JAWS dropped as the platinum blonde Hollywood star wiggled through Kirkgate Market.

It was the day Jayne Mansfield came to town, a Chihuahua tucked under each arm. She called into the Midland Hotel to ‘freshen up’, visited Baildon Moor and ate fish and chips at Harry Ramsden’s in Guiseley.

Jayne had been a 1950s sex symbol, starring in such movies as The Girl Can’t Help It. By the time she arrived in Bradford, in May 1967, she’d had three husbands and five children. Her visit was part of a publicity drive around a a week-long residence at Batley Variety Club, the North’s entertainment capital.

T&A entertainment reporter Peter Holdsworth wrote: “Jayne arrived at Yeadon Airport in a chartered plane. Waiting for her was a black and gold Silver Cloud Rolls-Royce. Before Batley, Jayne appeared at a concert at Leeds Prison. The 400 prisoners who saw her whistled and one shouted out ‘You can share my cell anytime’.”

“Wearing a backless, almost sideless white gown, Jayne made a 20-minute appearance at Batley. Between whispering in ears, stroking cheeks and the occasional peck of a kiss, she cooed through a number of songs.”

In 2012 Jayne’s extraordinary tour was documented in a DVD by entertainment reporter Neil Sean of Mirfield who heard about Jayne’s visit from his dad, a former club comic. “He showed me an ad for her shows at Batley. The comic Max Wall was also on the bill,” Neil told the T&A. “Dad knew Max and took Mum to the club. Max was on first, then Jayne, who sang breathy songs, Marilyn Monroe style.” Her original plan was to play the violin and recite Shakespeare. The booking officer suggested that wouldn’t go down too well.

“I was stunned that she turned up at places like Brighouse fete and Harry Ramsden’s,” said Neil. Intruiged, he tracked down people Jayne met on the tour. The DVD, Jayne Mansfield - From Hollywood To Yorkshire, features Neil’s mum, producer Ann Montini who interviewed the star and said she was “sweet, well-mannered and very switched on”.

What brought her here? “This was the year of flower power; the age of Hollywood blondes was falling out of favour,” said Neil. “With her money drying up and her star fading, Jayne de-camped, with her dogs, children and furs, for a tour of English clubs. Batley Variety Club was huge, she was tapping into the creative energy coming out of the North. She’d met John Lennon to discuss a pop album. Jayne was a shrewd manager who knew the value of PR. She was well aware she’d draw a crowd. If she was around now she’d have her own merchandise and a reality show.”

So it was that Jayne browsed in Kirkgate Market and bought an ice-cream from a van on Baildon Moor. “She loved markets, she was spotted at Dewsbury and Halifax markets,” said Neil. She was also here to develop her acting career.”She wanted to be taken seriously as an actress, but thought she’d be laughed out of the West End, so she had talks in Bradford about doing a play. I think she met someone from Francis Laidler’s company,” said Neil. Two months later Jayne was dead, aged 34.

Emma Clayton