‘Law & Order’: The Surprising Way Mariska Hargitay Got Her Start In Television

‘Law & Order’: The Surprising Way Mariska Hargitay Got Her Start In Television


Mariska Hargitay has been synonymous with “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” throughout its record-breaking tenure on television. With the show renewed for a landmark 21st season, it stands as the longest-running live-action series in TV history. Beyond her on-screen success, Hargitay is admired for her philanthropy and the inspiring story of her personal life.

Inspired by her character’s crusade against sexual crimes, Hargitay, who commands an estimated $450,000 per episode of SVU, founded the Joyful Heart Foundation. This organization provides crucial support to survivors of sexual assault, aiding in their recovery and empowerment.

Hargitay’s private life with her husband, fellow actor Peter Hermann, is a testament to stability amidst the tumultuous world of celebrity. They met on set, married in 2004, and have nurtured a family with three children—a son born in 2006 and a daughter and another son adopted in 2011. Their commitment to a low-key existence contrasts refreshingly with typical celebrity narratives.

Despite her current tranquil life, Hargitay’s early years were anything but ordinary. Born in 1964 to Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay, she entered the world amidst her mother’s fame as a Playboy playmate and her father’s renowned career as a Hungarian actor and former Mr. Universe.

Mansfield’s tumultuous personal life, marked by multiple marriages and divorces, often overshadowed her career. Tragically, her life was cut short at 34 in a fatal car accident, leaving Mariska, at the tender age of three, to be raised by her father and stepmother Ellen Siano.

Mariska navigated her childhood under the shadow of her mother’s tragic death, preferring to focus on her bond with her father rather than dwell on painful memories. Her resilience and determination eventually propelled her into the spotlight.

Achieving recognition as Miss Beverly Hills and making her mark in music videos and television roles, Hargitay’s career milestones included notable appearances in MTV’s first country music video and the horror-comedy film “Ghoulies.” Her breakout came with roles like the parolee in “Downtown,” foreshadowing her enduring success on SVU.

Today, Mariska Hargitay stands as a beloved figure in Hollywood, recognized not just for her talent but also for her perseverance in overcoming early adversities. Her journey from a tragic past to becoming a TV icon is a testament to her strength and dedication, resonating deeply with her fans worldwide.


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