Old Wives' Tales
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Claim: The car crash that killed Jayne Mansfield also decapitated her.
Origins: In the early morning hours of
The precise nature of the injuries inflicted in this accident would not usually bear thinking about, but rumors about the death of one of the passengers was turned into the stuff of contemporary lore when it became "common knowledge" that Jayne Mansfield had been decapitated. It is because this belief is as widespread as it is that this topic merits study, and it is due to the nature of the rumor that the discussion needs to be as detailed as it does.
Although Mansfield's actual mode of death was gruesome, she was not beheaded. According to the police report on the accident, "the upper portion of this white female's head was severed." Her death certificate notes a
As gruesome as this mode of death was, it at least had the benefit of being quick. Mansfield probably never felt what happened to her, and because of the sharply reduced visibility conditions on the road that night, she likely had only an instant of "We're going to crash!" shock to cope with before the impact.
Kenneth Anger's 1975 Hollywood Babylon contains a controversial photo of the wrecked Electra which shows Mansfield's dead dog lying beside the car, but the item in the shot that arouses discussion is what appears to be a blonde wig. Was it truly a wig, or was it the top part of Mansfield's head?
Some have chosen to attribute Mansfield's early demise (she was 34) to a curse somehow connected to the International Church of Satan, an institution founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey. Little is known about the rumored curse, but LaVey is on record as saying it was worked upon her by a consort. Another version has LaVey laying it onto Mansfield's boyfriend Sam Brody, supposedly because Brody was disruptive during Church services and was making Mansfield's life a hell on earth. That the alleged curse also ended up taking the life of one it was meant to help is deeply ironic.
Barbara "jayne err" Mikkelson
Last updated: 10 August 2007
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