For over two decades, audiences have been charmed by Law & Order: SVU’s Olivia Benson. Almost every week since the series premiered in 1999, fans across the globe tune in to see what the fierce detective-turned-sergeant, turned captain is up to.
And, while we were falling in love with her character, we have also become hard-core fans of the actress who plays Benson, Mariska Hargitay.
Mariska Hargitay’s amazing talent for acting runs in her blood. Her mother is the 1950s blond bombshell, the late Jayne Mansfield. Hargitay’s father? A former Mister Universe and actor, Mickey Hargitay.
Mariska was very young – just three years old – when she lost her mother in 1967 in a car crash.
After the tragic car accident, Mariska’s father, and his new wife, Ellen Siano took her and her siblings in. Forming a very close family. One that Mariska and her siblings almost lost again just six years later.
She Claimed Us
“I called her mom,” the actress has said of Siano.
“She really claimed us,” Hargitay adds. She never had biological kids of her own, and to this day, we are her kids.”
However, Mariska Hargitay almost lost this new mother figure who meant so much to her as she recovered from the loss she had already suffered.
In 1973, Ellen Siano was involved in a plane accident.
‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Remembers The Tragedy
Siano was working as a flight attendant on a flight that was destined to Los Angeles from Hawaii. The plane experienced some deadly turbulence sending Siano and others flying within the cabin. One passenger was mortally injured in the event, and others were hospitalized.
Ellen hit the floor and the ceiling so many times she was left with multiple bruises and fractures.
“Those are tough emotions for kids to deal with,” Hargitay says of seeing her stepmother in the hospital after the tragedy.
“That specifically, to have that almost happen twice,” the Law & Order: SVU actress adds. “I don’t know if there are words for it, but it was really scary for us.”
She Was Ahead Of Her Time
The actress’s mother, Jayne Mansfield died tragically in a car crash in 1967 when her vehicle collided with the back of a truck. Mariska was just three when she lost her mother. The actress and her two brothers were asleep in the back of the car at the time of the accident. Thankfully the young Hargitay and her brothers only sustained minor injuries.
“She was just so ahead of her time, she was an inspiration.” Mariska Hargitay said of her late mother.
Hargitay adds that she had tried to carry on her mother’s passion in her own life as she pursued her own dreams.
“She had this appetite for life,” says Hargitay. “I think I share that with her.”
Mariska doesn’t carry any memories of the accident – but a small scar on her head reminds her of the tragedy.
“Losing my mother at such an early age is the scar of my soul,” Hargitay has said.
“But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life,” the actress continues. “I had to go through what I did to be here.”