There never seemed to be a shortage of photographers around when Jayne went for her Blackwell fittings and, Mansfield being Mansfield, one wonders if she viewed the whole thing as a grand publicity stunt: she had been publicly pilloried for her style by this man, then charmed him into becoming her personal designer! If this was the case, it was a two-way street: Richard Blackwell could never be described as one who shied away from publicity, and though the two seemed like chalk and cheese on paper, he truly met his ideal partner in crime in La Mansfield.
It was a successful partnership for a few years; and then there came a rift. Jayne signed on to do a quickie comedy called Promises! Promises! (1963) - the main selling point of which was a series of scenes where she appeared topless. The furor this caused may seem unfathomable today, but cannot be underestimated - obscenity charges were leveled, movie theaters were threatened with cease and desist papers, even the custody of Jayne's children was challenged. It all made for reams of publicity, of course, but not necessarily good publicity - even if they spelled your name correctly. How does this involve Mr. Blackwell? Well, besides being a publicity hound extraordinaire, Jaynie was also well-known for her thrift: she furnished her famous Pink Palace almost entirely on freebies, and in lieu of charging a fee for making a personal appearance at a supermarket or department store, often walked away with thousands of dollars' worth of free merchandise! So when Promises! Promises!'s meager budget wouldn't allow for a costume designer, Jayne simply wore her own custom-designed Blackwell wardrobe - and then had Mr. Blackwell's name listed in the credits, and, of course, the publicity materials.
Jayne may have thought she was doing the right thing by crediting Blackwell, whether he was aware of it or not; but Blackwell was furious at being associated with what was essentially a glorified nudie film. He severed his ties with the Pink Goddess, and by 1964, she was back on his Worst Dressed List. But time heals all wounds, and when Blackwell passed away in 2008, a lovely, demure Jayne Mansfield graced the back cover of his memorial service program. "To Richard," she wrote in her looping, heart-dotted hand, "my fantastic, adorable designer. Love, Jayne."
For DONNA LETHAL, of course!