In 1949, Jayne met her future husband Paul Mansfield at a party on Christmas Eve. Jayne was sixteen years old at the time, and both were popular students at Highland Park High School in Dallas. Just six months later, in May, when Jayne was seventeen and Paul was twenty, the two were married.
Just six months after that, Jayne gave birth to their first child: Jayne Marie Mansfield. A little while after that, Jayne and her husband both enrolled in Southern Methodist University to study acting until 1951, when Jayne took off for Los Angeles for a little while and a summer semester at UCLA.
More Than Blonde Bombshell
Being able to play three instruments and becoming one of the biggest names in Hollywood is much more than just luck and beauty. Mansfield was extremely intelligent and hardworking and exceeded her reputation. Hollywood lumped her in with Monroe as a stereotypical airhead, but it's likely Mansfield could have beaten you handily in a test of brainpower.
It's reported that she had an I.Q. Of 163 (more than good enough for Mensa), and also spoke five languages: English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian. She had the entire world's eyes on her during her career – that takes more than just a winning smile.
Making Her Way to Hollywood
When Mansfield was thirteen years old, she and her mother (Vera Jeffrey Palmer Peers, a former schoolteacher) took a trip to Hollywood for some fun. Together they went to the famous Hollywood Brown Derby. Mansfield spotted one of her favorite national radio stars and just had to get his autograph.
With his signature in-hand, Mansfield knew that one day she would be giving her autograph to others. She even proclaimed it to her mother that hers would be a name to remember. Mansfield had found her path to walk, but she needed some more time to get there.
Her First Brush With Fame
Leaving her daughter and husband in Texas, Mansfield studied at the University of California Los Angeles' School of Theater, Film, and Television, one of the most famous of such programs in the world.
While there, Mansfield decided, practically on a whim, to enter the Miss California contest. She hid the fact that she was married from the contest and won the local round – to us, not much of a surprise.
Working the Small Before the Big Time
By 1952, Jayne had moved back to Austin to be with her husband and daughter. She studied dramatics at the University of Texas. To pay for classes and keep her family fed, she had a few different jobs. She sold books door-to-door, worked as a receptionist for a dance studio, and even sat as a nude model for art classes.
At the university, she joined a campus theatrical society called the Curtain Club, which also included eventual big names such as Tom Jones, Harvey Schmidt, Rip Torn, and Pat Hingle. The society was quite popular, so anyone interested in the arts at the college joined.