing us Jayne’s complex nature in startling detail. She’s not perfect, of course, and Golden describes her affairs and mistakes, while also making her sympathetic. . . . This is a definitive, stylish biography, separating fact from fiction, presenting the good with the bad. There has been quite a lot of fiction attached to Mansfield, and Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It is here to sort it all out.”―Laura Wagner, Classic Images
“As with any person we encounter on screen or in the pages of a magazine, Jayne Mansfield was more than just what the media portrayed. These other facets of her life as well as what the public saw is what author Eve Golden has chronicled in her new biography, Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It. Golden takes her reader through a very detailed account of Mansfield’s entire life bringing forth a more holistic picture of the Hollywood legend as a celebrity, actress, mother, woman, and person.”―Cinema Sentries
After reading a book, I often ask myself, “If I were to write a book about this particular subject, would I do so after reading this particular book?” Often I answer, “Yes, because I’d like to know more about ____ or I wish the individual had been fleshed out in more detail…” but after reading Eve Golden’s Jayne Mansfield: The Girl Couldn’t Help It (Amazon link), not only is my answer, “No, there’d be absolutely no need to!,” I have no idea why anyone else would even bother as well.
The definitive (and highly, highly enjoyable) book has been written.
About the Author