The Devil and Jayne Mansfield.

Photograph of Jayne Mansfield supposedly participating in a Satanic ritual with the creator of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. Publicity stunt? Most definitely.

“If you’re going to do something wrong, do it big, because the punishment is the same either way.” — Jayne Mansfield (1933 – 1967).

Long before Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian, there was the original publicity-seeking, trash-talking sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield. Notorious for her openly naughty behaviour and 40D-21-36 physique, the shrewd career woman Mansfield seldom missed an opportunity to dismiss her Hollywood rivals, namely Marilyn Monroe and Mamie Van Doren. Of the media’s constant comparison of Mansfield to her blonde bombshell competitors, she famously remarked: “I don’t know why you people [the press] like to compare me to Marilyn or that girl, what’s her name, Kim Novak. Cleavage, of course, helped me a lot to get where I am. I don’t know how they got there.” Meee-ow, Ms. Mansfield.

Since her gruesome death by car accident in 1967, many legends have emerged around Jayne Mansfield. One of these concern her supposed relationship with Anton LaVey, the American founder of the Church of Satan and author of The Satanic Bible. As with many legends, this one was most assuredly manufactured:

LEGEND: Jayne Mansfield, Hollywood sex symbol and actress, was a card-carrying Satanist and had an affair with Anton LaVey.

REALITY: Publicity agent Tony Kent, an associate of Ed Webber, arranged the meeting between Mansfield and Anton LaVey as a publicity stunt. LaVey was smitten with the actress. Mansfield, who made no secret of her many affairs, denied knowing LaVey intimately, and no associate of hers has ever confirmed any supposed romance. In a 1967 interview she said, “He had fallen in love with me and wanted to join my life with his. It was a laugh.” According to LaVey’s publicist Edward Webber, Mansfield would ridicule her Satanic suitor by calling from her Los Angeles home and seductively teasing him while her friends listened in on the conversation. LaVey’s public claims that he had an affair with Mansfield began only after Mansfield’s death in an automobile accident, which he also claimed was the result of a curse he had placed on her lover Sam Brody.

SOURCES: Edward Webber (interview by Aquino 6/2/91); interview with Mansfield quoted in Jayne Mansfield by May Mann, Pocket Books, 1974.

Satanist or not, I find it difficult not to adore Mansfield’s calculated naughtiness and shameless self-promotion. She knew fully well what the public wanted, and she served them up with a wink and a plunging neckline. I also love the fact that she totally dissed the head of the Church of Satan — talk about having real chutzpah. Here’s Mansfield performing a kooky little “hula dance”, for your viewing pleasure: