‘Law & Order: SVU’: The Meaning Behind Mariska Hargitay’s Name

by Amy Myers
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With a name like Mariska Hargitay, the Law & Order: SVU actress probably never had to worry about a classmate or co-star having the same name. Her beautifully unique name is not one you’d come by often–or ever. However, in another country, Hargitay’s first name is as actually quite common.

Likely, when Hargitay’s mother, legendary actress Jayne Mansfield gave birth to her, she wanted a meaningful name for her daughter. So, instead of finding inspiration in some big book of baby names, Mansfield instead turned to a more renowned work–the Bible. Now, usually, names in the Bible are pretty common in the States–Sarah, Abigail, Eve and so on. However, not many Hungarian versions of these names are as popular.

In order to honor both Hargitay’s Hungarian father, Mickey, and their Roman Catholic faith, the parents named the future Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Magdolna. Look a little familiar? In English, it translates to Mary Magdelene, one of Jesus’ followers.

So, not only does Hargitay have a unique and harmonious name, but she also honors her father’s culture and her religion with it, too.

‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star Follows Both Parents’ Legacies

It’s not uncommon for kids to eventually follow one of their parents’ footsteps when finding a career. Oftentimes, they’ll see how passionate their parent is at his or her job and fall in love with that path for the same reasons. It’s a little rarer when a child follows both parents’ careers, but that’s exactly what Mariska Hargitay did.

The more obvious instance of this is with Hargitay’s current starring role on Law & Order: SVU. While her mother never played a New York Detective, she did have an extremely successful acting career throughout the 50s and 60s until her tragic death in 1967 at the young age of 34. Some of her most notable roles were in films like The Girl Can’t Help It and When Strangers Meet. Besides her skillful performance on set, Mansfield was also known for her remarkable beauty. She had the nickname “The Blonde Bombshell” for her platinum hair and natural curves.

Although Hargitay tends to play more serious roles on set, she does have her mother’s effortless good looks and ability to commit to every role. Her charisma and knack for competition, though, come from her dad.

In 1955, Mickey Hargitay won the title of Mr. Universe. He became the face of bodybuilding on the cover of magazines everywhere. His daughter wouldn’t make it quite as far as a universal beauty competition. However, she did win the title of Miss Beverly Hills USA in 1982. Later on, she competed for Miss California USA, but lost to the future Miss USA, Julie Hayek. Even though she didn’t snag the state or international name, Hargitay still made her late father proud with her competitive spirit and ability to charm an audience.

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