While some may say that Kim Kardashian or even Paris Hilton pioneered the modern wave of reality stars who are “famous for being famous,” one could argue that it was Jayne Mansfield who started the movement herself. In fact, as The Hollywood Reporter boldly writes, “if it weren’t for Mansfield then, there would likely be no Kardashians today.”
The blonde star made her big-screen Hollywood debut in 1955, appearing in three films: “Female Jungle,” “Pete Kelly’s Blues,” and “Illegal.” While the roles were definitely smaller, according to Biography, she knew she had to get the media’s attention a different way. In January of 1955, Mansfield was invited to an event for Howard Hughes’ “Underwater,” per The Hollywood Reporter. While sporting a red bathing suit that didn’t leave much to the imagination, Mansfield jumped into the pool (which had photographers and journalists conveniently standing right next to it) and, according to some reports, “had the genius to permit her bathing suit to split open.”
“Ever since ‘Underwater,’ the press just adopted her,” explained Mansfield’s former press secretary, Ray Strait, to The Hollywood Reporter, noting that it helped that the young actor looked like Marilyn Monroe — except she welcomed the paparazzi with open arms. Unfortunately, this availability was Mansfield’s downfall, as well, and it led Fox to loan her out to other studios as punishment, causing the “quality of her films” to worsen slowly.