June 29, 1967
New Orleans, Louisiana
Actress Jayne Mansfield, attorney Sam Brody, and driver Ronnie Harrison are killed in a car accident
The trio of adults were driving with three of Mansfield’s children, including future Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay. The children were asleep in the car’s backseat at the time of the accident.
Around 2:25 a.m., a truck spraying anti-mosquito chemicals was slowly making its way along the highway, causing a tractor-trailer to slow down as well. The dense fog from the spray limited visibility and Mansfield’s car struck the back of the semi with enough speed to lodge the car completely under the trailer. All three adults died instantly. The children, because they were lying down, escaped with minor physical injuries.
Rumors quickly spread that Mansfield was either decapitated or had the top of her head sheared off after a photo from the scene showed what appeared to be Mansfield’s hair in the mangled wreck. In actuality, the hair was from her wig, though pieces of her hair and scalp may have also been attached.
Mansfield’s death contributed to a new safety feature being added to tractor trailers: a DOT (Department of Transportation) bumper or ICC (Interstate Commerce Commission) bar, also referred to as a “Mansfield bar,” used to prevent a car from rolling under a trailer.