Source: This piece was originally posted at The Daily Review
At risk of sounding old here, when I was growing up in the 1980s and even when I was in high school in the early 1990s. network original movies that were made and produced by the networks, were actually worth watching. CBS, NBC, and ABC, all had their own movie companies that were part of their entertainment divisions and had one night a week and sometimes multiple nights if they were showing a mini-series where they should show two-hour movie and sometimes longer than that. The networks would produce their own movies and of course would show movies that were from Hollywood and perhaps had been out for a year or so, or longer.
Very similar to what HBO, Showtime and others do on cable. Probably watched 5-6 of James Bond series of movies in the summer of 1992 alone on ABC. The networks did this because they were good at it and knew what movies to pick and how to promote them and what kind of cast they could put together and so-forth. But also because cable wasn’t as dominant in the 1980s as it became in the 1990s. CBS, NBC, and ABC, were worried about each other. And not so much what HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, TNT, USA, etc, were doing on cable. Because the cable networks simply didn’t have the resources that the broadcast networks had back then. And to certain extent today as well, but cable networks are much powerful and influential today than they were back then.
I only mention all of this because I’m trying to bore you into a coma. Especially if you weren’t even born yet in the 1980s. Actually, because the Jayne Mansfield Story was a TV network movie that CBS put together with the producers, directors, creators, and writers of the movie. And The Jayne Mansfield Story and I’m only 4 years old when it came out in October, 1980 so I didn’t see it and only finally heard about it a year or so ago and saw a video for it on YouTube and the finally got to see the whole movie on cable (of course) on Get-TV last February and saw it again a few months after that.
And this was a network movie where you have Loni Anderson as the lead actress playing Jayne Mansfield and Arnold Schwarzenegger playing her husband and long time lover Mickey Hargitay. (The father of Mariska Hargitay) Loni was already a star at this point with her guest appearances on Threes Company in the late 1970s playing Jack Tripper’s love interest. And then she lands WKRP in Cincinnati in 1978. (One of the best sitcoms of all-time) Arnold wasn’t a star as an actor yet, but he was a superstar professional bodybuilder and already well-known at this point. Mickey Hargitay ws a superstar bodybuilder before become an actor as well.
This is a very good and funny movie and a lot of that has to do with Loni Anderson. Who has great comedic ability and one of the top comedic actresses of her generation at least. And she happens to playing a very funny woman in Jayne Mansfield who was very funny in real-life both intentionally and unintentionally, because she was so adorable and very immature and then add her comedic timing and you had a very funny woman who might still be working today had it not had been for her tragic car accident in 1967.
The movie covers Jayne’s life from when she became star in the early 1950s looking for work and basically forcing herself on her future agent Bob Garrett (played by Ray Buktenica) and he tells her if he’s going to represent Jayne that she’s going to have to change her hair and a few other things. But sees potential in her as a comedian. And the movie goes from Jayne being discovered in the early 1950s where Hollywood wasn’t ready for her alway up to her fall and struggling to find work in the early and mid 1960s, to her tragic death in 1967.
Loni Anderson is just plain hot, sexy, adorable and funny as Jayne Mansfield. She’s as cute as a little girl with personality to match, but with body of a goddess with those legs, curves, chest and everything else, as well as the face. Arnold playing Jayne’s wife is also great as a very loving and caring husband of Jayne who tries to look out for her best interests and tries to manage her immatureness and irresponsible behavior, but fails at both and they split up in the movie.
I believe Jayne Mansfield in real-life would have been proud for how Loni played her and at least give her credit for doing such a great and accurate job. Because I think knew herself real well and didn’t try to be anyone other than herself even if she seemed overly adorable and even childish to even the people who loved and cared about her like Mickey Hargitay and her business people. This is a very entertaining movie that covers the struggles as Jayne making it as a great comedic actress, but someone who also wanted to be taken seriously in Hollywood and get serious parts with more meaning.
TV Fanatic: The Jayne Mansfield Story 1980- CBS Wednesday Night Movie
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