All About Mariska Hargitay’s Parents, Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay

As the daughter of actress and icon Jayne Mansfield and bodybuilder-turned-actor Mickey Hargitay, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay had a one of a kind upbringing.

Jayne was a Hollywood bombshell in the 1950s and ‘60s, known for her beauty, style and independent spirit. She met Hungarian-born Mr. Universe winner Mickey at the height of her career, and they married in 1958. Mickey then became a star in his own right, appearing in movies alongside Jayne, including Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and The Loves of Hercules.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the two finalized their divorce in 1964 after welcoming three children together: Mariska, Miklós and Zoltan. A few years later, Jayne tragically died in a car crash in 1967, while 3-year-old Mariska and her brothers were injured in the backseat.

Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay on September 6, 1963. ; Mariska Hargitay attends the 2022 People's Choice Awards on December 6, 2022 in Santa Monica, California.

The star has often said that her mother’s death at such a young age shaped her deeply. “The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it. As the saying goes, the only way out is through,” she told PEOPLE in 2018. “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.”

Still, Mariska believes Jayne is with her every day. “Someone once said about [remembering] my mother: ‘All you have to do is look in the mirror,’ ” she added.

When she was honored at the Variety Power of Women luncheon, Mariska mentioned that fellow honoree Amy Schumer reminded her of her mom.

“I saw you tonight — today — and I saw you in your glorious sequin-y pink dress, and I immediately thought, and I said to you, I feel like my mom is here with me. Because you’re Jayne Mansfield incarnate right now,” she said. “I always look for signs she’s here, and she is today with me.”

Mariska’s father, Mickey, died in 2006 after a long illness, and she often honors both late parents on social media. “Thank you Dad for always holding me up. I love you. Always,” she captioned a June 2019 post on Father’s Day, featuring a black-and-white photo of Mickey with his arms around her.

Here’s everything to know about Mariska Hargitay’s parents, Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay.

Jayne first spotted Mickey while he was performing

Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay attend the Makeup Artist Ball on September 29, 1956 in Los Angeles,California.

Jayne, one of the best known celebrities of her time, was in the audience when she first spotted Mickey performing onstage.

After winning the title of Mr. Universe, Mickey was asked by actress Mae West to join the cast of muscle-men in her Las Vegas show, The Mae West Revue, according to The Independent.

Jayne attended one of the shows, and when asked what she would like to have, she reportedly answered, “I’ll have a steak and the man on the left,” referring to Mickey.

They married in 1958

Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay on their wedding day.

Jayne and Mickey married on Jan. 13, 1958, at the Glass Wayfarer’s Seaside Chapel in Los Angeles with 100 guests in attendance, according to Entertainment Weekly.

More than six decades later, the church’s reverend told the Los Angeles Times that people still remember Jayne getting carried to the limousine — which featured a large “Just Married” sign hanging off the back window — after the ceremony.

After Jayne and Mickey divorced in 1964, they each remarried — Jayne to director Matt Cimber and Mickey to Ellen Siano. Mickey and Ellen raised Mariska, along with her two brothers and three half-siblings, in L.A. after Jayne’s death.

“I called her Mom,” Mariska told Good Housekeeping in 2012, referring to her stepmother, Ellen. “We were blessed that she really embraced us and loved us so quickly. And I was very fortunate to have a maternal figure in my life after such a horrific accident.”

They lived in a “pink palace”

Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay attend the premiere of "Giant". ; Mariska Hargitay attends the 33rd annual Colleagues Spring Luncheon and Oscar De La Renta fashion show on April 25, 2023.

A year after their marriage, Jayne and Mickey purchased a mansion on Sunset Boulevard in Beverly Hills, California. Together, they transformed the 25-room home into what became known as the “Pink Palace,” featuring many shades of pink, shag carpets and heart motifs, according to Architectural Digest.

In 1960, while giving a tour of the home to the BBC, Jayne said the lavish pink mansion was like “living in a wonderful powder box.”

The home was also filled with signs of the couple’s love for one another. A “coat of arms” on one living room wall included the letters “J&M” surrounded by two cupids, and Mickey built Jayne a 40-foot-wide, heart-shaped swimming pool with the words, “I love you Jaynie,” written in gold-foil tile on the bottom.

The actress also shared that Mickey designed many of the other custom details in the home — including a wooden table and the headboard for their bed.

After Jayne and Mickey divorced, the home was subsequently owned by Engelbert Humperdinck and Ringo Starr, among others, according to Curbed LA.

They welcomed three children together

Mickey Hargitay, jayne Mansfield, and kids Zoltan, Miklos, Mariska, and Jayne Marie.

Jayne and Mickey welcomed three children together — their two sons, Miklós and Zoltan, and their daughter, Mariska. Jayne had one child from her previous marriage, daughter Jayne Marie. Mickey was also dad to his daughter Tina from a past relationship.

“We take our children everywhere we go,” Jayne told Star Weekly magazine. “I don’t believe in having them and then leaving them to someone else to bring up.”

This rang true on an episode of The Merv Griffin Show in 1966, when Jayne brought along the entire troupe of children, including 2-year-old Mariska, for her on-air interview.

“We lost one along the way somewhere, sometimes it’s so easy to lose them,” Jayne joked to the hosts, explaining why her oldest daughter Jayne Marie wasn’t on the stage. “But I’m going to run an ad in the paper. I hope to get her back.”

Mariska wasn’t the only Hargitay sibling to follow in her parents’ Hollywood footsteps. Her older brother Zoltan worked in the art department on multiple movies in the 1990s. But her brother Miklós has lived a more private life — having owned a plant shop in L.A. for over four decades.

Mariska credits her father for her strength and work ethic

Mariska Hargitay and Mickey Hargitay.

During the tougher moments of Mariska’s early career — referring to the roles she didn’t get before her breakout role on Law & Order: SVU — her father, Mickey, taught her to persevere.

“I could have quit a million times, but my dad drilled into me that our family doesn’t quit,” Mariska told Parade in 2019. “So if you don’t get it, it means you’re not ready and you have to get up and try again.”

Mariska also called her father a “superhero,” comparing him to Wonder Woman. “She’s the female version of him,” she added. The outer strength of her Mr. Universe father was evident, but Mariska also valued his emotional resilience.

“My dad gave me so much advice and shored me up so young,” she told the outlet. “He achieved so many unattainable goals and did it by beating to his own drum. He used to say that to me. Like, ‘What does it matter what people think?’ He was so clear in what it took to succeed.”

Her father often attended events with Mariska before he died in 2006. The year prior, Mariska honored her parents during her acceptance speech for best actress in a drama TV series at the Golden Globe Awards.

“Forty-nine years ago, my mother accepted [a Golden Globe], and my father was with her. And I’m lucky enough tonight to have my father here with me,” she said. “You are my hero. You’ve taught me not only by your word but by example, Dad, and I love you.”

Mariska felt a new bond to her mother after having her own children

Peter Hermann and Mariska Hargitay pose with their children, August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, Andrew Nicolas Hargitay Hermann and Amaya Josephine Hermann at the 2023 Stuttering Association For The Young (SAY) Benefit Gala on May 22, 2023 in New York City. ; Jayne Mansfield holding six-weeks old Mariska Hargitay, March 1964.

Though Jayne died when Mariska was very young, she felt a deep bond to her mother after having children of her own.

“I understand her in a new way that gives me peace,” Mariska told Good Housekeeping in 2010. “Being a mom has been healing. Now I understand the love she had in her, and it makes me feel closer to her.”

Mariska and her husband, actor Peter Hermann, have three kids together — sons August and Andrew and daughter Amaya.

Mariska told Redbook in 2009 that when she suffered from a collapsed lung earlier that year, a familiar feeling of loss arose.

“All those old fears about my mom and my grandfather [who also died at an early age] came shooting up. Having a child changes everything,” she told the publication. “All of a sudden you have so much to lose, so much to live for.”

In her own motherhood journey, Mariska developed even more of an admiration for Jayne.

“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,” she told PEOPLE in 2019. “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.”

Mickey appeared on Law & Order: SVU’s 100th episode

Mariska Hargitay as Detective Olivia Benson, Mickey Hargitay as Michael on 'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit'.

Law & Order: SVU’s milestone 100th episode was made all the more special with a guest appearance from Mariska’s father, Mickey.

In the opening scene of the 2003 episode “Control,” Mickey plays a grandfather who, alongside his granddaughter, witnesses a bleeding man fall down an escalator. Afterward, he gives a statement to Detective Olivia Benson — played by his daughter, Mariska.

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