"Not long ago I was talking with Steve Pearce and the subject of Jayne Mansfield came up. If you were around in the 1950s and ‘60s, you probably remember the blonde bombshell who was reported the first “mainstream” star to appear nude in a Hollywood movie (“Promises, Promises”).
What connection could there be between a Hollywood starlet and Greenfield, Ohio, you ask? Well, back in the 1950s the company founded by Edward Lee McClain produced hot water bottles in the likeness of Jayne Mansfield! McClain’s firm, which was known as Tapatco (an acronym for The American Pad and Textile Company) or simply referred to locally as “the pad factory,” had long since seen the need to diversify from making horse collar pads and had branched out into producing life jackets, rubber rafts, clothing for outdoorsmen, camping equipment, caps and other goodies, including the aforementioned curvaceous hot water bottles.
This summer we visited my sister and brother-in-law in Maryland, and somehow the subject of the Jayne Mansfield hot water bottles came up. Don Hay perked up and mentioned that he had one in his possession. I couldn’t believe it, but he opened his garage door and there on a shelf was a little Jayne Mansfield. Her hair was the wrong color, but her proportions looked about right.
In researching the Jayne Mansfield hot water bottles I noticed that the ones on the Internet all had platinum blonde hair and black bikinis, but Don’s Jayne Mansfield was different.
Don explained that his Jayne Mansfield hot water bottle was all one color when he got it – the sort of flesh tone you get with baby dolls and the like. Don himself painted her hair with a kind of auburn colored paint, and he used bright red for her bikini. While not the standard colors, Don’s choices represented the only colors he had available. And I think the paint job looks pretty good too, considering that he painted Jayne when he was about 12 years old and “a little nervous.”
Don came into possession of the Jayne Mansfield hot water bottle through his father, Bob Hay, who worked at Tapatco at the time the products were made in Greenfield.
On the bottom of Jayne’s left foot, there is an imprint that says “Poynter Products Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio 1957.” Apparently the Poynter people farmed this job out to Tapatco, or maybe Poynter was one of the many companies that was in the orbit of E.L. McClain and his successors.
The Jayne bottles had plastic hair, and she wore a “cap” that screwed off to allow filling with hot water. Don’s Jayne is missing her original cap, but he found a replacement in an old Vick’s VapoRub cap that fits perfectly!
A bit of online checking yielded several photos of Jayne Mansfield hot water bottles, as well as a few pictures of the real Jayne in a pool filled with Jayne bottles. Despite rumors to the contrary, the starlet was NOT photographed in the McClain High School natatorium with the Tapatco products. An article and photo in LIFE magazine indicated the pool photo was taken at her home in Hollywood.
By the way, it looks like a genuine Jayne Mansfield hot water bottle can be obtained online for approximately $50. I wonder how much Don Hay’s custom-painted one with a Vicks VapoRub cap is worth!"