The Very Wise Advice Mariska Hargitay’s Father Gave Her

The Very Wise Advice Mariska Hargitay’s Father Gave Her



Mariska Hargitay comes from a lineage of Hollywood royalty, with her parents Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay both leaving indelible marks in the entertainment industry. Today, Mariska herself is an iconic figure, synonymous with the NBC hit series Law & Order: SVU. Her career seems to follow in the footsteps of her famous parents, and she often reflects on the valuable life lessons they imparted.

Jayne Mansfield, Mariska’s mother, was a Playboy Playmate who enjoyed a successful career as an actress. She starred in The Tropicana Holiday, a striptease revue at the Tropicana Hotel. Mickey Hargitay, Mariska’s father, had a distinguished career as a bodybuilder, even earning the title of Mr. Universe, and he later ventured into acting.

The love story of Mariska’s parents began when Jayne saw Mickey performing at the Mae West Revue in 1956. Their romance quickly blossomed, leading to their marriage in 1958. The couple had three children—Mariska, Zoltan, and Mickey Jr.—but their marriage ended in divorce in 1964.

Tragedy struck in 1967 when Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident, a devastating event that also involved her children. At just three years old, Mariska survived the crash that claimed the lives of her mother, Jayne’s boyfriend Sam Brody, and their driver, Ronald B. Harrison.

Mickey Hargitay passed away in 2006 at the age of 80 due to bone marrow cancer. Despite this loss, Mariska continues to cherish the wisdom her father shared with her. In a 2012 interview with Good Housekeeping, she recounted a piece of advice from Mickey that has profoundly influenced her: “Mariska, you can learn from anyone and everyone. From people who are older than you and people who are younger than you.”

This philosophy of learning from everyone around her is something Mariska holds dear. She believes in drawing inspiration and knowledge from various sources, including her character, her husband, and her father. This approach underscores the importance of continuous learning and openness to different perspectives.

Reflecting on her mother’s loss, Mariska shared with People in 2018 how she has coped with the profound grief. “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, 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.”

Raised by her father and stepmother, Ellen, Mariska has carried the legacy of her parents with her throughout her life. The wisdom of Mickey and the memory of Jayne continue to shape her both personally and professionally, as she navigates her own path in the world of entertainment.


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