Jayne Mansfield's Death Changed How Trucks Are Built
Jayne Mansfield was an icon of the '50s and '60s, known more for her breasts than her comedic ability. She's often compared to Marilyn Monroe, and sadly, that includes suffering a tragic death. If you're not aware of what happened -- or you are, but mostly from urban legends -- Mansfield's boyfriend was driving her, three of her children, and her lawyer to a hotel when they suffered a fatal collision.
He didn't see a slow-moving tractor-trailer ahead because a cloud of anti-mosquito spray obscured his view. The car slid under the trailer, instantly killing the three front passengers. You can see why the story became conspiracy fodder. How does a car simply go under a tractor-trailer like that? That's a Hollywood-level stunt right there. Something shady must be going on, right? It was Big Mosquito again, wasn't it? The bastards! First they got James Dean, now this!
The reality, as always, is far more boring and sad. Today, trucks are built in such a way to prevent this exact thing from occurring, but back then, nobody had even considered that they might need to be. That changed after people, horrified by Mansfield's death, called for trucks and trailers to have some kind of rear bar to stop cars from going under in the event of a collision. In 1998, rear underside bars -- commonly known as Mansfield bars -- finally became part of federal law. Her death was tragic, but it's also weirdly inspiring. May we all die so spectacularly that whole new safety equipment must be invented in our names.