Mariska Hargitay’s Tragic Real Life Story

Actress Mariska Hargitay landed the role of Olivia Benson on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 1999, and still plays the character to this day. In many ways, the strong, feminist, and troubled character of Detective Benson is similar to the actress who portrays her. Hargitay might have a happy life now but she’s had to deal with a lifetime of tragedies. Take a look at all the ups and downs of Mariska Hargitay’s life.

She Was Born Into Hollywood Scandal

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Mariska was born on January 23, 1964, to none other than the curvaceous pin-up star Jayne Mansfield. If having a famous mother wasn’t enough, Mariska’s father was a bodybuilder and former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay. The couple met in 1956, married two years later, but filed for divorce in 1962.

Not long after the divorce, Mansfield learned she was pregnant with Mariska, her third child. Since having a child out of wedlock would have been scandalous, the two pretended not to be divorced for the sake of their daughter.