Jayne Mansfield and the American Fifties

Jayne Mansfield and the American Fifties

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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 120 x 180mm
  • Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group Inc
  • Bantam USA
  • New York, United States
  • Ill.
  • 0553023098
  • 9780553023091

Review Text

Jayne Mansfield, you'd better believe, "is hard on a feminist." To say the least. And yet Saxton looks at her life and her career as the '50's ultimate sex-object from a feminist perspective, managing at the same time considerable sympathy for the woman whose entire identity was a 40-inch bust. By the time Jayne was in high school she had succumbed to the sexual values of her period and, lacking that certain je ne sais quoi called "personality," believed that "putting out" was the only way left to be popular and get ahead. Without a pang of guilt or doubt Jayne exploited her body to achieve success; at the height of her stardom she used her physical endowments to "promote" clothes, furniture, groceries and airline tickets. Her ambition was not to be an actress but a "personality" and she was happy to epitomize the dumb blonde - though in fact Saxton shows her to have been an aggressive, ambitious and dominating woman who, tragically, was victimized by her own image and never learned to distinguish her private life from a cheap publicity stunt. A born exhibitionist, Jayne craved the love and attention of all men, yet genuinely believed in the glamour and romance pandered by the movie magazines. At the start of each of her three marriages - to college boy Paul Mansfield, muscleman Mickey Hargitay, and Hollywood operator Matt Cimber - she thought herself gloriously in love, even though, as Saxton says, love "all her life was a high school word and a high school feeling." After her one real triumph in the comic spoof, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? her films and her personal life became more and more tawdry - pink jaguars and heart-shaped swimming pools, too much booze, lawsuits and a frenzy of lovers - until that sudden awful ending in an automobile crash which decapitated her and left the vultures around her to fight over her body, her estate, and her children. An unexpectedly affecting portrait of a woman devoured by America's sexual fantasies, tacky and sad. (Kirkus Reviews)show more