In March 1967 my boss, at Rolls Royce Hire Co. (which was based in Chelsea, London) called me into his office and said “I’ve got a job for you, but it means being away from home for a few weeks, what do you think?” “ Fine”, I said, “What’s the job?”
He then went on to tell me that Jayne Mansfield, the American actress, was flying to the UK to begin a two part tour of clubs in the North of England “You will be assigned to her for the duration. Her party arrives on Friday 24th you will have all the details printed out ready for you on the Tuesday before”
I was waiting when Jayne arrived at Heathrow Airport and within minutes of walking off the plane she had already caused controversy. This was because Sam Brody, who accompanied her on the journey, had carried Jayne’s two pet Chihuahua dogs through customs in Jayne’s leopard skin coat, which he was wearing at the time.
Having been pulled up by two officials, Brody said that the dogs were cold and that he wasn’t trying to conceal them. They accepted his story but, the dogs were sent to a quarantine centre.
I then collected Jayne, her youngest son Antonio, and Brody and drove to them to the Savoy hotel.
Later that day I drove Jayne to Carnaby Street where a local shop had custom made a crocheted see-through dress especially for her. She wore it that very night when I drove her and Sam to the Playboy Club. Rather surprisingly, as I opened the car door for them, Jayne said “Take off your hat, Robbie, and join us”. This was a first for me, but I did as she asked. I didn’t drink at the time and in any case, I was still on duty. It was quite amusing to watch the faces of many of those in the Club as they recognised her. I remember feeling rather proud I was with them.
It ended up a late night.Finally, I got them back to the hotel, and drove home after what had been an exhausting day. I needed sleep, as I was driving up to Newcastle the next day.
The following day, Saturday 25th March, Jayne appeared on popular BBC TV show Juke Box Jury alongside fellow panelists Lulu, Pete Murray and Jimmy Saville.
It had been decided that Jayne and her party would travel to Newcastle by train the following day, and that I would drive up early enough to meet them at the station. Arriving in Newcastle she got off from the train and, spotting the photographers, jumped onto a nearby luggage trolley and posed for the waiting press. Meanwhile, I was supervising their entire luggage to be loaded onto a van to be taken to their hotel. Far too much to be stowed in the Rolls Silver Cloud that I was driving
From there it was on to her hotel, the Five Bridges, in Gateshead.
She had been booked to play various nightclubs in Newcastle, South Shields, Stockton-on-Tees, and Middlesbrough. The first week she would be playing the Newcastle club La Dolce Vita, combining with clubs La Strada and The Latino in South Shields, following in the second week with stints at Tito’s in Stockton and Club Marimba in Middlesbrough.
I have little recollection of the period between 27th March and the 16th April 1967, other than it was very hectic, rushing about between shows, publicity events, hotels and trying to catch up with sleep and getting something to eat.
I do recall, however, that there were some uncomfortable moments, when I had Ms Mansfield and Mr Brody in the car. There would be little niggles and arguments, with Mr Brody doing most of the talking. I couldn’t quite catch the crux of their conversation, but observation through my rearview mirror told me that he was obviously annoyed with her about something. One time when I driving Jayne from the hotel to one of the clubs, she was on her own. She looked upset and I asked her if everything was OK? She just said “Oh, he just bloody won’t let me do anything!” I didn’t comment back but assumed she meant Mr Brody.
I recall also, that her cabaret performances weren’t going down with the audiences that they had hoped. There were problems as well with her being late for rehearsals and some shows.
Eventually, after some discussions to which I wasn’t privy to, I understood that her contract was being terminated and that we were to return to London.
I suspected that, as my services, together with the Rolls Royce I was driving, were part of that contract, would mean that my services would no longer be required. When we got back to London that, indeed, turn out to be the case.Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in