Mariska Hargitay Reflects On Her Late Famous Mother, Jayne Mansfield, In Recent Interview
Fans of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit undoubtedly know who Mariska Hargitay is. Hargitay has enjoyed a decades-long career, most well-known for playing Olivia Benson on Law & Order – in fact, she has played the character from 1999 until present. However, what many people may not know is that Hargitay is the daughter of very famous parents. She opened up about her early childhood and tragic losses in a recent interview with People Magazine.
Mariska was born to former Mr. Universe and famed bodybuilder, Mickey Hargitay, and famous actress/sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield. On June 29, 1967, Mansfield was the victim of a fatal car accident on a stretch of highway between New Orleans and Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. The crash also claimed the lives of Mansfield’s then-boyfriend, Sam Brody, as well as the driver, Ronald Harrison. Asleep in the back seat, three-year-old Mariska escaped with a scar on one side of her head. Her two brothers both escaped with minor injuries.
Though Mariska did not often speak publicly about her famous parents or her mother’s death as she rose to acting fame, she did open up during a recent interview about what it’s been like to deal with the loss of her mother at such a young age. “The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it,” she said. “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.”
“My mother was this amazing, beautiful, glamorous sex symbol — but people didn’t know that she played the violin and had a 160 IQ and had five kids and loved dogs,” Mariska revealed. “She was just so ahead of her time. She was an inspiration, she had this appetite for life, and I think I share that with her. Someone once said about [remembering] my mother: ‘All you have to do is look in the mirror,'” she said. “She’s with me still.”
After the death of her mother, Mariska and her brothers were raised by their father. “My dad taught me to listen and to learn,” she explained. “As a young kid, I had my antennas out for who had wisdom and why, and what was I supposed to learn from them, and why were they there? The way I’ve been able to make sense of the cards I was dealt was to follow those signs.”
Mariska’s father passed away in 2006 following a long battle with multiple myeloma. “It was huge to lose this person who was my everything, my strength, my power, the person who believed in me,” she said. “But I got to say goodbye, and I remember it was very calm, and he just looked at me and he said, ‘Mariska… Always.’ I was the most like him, and the gift that I got, in addition to being able to say goodbye, was knowing that he was in me. I already carried his fire, the lessons that he taught me, his compassion, his love, his kindness. Now I do feel that he’s with me. Even though he’s not here physically, I carry him.”
You can read the full, heartfelt interview here. Though Mariska has endured a great deal of tragedy and loss, she has persevered and enjoys both a successful acting career and fulfilling family life. I truly believe our families stay with us even after they move on – and Mariska’s parents would certainly be very proud of her.