Jayne Mansfield’s death in horror car crash that spawned grisly urban legend

On this day in 1967, screen icon Jayne Mansfield was killed in a horror car crash that has since become one of the darkest urban legend’s in Hollywood history.

In the early hours of the morning, the 34-year-old starlet took a drive in a 1966 Buick Electra down a narrow country lane close to a swamp in Louisiana as she made her way to a TV appearance in New Orleans.

The road ahead became suddenly obscured by thick mosquito repellent that prevented Jayne’s driver from noticing the closeness of a slow-moving truck just in front of them.

At 2:55am, the two vehicles smashed into each other killing Jayne, her boyfriend Sam Brody and their driver Ronnie Harrison instantly.

Incredibly, Jane’s three children – Mariska, 3, Zoltan, 6, and Miklos Jr, from her second marriage to Mickey Hargitay – who were all asleep in the back, survived the accident with only minor afflictions.

American actress Jayne Mansfield died in a horror car crash when she was just 34 years old
(Image: Getty Images)

But Jayne’s injuries were so severe that rumours quickly began to circulate that the Hollywood actress had been decapitated.

The urban legend started after police photographs showed the crashed car with its roof ripped off and what looked like white blonde hair in the mangled windshield.

However, rumours about the actress being beheaded were dismissed as untrue in the police report which stated Jane died as a result of severe head trauma.

The report on the accident read: “The upper portion of this white female’s head was severed.” While her death certificate recorded her death was the result of a “crushed skull with avulsion (forcible separation or detachment) of cranium and brain.”

The Buick Electra rear-ended a truck on the Old Spanish Trail between New Orleans and Biloxi
(Image: Handout)

Jim Roberts, who acted as undertaker following the accident, told the New York Times: “People always figured wrong about Jayne. About the way she lived and the way she died.

“Her head was attached as much as mine is,” he added.

Eight years on from the tragic accident, filmmaker Kenneth Anger released Hollywood Babylon in 1975 – a salacious read about the Golden Age of cinema and its stars that only fuelled belief in the grisly rumours of Jayne’s death.

The best-selling book included a controversial photo of the aftermath of the fatal car crash. The picture showed Jayne’s dog lying on the road besides what appeared to be human hair.

This was followed by whispers of Jayne’s involvement with Anton LaVey, the self-styled head of the Church of Satan – which has also been linked to her sudden death by theorists.

Janye was said to have become involved with the self-styled head of the Church of Satan before she died
(Image: Getty Images)

According to the myth, Jayne’s boyfriend Brody was so overcome by jealousy that he threatened ‘love rival’ LaVey who in turn claimed a fatal curse would be brought down on his head.

Between 1966 and 1967 Janye and Brody survived no less than seven car crashes before the eighth killed them both.

The car the pair died in was saved by a private collector in Florida who turned it into a roadside attraction in the 1970s.

It now belongs to Scott Michaels who displays it as the centre piece of his Dearly Departed Tours and Artifact Museum in Los Angeles.

Other items on display include bricks from the Tate murder house and the bed and blanket where actor Rock Hudson spent his last night.

American actress Jayne Mansfield, whose real name was Vera Jayne Palmer
American actress Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer
(Image: Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
Jayne went on to become a huge star in America
(Image: Getty Images)

Jayne Mansfield was born Vera Jayne Palmer in Pennsylvania in 1933.

Beginning her showbiz career as a nightclub entertainer, Jayne found success in the 1950s and early 1960s after signing a contract with 20th Century Fox as a potential successor to Marilyn Monroe.

Her breakthrough performance in 1956’s The Girl Can’t Help It, led to Jayne being named a promising newcomer at the Golden Globe Awards.

She went on to on to make a string of movies, became Playboy magazine’s ‘Playmate of the Month’ and was flown out to support the US troops during the Vietnam war.

The blonde bomsbhell also had a well publicised private life and was renowned for her infamous ‘wardrobe malfunctions’ – one of which led to an iconic eyeroll photograph from Sophia Loren.

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