The Girl Couldn't Help It
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Jayne Mansfield (1933−1967) 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.
Introduction: April 12, 1957, Romanoff's, Beverly Hills
"This is a confection of a book, but that is not to say it is without substance. The same could be said about its subject. With humor and a keen eye for separating fact from the multitude of fiction surrounding Mansfield, Golden provides the first definitive (and positively page-turning!) work on an underrated actress and cult icon. Readers will fall in love with the multi-talented Mansfield who refused to accept failure. Through turbulent romances and career hiccups, Jayne's first love was truly being a celebrity. She embraced her over the top persona with a wildly eccentric home (called the pink palace) to complete her image. She was a fine comedienne and able to laugh at herself. Still, it is a shame few are aware of the depth of emotion and subtlety this bombshell could bring to her performances. Golden's endlessly entertaining, cute yet intelligent, exhaustively researched book is a must for Mansfield devotees and film scholars alike." -- Cynthia Brideson, author of He's Got Rhythm: The Life and Career of Gene Kelly and Ziegfeld and His Follies: A Biography of Broadway's Greatest Producer
"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