Mariska Hargitay experienced intense fear after she almost lost the woman filling the role of mother in her life — again. She described it as a "scary experience," which is not surprising considering how much influence the lady in question has in Hargitay's life: here are the details.
Lightning never strikes in the same place twice, but tragedy certainly tries to, and nobody knows this better than famous actress Mariska Hargitay.
She was born to classic Hollywood actress Jayne Mansfield and her father was a bodybuilder who once won Mr. Universe. His name was Mickey Hargitay, and he met Mansfield while working in Mae West's nightclub.
Actress Jayne Mansfield and her husband Mickey Hargitay attend an event in Los Angeles, California, circa 1958 | Source: Getty Images
She had set her eyes on all his glory and immediately signaled the waiter, then said, "I'll have a steak and the man on the left." It was a beautiful beginning, and it led to a marriage that was blessed with three kids; however, the magic did not last. It was a tumultuous union, and shortly after their third child was born, the two went their separate ways.
Hargitay and her two other siblings were co-parented by their parents, who shared physical custody of them until 1967, when tragedy struck.
Photo of Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield on September 6, 1963 | Source: Getty Images
She and her brothers were in the backseat of the car while her Mom and two other performers were seated in front. There was a great fog on that night, and visibility was low, so the person driving had no idea a tractor in front of them had stopped.
By the time they realized what was coming, it was too late, and they ran straight into it. Everybody in front was killed, but the children survived with mere injuries.
Mickey Hargitay, Jayne Mansfield, Jayne Marie, Miklos, and Zoltan at the New York International Airport | Source: Getty Images
The actress was three years old when it happened, so she does not remember the details; however, losing her Mom at such a young age scarred her very soul. In her words, "Losing my mother at such an early age is the scar on my soul."
Indeed, after it happened, she struggled with "low self-esteem" and constantly had to fight off "anxiety." It was a depressing phase, but it did not last, and the actress came out of it better. She has since found a silver lining and has admitted that it helped. She said:
"But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today."
The statement was a testament to her growth, but It was not easy for Mariska to reach that point. Part of why it took so much time was because she had very few things to remind her of her Mom after most were stolen in a robbery that happened just after her demise.
Years later, she was able to get some of them back thanks to collectors who approached her with an offer to sell. Now she treasures her Mom's charms bracelet and always wears it.
MARISKA HARGITAY'S STEPMOTHER CLAIMED HER
Ellen Hargitay with Mickey Hargitay embracing children of Jayne Mansfield Zoltan, Mariska and Mike, Jr., while visiting Rome's Piazza Navonz | Source: Getty Images
After Mariska's parents split, her father moved on with an air attendant named Ellen, and Mansfield gave her approval, even going as far as telling Ellen she was happy he was with someone who could care for him and their kids.
After Mansfield passed on, Mariska and her brothers moved in with their father permanently and had to build a relationship with Ellen, who made it very easy. She made Mariska realize that mother is a term that can also be used for a woman who didn't birth you. According to Mariska:
"I called her Mom. She really claimed us. She never had biological kids of her own, and to this day we are her kids. So we were blessed that she really embraced us and loved us so quickly."
Mariska Hargitay and stepmother Ellen Hargitay attend the ceremony honoring Mariska Hargitay with a Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 8, 2013 in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images
The accident was traumatic for the kids, but Ellen's love was there for them, and in time she became a support system for the three kids as they struggled with the scar their mother's demise left.
It was a journey filled with many disappointments, including one incident where they had to return a newborn to her mother after she changed her mind.
Mickey Hargitay, Marishka Hargitay, and Ellen Siano at the 2005 InStyle/Warner Bros. Golden Globes Party | Source: Getty Images
Mariska understands this, so she once said, "I was very fortunate to have a maternal figure in my life after such a horrific accident."
MARISKA ALMOST LOST HER STEPMOM TOO WHEN SHE WAS 9
Mariska and her brothers were lucky to have been blessed with such a stepmom; however, they almost lost her six years after their mother's death. It happened on a flight to L.A. when her stepmom's plane got hit by turbulence leading to the end of a passenger and the hospitalization of others, including flight attendant Ellen.
Mariska and her brothers had been headed home from Dallas, and when they got off the plane, they only met their dad waiting with a distressed look on his face. The kids immediately knew something was up because Ellen would usually be there with Mickey Hargitay.
Ellen Hargitay at the Stars for a Cause Charity Auction on September 27, 2007, in Hollywood | Source: Getty Images
They went to the hospital and found their stepmom in critical condition, and it was like reopening their old wounds of losing a mom, which they had already experienced before. She said:
"Those are tough emotions for kids to deal with, especially that specifically, to have that, you know, almost happen twice is — I don't know if there are words for it, but it was really scary for us."
It took some time, but Ellen survived the ordeal and remained by Mickey's side until he died in 2006.
MARISKA'S STEPMOTHER SHOWED HER THAT LOVE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT
Mariska Hargitay with children Amaya Andrew, and August attend The Children's Museum Of The East End 5th Annual Family Fair at Children's Museum of the East End on July 20, 2013 in Bridgehampton, New York | Source : Getty Images
Mariska's maternal instincts were born when she was still young because her mother's death made her realize that the role was not just used to refer to birth mothers.
Thanks to Ellen and Mickey's teaching, Mariska was exposed to other kids from India who had also lost their parents but were living life fully, and at that moment, the urge to adopt them all was born within her.
When she grew older, she married Peter Hermann, and they went on to welcome a child when she was 42. They named him August, and soon, he started clamoring for siblings. Mariska did not mind, nor did Hermann, but they chose to adopt rather than have the child naturally.
It was a challenging journey filled with many disappointments, including one incident where they had to return a newborn to her mother after she changed her mind about giving her up. Speaking about the moment, she said:
"It was nothing short of devastating."
After that, they met an African American woman that wanted to give up her child. It turned out to be a girl, and they named her Amaya. About the delivery, she said:
"I basically pulled Amaya out. Peter and I held her, and then the birth mother and I hugged for a long time. That was profound."
After Amaya, Mariska and her husband were content to wait a few more years to expand their family, but fate took that decision out of their hands. It happened shortly after they lost a close friend; They had been in mourning when their lawyer informed them that there was a baby that needed a home.
He knew they were not looking to adopt at the time, but he still asked them if they would be willing to adopt the boy, and they said yes. Mariska said, "It was like...a miracle. And I don't use that word lightly. I've never made a bigger decision so quickly."
It was a perfect balance, and Mariska could not have been more pleased about their decision.