It was on this day back in 1967 when Jayne Mansfield died in a tragic auto accident just outside New Orleans, Louisiana, she was just 34 years old. Jayne was at the height of her career; the actress, dancer, singer and legendary beauty had five young children, three of whom, were travelling with her that fateful night. It was on an overnight road trip from Biloxi to New Orleans that the car she was traveling in crashed into the back of a tractor trailer.
There were a total of six people in the car, the three adults in the front seat were killed instantly upon impact, while her three children in the rear seat survived with minor injuries. Rumor has it that Jayne was decapitated, however it seems those reports were generated based on bystanders seeing her blond wig in the roadway. While her head was definitely attached Jayne’s cause of death was officially listed as ‘crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain.’
The Hollywood legend would not die in vain, nor would her driver, Ronnie Harrison and her attorney/companion Sam Brody. It was because of this tragic rear end collision that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration adooted a law requiring all semi trailers to be equipped with a DOT Bar. More commonly referred to as the Mansfield Bar.
I’ve been fascinated with Jayne Mansfield since childhood, not just for her talent and breathtaking beauty but because I was actually lucky enough to see the crashed remains of that 1966 Buick Electra in which she was killed.
As a kid growing up in Florida in the 1970’s there was no shortage of kitschy roadside attractions and this particular one did not disappoint. It seems that car, along with many other supposedly haunted vehicles were scooped up by a collector and instead of going to the scrap heap they became part of a ‘death car museum’ of sorts…right up my alley, even at the tender age of 7.
Calla, Micheal F. (1986) Pink Goddess: The Jayne Mansfield Story. W H Allen
Highway Crash Kills Actress, Two Others. The Daily Telegram , Eau Claire, Wisconsin, June 29, 1967