Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield were one of the most famous Hollywood power couples of their day. Together, they brought daughter Mariska Hargitay into the world, who would later follow in her parent’s footsteps by pursuing a career in acting . You probably know her best for her role as Olivia Benson on the NBC drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Mickey Hargitay, a famous bodybuilder and gifted acrobat; Although his wife, Jayne Mansfield clearly the bigger star of the two, he did attain minor celebrity status as well. Mostly due to the fact that he married to one of the biggest names in Tinseltown during that era.
Hargitay and Mansfield were a lot like Hollywood’s version of Tarzan and Jane. They could often posing in skimpy animal-print outfits while showing off tremendous feats of physical adeptness. Later on in their story, they often photographed staring longingly into each other’s eyes as they gushed about their children in interviews and protected them from the vampiristic paparazzi who followed them around town ceaselessly.
They were two gorgeous people, and the public of the late 1950s and early 1960s couldn’t get enough of them. Sadly, as great of a team as they seemed to make, their seemingly iron-clad relationship destined for tragedy. Join FactsVerse as we take a closer look at the factors that brought about the tragic end of Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield’s romance. This is tale with many unexpected twists and turns. If you aren’t already familiar with the fates of these two stars, you’re in for a bit of a tearjerker.
From Euro Mr. Universe To American Star
Long before Arnold Schwarznegger went from from being a bodybuilding meathead to action-movie star to Governor of the state of California, another muscle man from Europe successfully made the transition from being a male bodybuilding contest winner to star of the big screen. This former Mr. Universe turned Hollywood actor, Mickey Hargitay, even captured the attention of one of Hollywood’s biggest sex symbols of that era, Jayne Mansfield.
Miklos “Mickey” Hargitay, was born in Budapest in 1926. He was one of four children who were raised by their athletic father. As such, Mickey and his brothers likewise raised as athletes.
While he was still young, Hargitay and his brothers formed an acrobatic act that proved to be quite popular throughout Hungary. They even got the chance to perform at the largest opera house in Budapest.
Hargitay introduced to the sport of speed skating by his brother and in 1946, he won the Middle European Championship at the 500 meter and 1500 meter races. He further placed 2nd in the 5,000-meter race. Hargitay was also a fairly proficient player of football as well as an accomplished underground fighter during the second world war.
In 1947, Hargitay left Hungary behind and set out to the United States where he settled in Cleveland, Ohio. It was there that he met his first wife, an acrobat named Mary Birge. With her, Hargitay had a daughter named Tina who was born in 1949.
For some time he worked as a capenter and plumber while also performing alongside Birge in an acrobatic act. Hargitay became interested in bodybuilding after seeing a cover of a magazine that featured Steve Reeves, the famously ripped actor who played Hercules.
In 1955, Hargitay became the National Amateur Body-Builders’ Accociation’s Mr. Universe. After winning that title and divorcing his first wife; Hargitay joined Mae West’s muscleman revue over at the Latin Quarter nightclub of New York. It was there that he met his second wife, Jayne Mansfield, whom he inevitably would marry in 1958.
Mansfield showed up at the nightclub one evening to enjoy a bite to eat. When she asked what she would like to eat, she told her server that she would like a steak as well as the ‘man on the left’. It was lust at first sight – but that lust would ultimately give way to a great deal of love and connection.
What Jayne Mansfield Wanted She Got
It didn’t take long after Jayne Mansfield laid her eyes on Mickey Hargitay for the two to fall madly, deeply in love. And seemingly overnight, the couple married. These two stars combined formed one of the most visually appealing power couple that have ever taken Hollywood by storm.
The duo of aesthetically pleasing people went on to appear in a string of films together as co-stars. A few of these films include 1960s The Loves of Hercule, 1963s Promises! Promises!, and 1964s Primitive Love.
Even though the two enjoyed a great deal of both personal and professional successes, Hargitay still managed to keep a level head about things. He was once quoted as saying that even though he enjoyed what he did as a career, he never desired to be anything more than what he was.
Hargitay was quite the gentleman. He exuded genuineness and humility despite the fact that he had a ton of accolades and successes under his belt. Regardless of all that success, you would have never gotten that impression from him if you met him face to face. According to people that privileged with knowing Hargitay personally, he just seemed like a regular guy.
Their Marriage Wasn’t What Either Star Expected
Let’s rewind a bit back to Mansfield and Hargitay’s nupitals. After Hargitay propose to Mansfield in November 1957; he and his bride-to-be began planning their wedding and deciding which A-Listers would be invited to the event.
The first thing that Mansfield had to do was finalize her divorce from her first husband, Paul Mansfield. She managed to accomplish this just five days before she walked down the aisle.
In January of 1958, the couple held a press briefing where they announced that their marriage would be a ‘quiet’ affair. Which was a bit unusual considering how Jayne typically embraced the spotlight.
They picked the dated January 13, 1958 to exchange their vows because they met at the 13th day of the month. And the number 13 also tied to Hargitay’s Mr. Universe win and his acquisition of American Citizenship.
The pair allegedly had invited 100 guests to the event. Each guest received their invites on pink pieces of parchment – pink being Manfield’s signature color. Most of these invitees is there fellow celebrities. And even though Hargitay wasn’t thrilled about the idea of having 100 people at the wedding, he went along with it anyways.
Apparently, none of the stars that Manfield had invited showed up to the ceremony. But even so, things still managed to get out of hand. Somehow 100 invites turned into thousands. Reportedly, Mansfield barely even managed to make it to her own wedding due to the thick crowd of people that were encircling the even hoping to get in.
Ultimately 1,500 guests and 2,000 reporters were in attendance when the couple finally tied the knot.
Cracks Began To Form In Their Relationship
While Mansfield and Hargitay enjoyed a relatively happy and prosperous marriage for the first few years as they lived at their Beverly Hills mansion. Which came to known as The Pink Palace, troubles began to arise that would ultimately prove to be the undoing of their union.
Before their marriage began to sour, however, Jayne and Mickey had 3 children together. By the early 60s, though, Jane began seeking the comfort of other men outside of her marriage. 20th Century Fox also notably didn’t approve of Mansfield and Hargitay’s marriage.
Mansfield’s career had began in 1950s when she carefully groomed by the studio to become the succesor to Marilyn Monroe. Her image carefully maintained by the studio and resulted in a string of roles for the bombshell in comedies where she essentially played the classic dumb blonde.
It through this image coupled with her iconic measurements that Mansfield was able to craft this larger-than-life image in the early 50s. This image continued to work for her and 20th Century Fox until she married Hargitay.
The studio wanted their sex-symbol star to be unmarried. Marriage didn’t fit in with their image of her as a submissive sexpot. But even though, they tried their best to present her as some kind of bimbo, in truth; Mansfield was quite intelligent – some reports even put her IQ at 168.
But even though Mansfield managed to outsmart 20th Century Fox and ultimately marry the man of her dreams; After giving birth to her children, as we mentioned previously, she started carrying on affairs with some of her fellow co-stars.
One of these infidelities included a fling with Mansfield’s It Happened in Athens co-stars Trax Colan in 1960. During the production of her film Panic Button in 1962, Mansfield also had a passionate affair with the films production manager Enrica Bomba.
At that point, she decided to file for a divorce from Hargitay. The pair reconciled in 1963, but that didn’t solve their problems. Nor did Mansfield stop getting involved in romances with other men. Around this time, Mansfield reportedly even hooked up with President John F. Kennedy – although this accusation has come under question in the years that have followed.
In 1964, Mansfield filed for divorce once again – this time announcing the news to the public with Hargitay by her side, unaware that she was planning to leave him.
After successfully divorcing Hargitay, Mansfield got married to her third husband, Matt Cimber. Hargitay, likewise, would go on to marry his third wife, Ellen Siano, in 1967.
Hargitay would remain with Siano until his death in 2006 at the age of 80. Mansfield, however, would tragically die much sooner than he would.
In 1967, Manfield got into an automobile accident while driving to New Orleans. It’s after making an appearance at an engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi. She and her driver, 20 year old Ronnie Harrison, as well as her attorney and companion, Sam Brody, were killed when the Buick they were in crashed. Due to the high speed into the back of a tractor-trailer; That had suddenly slowed down when it came upon a truck that was spraying mosquito foggier that clouded it’s visibility.
Mansfield’s three children, Miklos, Zoltan, and Mariska, were in the backseat of the car and fortunately survived the ordeal. Manfield was only 34 years old when she died.
What a tragic ending to such a highly publicized life and career. Mickey Hargitay was reportedly devastated when he learned the fate of his ex-wife. Their marriage may not have worked out in the end, but he never stopped caring about her.
Anyway, were just about out of time for this video. But that just means that it’s now your turn to let your voice be heard. Do you think that Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield were as significant as a Hollywood power couple as the media made them out to be?. And can you think of any other Tinseltown power couples from the late 50s and early 60s that were equally as prolific as they were? Share your thoughts in the comments section down below.
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