Answer: Mansfield bar
On June 29, 1967, Jayne Mansfield, an up and coming 34-year old film actress, was traveling to New Orleans from Biloxi, Mississippi, where she had been performing at a local nightclub.
She was in the front seat of a 1966 Buick Electra along with the driver, Ron Harrison, and her boyfriend at the time, Sam Brody. Three of her five children were in the back seat asleep.
At approximately 2:29 a.m., on U.S. Highway 90 east of the Rigolets Bridge, the Buick crashed at high speed into the rear of a tractor-trailer that had slowed behind a truck spraying mosquito fogger, and which was shrouded in the insecticide fog.
The three adults in the front seat were killed instantly. The small car didn’t just rear-end the tractor-trailer; it went completely underneath it, shearing the top of the car off.
Her children, eight-year-old Mickey, six-year-old Zoltan, and three-year-old Mariska, all survived with only very minor injuries.
NB: I have not posted any of the gruesome photos.
Pictures of the accident site are pretty gruesome; a mass of blonde hair sitting all by itself made people wonder if Jayne had been decapitated or had simply lost her wig. The autopsy report indicates major skull damage, but that Mansfield was not decapitated.
Shortly thereafter, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made it mandatory for all semi-truck trailers to be fitted with under-ride bars, also called DOT bars or Mansfield bars. The steel bar hangs from the main cab and is designed to stop a car before it rolls underneath the trailer.
Her daughter, Mariska Hargitay, grew up and played Olivia Benson in the hit TV show Law and Order SVU. She still has a scar from the accident.
From the first episode, I had a nagging feeling that Mariska looked like someone I knew, or had seen before.
When I learned she was the daughter of Jayne Mansfield it all fell into place.
Mariska has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next to her mother, Jayne.
|Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield.|
Her father was Mickey Hargitay, a Hungarian actor
and Mr. Universe in 1955. He played a guest part in Law and Order with Mariska before his death at age 80 in 2006.
While it is tragic that anyone should die so young, her death led to saving thousands of other lives over the years because of the Mansfield bar. I think that would make her happy.