Behind the camera: Hollywood Paparazzi
Photo Summary: Sophia Loren looks worryingly at Jayne Mansfield’s cleavage
Picture Taken: April 1957
Italian-French film star Sophia Loren had dazzled the world at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival. A few years later Paramount had arranged an official welcome party for her when she arrived in Hollywood. All of cinema was there including blonde bomb shell Jayne Mansfield who was famous for her movies “The Girl Can’t Help It” and “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”. Always one to make an entrance Mansfield pranced around the table in her low cut dress allowing the Hollywood Paparazzi to get this picture of Sophia Loren looks worryingly at Jayne Mansfield’s cleavage.
Taking the Picture
Sophia Loren has had a long and celebrated career as an international film star. Celebrated by her peers she won several awards including the academy award for Best Actress in 1962. After she started raising her family in the 70s she slowed her career down but did a few movies later in life. In 2003 Sophia Loren along with Mikhail Gorbachev, Prokofiev, Beintus, Bill Clinton, Kent Nagano and the Russian National Orchestra she even won the Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album For Children, Peter & The Wolf: Wolf Tracks
While doing PR for her new autobiography, Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow: My Life, Sophia Loren has talked about this dinner.
She came right for my table. She knew everyone was watching. She sat down. And now, she was barely… Listen. Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face, you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table.
They took a number of photos but none as famous as this one.
Published around the world, most media outlets censored the picture. In her native Italy, the magazines Il Giorno and Gazzetta del Popolo printed the shot only after retouching them so that it appeared her cleavage was covered. Only Il Giornale d’Italia printed them uncensored.
Even at 80-years-old in 2015 Sophia Loren still gets requests to sign this photo but refuses out of respect to Mansfield who died in a horrible car crash in 1967.
Before becoming a movie star Jayne Mansfield had a successful Broadway career. Her film career had its ups and downs as well as plenty of controversy, like when she was the first lead actress to go topless in the 1963 hit, Promises! Promises!. While her box office pull dropped she remained a popular celebrity who made news wherever she went.
Ten years after her dinner with Sophia Loren, Jayne Mansfield was doing an engagement at the Gus Stevens Supper Club in Biloxi, Mississippi. On June 29, 1967, at approximately 2:25 am Mansfield and her family were returning after the event. A traffic jam caused a semi to slow down and her 1966 Buick Electra 225 slammed into the raised semi truck, shearing off the top of the car and instantly killing all the adults in the car while sparing the smaller children. This accident caused the laws to be changed in the trucking industry. Strong steel bars on the rear of semi-trucks were made mandatory so that they can stop the same thing happening in other rear end accident victims. Although the industry was slow to adopt these bars they eventually became standard and are now known as “Mansfield bars.”
Mansfield didn’t attain the Marilyn Monroe level of fame after her death but is still remembered by the millions of people who grew up with her. Newer generations are more familiar with Mansfield’s daughter, Mariska Hargitay, who plays the iconic role of New York City sex crimes Sergeant Olivia Benson on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.