PEN ARGYL, Pa. – Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Jayne Mansfield, one of Hollywood’s original blonde bombshells.
Mansfield was born in Phillipsburg, New Jersey but spent a good part of her childhood in Pen Argyl.
“She was like Michael Jackson or Madonna. A one-name star all over the world,” said Mansfield expert Frank Ferruccio.
Born Vera Jayne Palmer, Mansfield left a lasting mark on not only pop culture but also on the arm of Ferruccio, who has her head tattooed on his shoulder.
“I can identify with the point of the dream aspect of wanting to be famous. She wanted to be famous more than anything in the world,” he said.
Ferruccio, who has written two books and made a movie about her life, often decorates and takes care of Mansfield’s heart-shaped grave in Pen Argyl.
Fan Sherri Abruzzese paid her respects on the anniversary, as well.
“People do come by and leave trinkets and flowers for her memory. She has not been forgotten,” she said.
Mansfield died on a Louisiana highway in the early morning hours of June 29, 1967.
Her Buick carrying her three children, including actress Mariska Hargitay, as well as her dogs, boyfriend, and lawyer slammed into the back of a tractor trailer.
All three adults died instantly. The kids survived.
Mansfield was in nearly 30 films and appeared in Playboy magazine 30 times.
However, Ferruccio says she never forgot where she came from and would often return to her grandparents Pen Argyl home, where she spent a good part of her childhood.
“She would stand there and sign autographs. Sometimes the line would go all the way down the sidewalk and she wouldn’t turn anyone away,” Ferruccio said.
Ferruccio says Mansfield’s love of the limelight overshadowed a deeply layered woman.
“She had a genius level IQ, could speak five languages fluently, could play the piano and violin at a concert level and yet she became famous for playing a dumb blonde,” he described.
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