A Look At Anton Lavey's Affair With Jayne Mansfield

On June 29, 1967, film star and vaunted "blonde bombshell" Jayne Mansfield was killed in a vehicle collision at the age of 34. According to an urban legend, she was decapitated by the collision when her vehicle slid under a tractor-trailer. This wasn't true, but the reality, according to Snopes, was nearly as gruesome: the accident crushed her skull, "scalping" her. Mansfield and her two adult companions, Sam Brody and Ronnie Harrison, were killed instantly, but her three children, Miklós, Zoltán, and Mariska Hargitay (yes, from "Law and Order") survived.

Mansfield had previously maintained a fairly successful film career, with execs at Twentieth Century Fox attempting to "groom" her to replace the far-from-dependable Marilyn Monroe. Unfortunately, it didn't work, and by the end of her life, Mansfield's career had deteriorated enough that she was forced to appear nude in Playboy and the film "Promises! Promises!" to get attention from the press.

Rumors, of course, began to swirl. Had the death been a mere accident, or was Mansfield cursed? That might seem a tad dramatic, but when you spend your time hanging out with guys in Satan suits and playing with skulls, well, that's what tends to happen.

Mansfield was connected with Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey

In 1966, the year before the accident, Jayne Mansfield ran afoul of self-declared high priest in the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. LaVey, of course, wasn't a "Satanist" in the theological sense — his teachings denied both the existence of God and Satan — but more of a provocateur, using Satan as a symbol for how edgy and rebellious he was. He was, however, not above performing the occasional occult ceremony, often involving altars covered in naked women (via the San Francisco Gate).

He also wasn't above performing the occasional "curse" (though how a Satanic curse works in a world without a literal Satan is anyone's guess), and that, according to Bookforum, was why Mansfield had sought him out in the first place. Embroiled in a bitter custody dispute with her ex-husband, Mansfield had decided she needed some supernatural help, and LaVey was apparently more than happy to oblige. That the resulting photo op resulted in a flurry of publicity was evidently icing on the cake for the aging actress.

It's not clear that LaVey and Mansfield had an affair

In 1992, on Joan Rivers' talk show (posted on YouTube), LaVey's daughter Karla insisted that Mansfield was a practicing Satanist and had indeed had an affair with LaVey. At least part of that would have been news to Mansfield, who publicly identified as Catholic (and, as Shepherd Express reports, said that her dog was, too). While she called LaVey "a genius," she told the press she didn't believe in his teachings and merely found him "interesting" (via Interview).

While there's no direct evidence of an affair between the two, let alone evidence that Satanic curses work (or, y'know, backfire), it's striking that Mansfield's fatal car accident happened a mere 18 days after the last time they were photographed together.

LaVey, for his part, lived for another 30 years and gradually became a parody of himself. Mansfield's longest-lasting legacy, meanwhile, may well prove to be the "Mansfield bar" — a bar hung from the rear ends of tractor trailers to catch car hoods before accidents similar to Mansfield's occur (via Mental Floss).