"Jayne Mansfield upstages Sophia Loren". Read Pauline Small's letter published in today's issue of The Times

Intellect author Pauline Small argues her point in today's issue of The Times:


Sir, I was intrigued to read your correspondent’s account “Jayne Mansfield upstages Sophia Loren” (“The story behind the picture”, Magazine, Oct 17). I, too, researched this photo shoot for my book Sophia Loren: Moulding the Star (2009), but my interpretation of these shots was entirely the opposite to that of your article.

Certainly, Loren had just arrived in Hollywood, and this event was designed to mark the occasion in glittering style. Before this she had for some years competed in a kind of “battle of the busts” in Italy with Gina Lollobrigida with the aim of becoming Italy’s most successful and popular female star. This trip to Hollywood came about as a result of what Life magazine termed “the biggest contract ever struck for a non-Hollywood star” — to make films with Paramount.

Thus, in the photos in your magazine, Loren sits among the leading lights of Hollywood in the full knowledge that her career is in the ascendancy. I would argue instead that Jayne Mansfield’s opportunism was read, even at the time, as just this: she has the look of paying court to Loren, surely destined for a much more lucrative career than poor Mansfield was ever capable of achieving.


Pauline Small
Film Department, Queen Mary, University of London




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