Around this time, in 1966, Mansfield was starting to fall apart. She was relying on substances more and more; she was getting into club brawls and had started performing at cheap burlesque shows. By July of 1966, Mansfield was living with her attorney-turned-boyfriend, Sam Brody.
To call it a toxic relationship is to ignore a lot. The couple got into physical fights, and Brody even mistreated Mansfield’s eldest daughter, who was sixteen at the time. At the same time, Brody’s wife, Beverly, filed for divorce.
A Few Roles to Keep Her Busy
In 1966, Cimber got Mansfield cast in a few odd roles that kept her working. The first was “Single Room Furnished,” a film that required the actress to portray three separate characters. After that movie was completed, Mansfield was cast opposite a fellow blonde bombshell, Mamie Van Doren. Ferlin Husky also joined the low-budget comedy called “The Las Vegas Hillbillys.”
It was her first Western film, and Mansfield joined Husky and other country musicians on a twenty-nine-day tour of major cities. Before filming was set to begin, however, Mansfield had one big condition.
The Battling Blondes
Mansfield told the producers of “The Las Vegas Hillbillys” that she would not “share any screen time with the drive-in's answer to Marilyn Monroe,” a scathing insult to fellow blonde Mamie Van Doren. The producers did as Mansfield asked, meaning the two leading ladies never filmed in the same scene at the same time.
Their characters did appear in the same scene once, but they filmed at different times, to be edited together later. It's unclear exactly why Mansfield was so down on Van Doren, though one possibility is she was upset about the slightly younger star maintaining her youthful body, while Mansfield had to rely on shapeless dresses in order to hide her weight gain after the birth of her fifth child.
Never Far From the Stage
The lady just couldn't keep away from the spotlight. Most likely, she didn't want to. In 1966 she was facing a lull in her career, which is something that plenty of performers, entertainers, and artists go through. She turned her attention back to the theater.
She took on several roles to keep her working and keep her in the public eye, including the production of “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.” After one performance, ex-husband Mickey Hargitay showed up backstage and presented her with a bouquet. Girl, you should have kept that one.
A Highly Visible Career
There's no doubt that Mansfield's tumultuous personal life, her wild publicity antics, and her refusal to stop working led to an affected career. While she had setbacks, there's no doubt that she remained one of the most famous and popular celebrities of the late fifties and sixties. In early 1967, Mansfield filmed what would sadly be her last role.
Gene Kelly directed the bedroom farce comedy, “Guide for the Married Man,” which also starred Inger Stevens, Walter Matthau, and Robert Morse. The opening credits even listed Mansfield as a technical director – she was pretty familiar with married men at that point.