Sunday, June 8, 2014

Berowne's 223

(Also for Three Word Wednesday and ABC Wednesday: "V" is for Victory.)

I had a strange feeling when I saw the prompt of a tape machine.  Years ago I owned a TEAC just like that one.  "Where are the tapes of yesteryear?"

Speaking of the past, I was glancing through the paper recently and I saw an article on the actress Mariska Hargitay.

Suddenly I was thrust back a half-century or so, back to when young Berowne was trying to make it as a film maker – documentaries and commercials to order.

I found myself sitting in the dingy waiting room of a small company who had called me there because they needed a film made and I had promised that I could offer something most others couldn’t: I worked cheap.

Hey, working cheap is how you got started.

The place was the Superior Welding Alloys Company and I was hurriedly reading their brochures in an effort to learn what welding alloys were.

Don't mean to gripe but their waiting room was undistinguished, to say the least, so I was sort of amazed to find myself sitting next to someone who was also waiting there to see about a job.


Amazed because she was a young woman about whom it is no exaggeration to say that she presented a spectacular appearance.  In the parlance of the time she was a knockout – not the type of person one would usually find waiting to see about a job with your average welding alloys firm.

We got to chatting – after all, she learned that I was a film producer but how was she to know I was just a beginner? – and she told me of the plan she had carefully worked out to become famous.

Later, when she was known to just about every sentient life form in the land, she seemed to many to be playing the role of a dumb blonde.  But her earlier university grades proved that she had been an intelligent student.

She said she wanted fame.  She wanted to be known.  She wanted stardom.  The agents she had contacted had been unimpressed.  They stalled, wouldn't send her out on a call-back.  Sure, she was something to look at, but it seemed she was not all that special when it came to singing, dancing, acting, etc – the things agents were usually looking for. 

She felt there was a crisis.  She sat down and carefully evaluated herself and decided that since the agents weren’t doing much for her, she’d do this fame thing herself.  She had a small inheritance so she made it her job to spend her days methodically going around to companies – not the big corporations but rather the smaller outfits – and explaining to them that she was available as a model for any of their advertising or promotional photography. 

She didn’t have to be paid much, in some cases nothing.  She just wanted lots of pictures of herself published; she thought this way she’d become known.

Well, it worked.  She gradually became Miss Photoflash, Miss Direct Mail, Nylon Sweater Queen, Hot Dog Ambassador, Miss 100% Pure Maple Syrup, Miss Potato Soup and a page-full of other such titles.   And she got parts in a few films.


She achieved victory: she became known to just about everyone in the country.  Her name was Jayne Mansfield.


Our story takes a dark turn.  In the middle of a June night in 1967, Jayne and her family were being driven to New Orleans when they crashed their 1966 Buick Electra into a huge tractor-trailer that had suddenly slowed in front of them.  She and two others were killed. 




Her three-year-old daughter Mariska survived the crash.  You may be familiar with Mariska Hargitay.  Google tells me that she is best known for her role as NYC Detective Olivia Benson on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a role that has earned her multiple awards and nominations, including an Emmy and Golden Globe.

26 comments:

Helen said...

... and she was brilliant!

Gerry at Strummed Words said...

What in interesting but sad story. How nice that you knew her!

Berowne said...

"Knew her" would be a bit of an exaggeration. I had one conversation with her - but I never forgot it.

Jinksy said...

Stars that pass in the night, what?!

Kathe W. said...

she was brilliant and beautiful....tragic story- especially for her daughter. How sad to lose her mother at such a young age.

freyawrites.com said...

Brilliant. As soon as you mentioned Mariska Hargitay, I had an idea where you were going. And how wonderful for you to have had a conversation with the stunningly intelligent Jayne Mansfield. Just goes to show that amazing good looks can be both a blessing, and a curse.

Magaly Guerrero said...

Wonderful. I was there, sitting with you, looking at a face we weren't expected to see in such a place...

Then we leave the past and jaw drops on my keyboard when you tell me who her daughter is--I'm a hopeless Law&Order: SVU junkie.

Thanks so much for sharing this. My fingers are itching to write a story...

Dana Dampier said...

Wow... I didn't know that little interesting tidbit. It's so unfortunate though about Jayne... she was an extremely smart woman.

Roger Owen Green said...

I was 14 when Mansfield died, and I remember the gruesome details as well as I remember details of my own life. Weird.

Other Mary said...

I always feel sooooo boring after reading of your exploits!

sharplittlepencil.com said...

Mariska's father was the pro (either) wrestler or boxer or weightlifter Mickey Hartigay, no?

Mariska actually looks more like Raquel Welch than her mom. How horrible to survive the crash that took her mom, but thank God she probably doesn't remember.

You have had many brushes with fame, but I believe that is because you seem to take people on their own merits, impressed with neither good looks nor big names. It's a quality I admire. Thanks for this, Berowne! Amy

Berowne said...

Yes, Mickey Hargitay held the title Mr. Universe 1955.

keiths ramblings said...

What an interesting read. As an SVU addict and a huge fan of Mariska Hargitay I was enthralled by your account of meeting her amazing mother. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

Kutamun said...

Excellent yarn spinning , Maestro , real life is always so much more inyeresting than fiction.....something very Shakespearean tragic about all this , you know, like Peaches Geldof ....but what is Stalins dirty little secret ?

Karen S. said...

Oh my goodness, so lucky you, and I didn't realize that was her daughter. I just love watching her, and the show, as well. Lots of years she still has it on every call. Great post today.

Berowne said...

Sharp Little Pencil: "Mariska actually looks more like Raquel Welch than her mom."
Interesting, because Jayne Mansfield, a blonde bombshell, was a natural brunette.

Ann said...

She was a vivacious beauty with a sad story.
Ann

Richard Lawry said...

I didn't know the Jayne Mansfield - Mariska Hargitay connection. An Arkie's Musings

Leslie: said...

I do remember when she died and then when her daughter ended up on SVU (my favourite show) it brought it all back. Mariska Hargitay is a superb actress and I bet she got her talent from her mother...too bad Jayne didn't get stardom from her brains instead of her bosom!

Jae Rose said...

What a tale..I didn't know that about either women..a fine memory shared Berowne

Sheilagh Lee said...

wow cool you met her? She did so much in so little time

Hildred said...

Great posting on this chance encounter, and one never knows when a fleeting meeting will be with you forever.

oldegg said...

As stunning as she was I think that she was the sort of girl my mother warned me about as a boy. Perhaps she shouldn't have blonded her hair!

Eddie Bluelights said...

Fascinating story and I remember with affection Jayne Mansfield.
Such a tragic accident robbed the world of a beautiful lady but she lives on in her equally delightful daughter.
It must be such an experience to actually meet a charasmatic person like that.

Thanks for stopping by earler ~ Eddie

humbird said...

How interesting! What an example of self promotion! Love your writing! Thanks for sharing this amazing story!

Berowne said...

My sincere thanks for the truly remarkable list of comments.

 
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