About Mariska Magdolna Hargitay
She is an American actress. She is the daughter of the late actor and professional bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay and late actress Jayne Mansfield. After winning the Miss Beverly Hills 1982 beauty pageant, she went on to study theater at the University of California and started acting at the age 20 with her film debut in the 1985 horror-comedy film Ghoulies. She made her first major television debut in season seven and eight of the soap opera Falcon Crest (1987) and appeared mostly in television shows throughout the late 1980s and most of the 90's, in small roles and guest appearances.
In 1999 she was cast as Olivia Benson, a New York City detective who investigates sex crimes on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a role that has earned her multiple award nominations and an Emmy and Golden Globe since the shows' debut. She met her future husband Peter Hermann, who played Defense Attorney Trevor Langan on SVU. They were married in 2004, the same year she established an organization that provides support to women who have been sexually abused called the Joyful Heart Foundation and also volunteers as a rape crisis counselor.
Hargitay was born at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, an actress and 1950s-era sex symbol, and Hungarian-born former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay. Her first and middle names are Hungarian and refer to Mary Magdalene (Mariska is a diminutive of Maria). Her family name means "of Hargita". Hargitay has two half-sisters, Jayne Marie Mansfield and Tina Hargitay; two brothers, Miklós and Zoltán Hargitay; and a half-brother, Antonio Ottaviano (a.k.a. Tony Cimber), a former director whose works include the female wrestling show Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.
Hargitay's parents had divorced in May 1963, but a judge later found their Mexican divorce invalid. They had reconciled a few months before Mariska's birth in January 1964 but soon separated again; and in August 1964, the Mexican divorce was ruled legal. A few weeks later, Mansfield married the director Matt Cimber, who had directed her in a 1964 production of the William Inge play Bus Stop.
On June 29, 1967, Jayne Mansfield was killed in an automobile accident on a stretch of U.S. Highway 90 between New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana. Her boyfriend, Sam Brody, and the driver were also killed. Asleep in the back of the vehicle, Mariska, then three-and-a-half years old, was left with a zig-zag scar on one side of her head. Her brothers, Miklós and Zoltán were also in the car, but escaped with minor injuries. After the death of their mother, the three siblings were raised by their father and his third wife, Ellen Siano.
Hargitay was active in the theater program of her secondary school Marymount High School, and she attended UCLA School of Theater Film and Television (where she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma),until she left before graduating when she began her acting career.
Hargitay speaks Hungarian, French, Spanish, and Italian as well as English. On August 28, 2004, in Santa Barbara, California, she married Peter Hermann, an actor and writer who has often appeared on SVU as Defense Attorney Trevor Langan and whom she met on the stage. During the last months of her pregnancy, she took maternity leave from SVU, and was temporarily replaced by Connie Nielsen. On June 28, 2006, Hargitay gave birth to her son August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, by an emergency caesarean section. She appeared in the January 2007 issue of Self magazine where she stated that the 15-hour work days on the set of SVU, combined with the stress of an increase in episodes filmed each week caused her to resort to food for comfort and by her third trimester, she gained 54 pounds and contracted gestational diabetes. She cited in the interview, "I was overwhelmed by my lack of energy. All I could do to survive was to eat". That same month she and August appeared in a Got Milk? advertisement.
Upon winning her Emmy on August 27, 2006, Hargitay made a point of thanking her father for everything he had done for her in her life. Just 17 days later, on September 14, 2006, her father died from multiple myeloma in Los Angeles, California, at age 80.
In late December 2008, she suffered a partially collapsed lung after taking a fall during a stunt on the set of SVU. She underwent surgery in January and returned to work shortly after. On March 3, 2009, Hargitay was hospitalized after suffering chest pains related to the injury. It was disclosed that she would probably need more surgery. Despite this, she missed only one episode of season 10 of SVU. She has begun working on the 11th season of SVU, which premiered on Wednesday, September 23, 2009.