‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Nearly Lost Her Stepmom After Losing Her Mom at 3

by Samantha Whidden

Although she lost her mother, Jayne Mansfield, at the age of three, “Law & Order: SVU” leading lady Mariska Hargitay once revealed that she nearly lost her stepmom just a few years later.

While speaking to “E! True Hollywood Story” in 2008, Mariska Hargitay revealed her stepmom, Ellen, was injured while being a flight attendant. The plane she was on was hit with turbulence which killed one passenger and caused injuries to her and others. 

As she recalled more details about the ordeal, Hargitay reflected on her and her brothers going to Dallas to meet their father. That’s when she knew something was wrong. They arrived at the hospital just to feel the same kind of emotions they felt when their mother died in a car accident. 

“Those are tough emotions for kids to deal with, especially that specifically,” Mariska Hargitay explained. “To have that, you know almost happen twice is – I don’t know if there are words for It, but it was really scary for us.”

Luckily, Mariska Hargitay’s stepmom survived the incident and remained with her father until his passing at the age of 80 in 2006. 

Mariska Hargitay Reveals How Losing Her Mother So Young Taught Her Valuable Lessons 

While speaking to Glamour in 2021, Mariska Hargitay opened up about how her mother’s death impacted her life, including the valuable lessons she learned. 

“I think I learned about crisis very young, and I learned very young that s— happens and there’s no guarantees, and we keep going,” Hargitay stated. “And then we transform it. That’s been kind of my superpower, and the gift of having trauma early in life. I’ve spent the last 50—how old am I?—57, so 54 years sort of trying to figure out what happened and why, and what am I supposed to do with it?”

Hargitay also said that she was in a “frozen” place. She felt the tightening that happens as a result of trauma. “I clearly was in that frozen place for a lot of my childhood—of trying to survive, actually trying to survive. My life has been a process of unpeeling the layers and trust and trusting again.”

Hargitay reflected on the letters she received from victims of sexual trauma. She began noticing the misplacement of how survivors say that their lives didn’t belong to them anymore. Instead, their lives belong to the perpetrator. 

“I went, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no,’” Hargitay recalled. “Joyful Heart was my response. That’s what the foundation has been about—giving back possibility.”

When asked about her activism, Hargitay added, “Do I get my due? Yes, I do because I’m so privileged that I get to do it, that I get to find my purpose, that I get to be of service, that I get to help people heal. That’s what I know. That’s important to me.”