In 1957, Paramount Pictures hosted a dinner party of Hollywood elite at Romanoff’s restaurant in Beverly Hills to welcome Italian actress Sophia Loren to Tinseltown. Her encounter with Jayne Mansfield would cause an international sensation that endures to this day.
Meanwhile, Jayne Mansfield, who was already known for her well-timed publicity stunts, was being billed by 20th Century Fox as the studio’s “blonde bombshell” successor to reigning Hollywood queen Marilyn Monroe.
According to Loren, Mansfield was the last person to arrive at the dinner that night. Not wasting any time on formalities, she made a bee line straight for Loren’s table, positioning herself between the guest of honor and her dinner companion, actor Clifton Webb.
Mansfield’s deliberately provocative outfit for the night was a backless satin dress in her signature pink hue, featuring a deep plunging neckline worn without a bra.
As Mansfield soaked up the attention of the entire room, photographers Delmar Watson and Joe Shere snapped pictures of the encounter, forever capturing the images of Sophia Loren casting a sideways glance at Jayne Mansfield’s ample bosom spilling out of her dress.
Fifty-seven years later, in November 2014, Loren recounted the incident in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
“All of cinema was there, it was incredible. And then comes in Jayne Mansfield, the last one to come. For me, that was when it got amazing. She came right for my table. She knew everyone was watching. She sat down. And now, she was barely … Listen. Look at the picture. Where are my eyes? I’m staring at her nipples because I am afraid they are about to come onto my plate. In my face you can see the fear. I’m so frightened that everything in her dress is going to blow—BOOM!—and spill all over the table.”
Fortunately for Loren, the contents of Manfield’s dress did not in fact blow out and spill all over the table. However, the photos of this infamous encounter have been blowing the minds of people for more than sixty years and will continue to do so forevermore.
For a more visual re-telling of this fascinating tale, check out the featured photo series below.