‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Mariska Hargitay Opens Up About Losing Her Mother in 2014 Interview

by Suzanne Halliburton

Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay, looks a lot like her beautiful mother. And she shares her intellect, too.

Except Hargitay doesn’t remember much about her mother, Jayne Mansfield, one of the sexiest stars of the 1950s and 60s. Olivia Benson of Law & Order: SVU fame was only three years old in 1967 when her mother died in a car wreck. And Hargitay was asleep in the backseat when the accident happened as the family was traveling from Biloxi, Miss., to New Orleans for a TV appearance.

Mansfield, her boyfriend and the driver were thrown from the car and died on impact. Hargitay and her two brothers survived with only minor injuries, although Hargitay still has a scar on the side of her head from the accident.

Mansfield is an obvious chapter in Hargitay’s story, although Hargitay wanted to define her own way. James Lipton, who hosted Actors Studio, asked Hargitay about her mom during an interview in 2014.

First, Lipton wanted to know whether Hargitay had been able to secure some of the Mansfield memorabilia. The audience laughed at the question. But the Law & Order: SVU star said “that’s not a joke.

“When she passed away, people broke into the house and stole most of her belongings. And some collectors had bought some of her jewelry and some of her things.”

Then the Law & Order: SVU star talked about one of her favorite mementos from her mother.

“It’s a beautiful bracelet, one of her charm bracelets,” Hargitay recalled. “And it says Mariska, my name, with a little ballerina, holding a pearl. It’s so beautiful. And something I treasured.”

Jayne Mansfield in 1965. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Law & Order: SVU Star Said “God Has Plan” For Her Life

Hargitay, who plays a tough detective on Law & Order: SVU, then turned philosophical about her mother’s death. Her dad — Hungarian bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay — raised her in Los Angeles. He died in 2006, but he gave her a relatively normal life.

She attended UCLA and pledged a sorority before she left school to try acting, her mother’s line of work. She was 35 when she landed the role in Law & Order: SVU.

“There are no accidents,” Hargitay told Lipton. “And I believe God has a plan. Although I don’t understand it, I do trust it. And I learned to make peace with what is. It’s also helpful in acting. You have to accept what is and try to figure it out. I think my philosophy is what can I learn from this situation and how can I grow. Because that’s the most important thing to me is growing.”

Four years after Hargitay was featured on the Actors Studio, she made the cover of People magazine. Of course, the magazine asked about her famous mother. Her stint on Law & Order: SVU brought her an Emmy win and seven other nominations and made her into a huge star. Still, being known as Jayne Mansfield’s daughter is part of her life, even if she doesn’t remember her mother.

“The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it,” she said, adding “I’m not saying it’s easy, and it certainly hasn’t been for me. There’s been a lot of darkness. But on the other side things can be so bright.”