With how iconic Mariska Hargitay herself has become for her role as Olivia Benson on “Law & Order: SVU,” it can be easy to overlook the people who paved the road for her. Mariska Hargitay’s parents were Hollywood royalty.
Her father, Mickey Hargitay, was born Miklós Hargitay in Budapest in 1926. The Hungarian bodybuilder went on to represent his country as Mr. Universe in 1955. A year later, Mickey met the woman with whom he’d start his family. In 1956, he crossed paths with Hollywood icon Jayne Mansfield. They were married in 1958 and had three children together.
The youngest of these children is the woman we now know as “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay. Throughout her and her brothers’ youth, Mansfield and Hargitay starred in several films together. Most notably, they worked together in the film adaptation of “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?”
The ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star’s Iconic Mother
While Mariska’s father was famous in his own right, his Hollywood impact hardly compares to Jayne Mansfield’s. One of the first Playboy Playmates, Mansfield landed the cover of the magazine in 1954. She quickly became one of the biggest sex symbols in the world, rivaling the likes of fellow bombshell Marilyn Monroe.
Tragically, Mansfield died in a nighttime car crash on a Louisiana highway in 1967. “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay was asleep with her siblings in the back of the car at the time. Fortunately, the Olivia Benson actress came away from the incident largely unharmed, save for a few scars. The emotional trauma of losing her mom at such a young age, however, has been with her for all this time.
“The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it. As the saying goes, the only way out is through. In my life, certainly I’ve tried to avoid pain, loss, feeling things. But I’ve learned instead to really lean into it, because sooner or later you have to pay the piper. 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,” Hargitay told People in 2018.
Despite Jayne Mansfield’s untimely death at the age of 34, she led a Hollywood career that established her as one of the biggest stars of the 1950s and 1960s. In little more than a decade, the “Law & Order: SVU” star’s mom earned 35 official acting credits. Most of these came in feature-length films, making Mansfield a bonafide movie star.
Those roles don’t include the modeling career she led, turning her into one of the most popular pin-up girls of all time.
It’s a tragedy that Mansfield wasn’t around to raise Mariska. But her father, Mickey, did a pretty good job, considering the successful woman the “Law & Order: SVU” has become. He passed away from cancer in 2006. But not before appearing alongside his daughter in an episode of her iconic show.