An informal poll of my co-workers last week confirmed her enduring popularity forty-five years after she died in a horrific car crash (despite the urban legend, she was most definitely NOT decapitated). Currently, viewers can watch her daughter Mariska Hargitay play Detective Olivia Benson on the NBC drama Law and Order, a role that has earned her critical acclaim. There have been numerous dramas, biographies, and documentaries about Jayne’s life, and she is widely considered to be one of the most iconic of all Hollywood beauties. So–what can I possibly add to all of that? I’ll tell you what.
I recently interviewed a man named Danny Echols for a series of articles I am writing on the tragic 1977 crash of Southern Airways Flight 242 in New Hope, GA. Danny is a retired Battalion Chief from the Cobb County Fire Department’s Fourth Battalion, and he was a first responder on the afternoon of the plane crash–seventy-two people lost their lives that day. As we were discussing various ways to raise funds for the future Flight 242 Memorial, a vintage 8×10 publicity shot of Jayne Mansfield fell out of the photo album he was showing me. I immediately took note.
Mr. Echols explained he was a young fire department lieutenant around the time of the crash, in charge of training new recruits. He told me he found the forgotten photograph in a derelict house during a routine pre-inspection for a rookie fire training drill. He admired it, made a note on the back for future reference, and stored it away for safe-keeping. We had a good laugh–after all these years, Jayne Mansfield can still surprise and delight!
Read it in full here and view the photo: “The Long Lost Navy Photograph of Jayne Mansfield”–by Clifford Davids