Fans recognize Mariska Hargitay as the commanding officer of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit. She plays Olivia Benson in the police procedural and legal drama television series “Law & Order.” However, not many know that her parents were also actors.
Mariska Hargitay was born in 1964 to father Mickey Hargitay and mother Jayne Mansfield. Both her parents were actors, and, unsurprisingly, Hargitay grew to become one of Hollywood’s best actresses.
Her father, Mickey Hargitay, was born in Budapest, and to escape being sent to the Nazi war, Mickey moved to the US, settling in Indianapolis. His first jobs were working as a builder and a performer in nightclubs.
Meet Mickey Hargitay
During one of such acts, he met his first wife, Mary Birge. One day, he walked into a gym, and to the astonishment of the gym owner, he lifted a 215lb bar over his head.
He then began a career in bodybuilding that led him to win the Mr. Indianapolis and Mr. Eatern America titles. He worked his way up to win the Mr. Universe contest in 1955. Propelled by his good looks and body, Mickey soon started gracing fitness magazine covers.
He put a lot of effort into popularizing bodybuilding, previously considered freakish. After divorcing his wife, Mickey married the blonde sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield, and built an acting career.
The couple appeared together in several films, including “Primitive Love,” “Promises! Promises!” and “The Loves of Hercules.” However, their marriage ended in 1964.
Mickey continued acting, appearing in more films, including “Bloody Pit of Horror” and “Slaughter on Tenth Avenue.” Even though he changed his career to become a real estate investor and a constructor, his works inspired many.
Arnold Schwarzenegger considers him a role model as he paved the way for many bodybuilders after him. Schwarzenegger played him in the 1980 movie, “The Jayne Mansfield Story.” Mickey passed on in 2006.
On the other hand, Jayne Mansfield started her film career with a supporting role in “Female Jungle” in 1955. She landed her first starring role in “The Girl Can’t Help It” a year later.
The actress worked her way up and had a wholesome Hollywood career, appearing in films such as “Too Hot To Handle,” “Illegal,” and “The Burglar.”
She had two children with Mickey, including Hargitay, but three years after their divorce, she met her untimely death through a car accident. Little Hargitay, only three at the time, was in the car that killed her mom.
The Trauma That Changed Her Life
Experiencing such trauma at such an early age changed Hargitay’s life. The actress says that dealing with the loss has helped her appreciate life more.
Even though the trauma left her in a “frozen” place, Hargitay says she’s learned life’s most valuable lessons that way and to channel her pain in positive ways.