The Girl Can’t Help It
Jayne Mansfield once lived in Oak Cliff.
Before she married Mariska Hargitay’s dad, when her name was still Vera Jayne Palmer, she was a student at North Dallas High School.
She dated and married Oak Cliff native and Sunset High School grad Paul Mansfield immediately following graduation from their respective high schools, and the newlyweds lived at his parents’ house on Canterbury Court for awhile.
If you’re not familiar, Mansfield was an actress of the 1950s blonde bombshell variety. While Marylin Monroe wanted to be taken seriously as an actor and studied with Lee Stasberg, Jayne was happy to fit the Marylin mold. “The Girl Can’t Help It,” stars Mansfield and Tom Ewell as a talent agent who is hired to help a gangster turn his girlfriend into a star. The film came out a year and a half after Ewell’s performance opposite Monroe in “The Seven Year Itch.”
“The Girl Can’t Help It” is notable for its place in rock ‘n’ roll history. It was one of the first films to feature rock ‘n’ roll music and has performances from Little Richard, Fats Domino and others. It’s the movie that introduced The Beatles to rock ‘n’ roll.
The full movie is available for free on YouTube. Don’t let the gimmick at the beginning fool you — it’s in letterbox format and has color.
Mars Needs Women
Craig, famous for playing Bat Girl in the 1960s “Batman” TV series, attended Greiner Middle School and then Adamson and Sunset high schools but didn’t graduate because, she told the Dallas Morning News in 2011, she was missing “half a PE credit.” From that interview:
We moved to Texas when I was 14. I was in the top half of the ninth grade at Greiner Middle School for that half grade, then I went to Adamson for a semester. Then we moved to another part of Oak Cliff, and I went to Sunset for the three years. The funny thing about the PE credit is, I was going to the Edith James School of Ballet, and she’d have recitals at the art museum, and [the PE teacher] would come see me dance my little legs off, and then I’d come in to PE class, wrapped up, and claim I’d sprained and couldn’t play a sport.
Craig returned to Dallas to film “Mars Needs Women,” which was set in Houston but filmed in Dallas. The actress, who got her start in ballet, was never that far from home. She even got married at Christ Episcopal Church on Tenth Street in 1960.
“Mars Needs Women” is now streaming on Amazon Prime.
Dallas is incredible. How many beautiful women can one city have?
Film star Linda Darnell was born in 1923 and raised in Oak Cliff. She attended Sunset High School when she was Monetta, which is also a good name for a quarantine baby, jus’ sayin’. But she was already appearing in feature films by age 15.
Everyone finds her irresistible in “Fallen Angel,” from director Otto Preminger in 1945, which is streaming for free on YouTube.