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Mariska Hargitay Was Scarred by Mom's Death Yet Does Not Remember Her & Never Wanted to Be a Star like Her

Oyin Balogun
Jun 29, 2022
10:30 P.M.
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"Law & Order" star Mariska Hargitay was the daughter of a notable actress, Jayne Mansfield, who died tragically when her daughter was only 3. Despite the vacuum her absence created, the reigning actress never planned on becoming a star like her mom, even though she carved her niche in the movie industry.

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Many remember Jayne Mansfield as a breathtaking actress, but sadly, her youngest daughter, Mariska Hargitay, grew up without knowing her nor having recollections of her time as a mother.

That was because the vibrant movie star did not live long enough to enjoy her glory or family. In 1967, the platinum-haired beauty died in a tragic car crash, leaving her three children, including Mariska, the youngest, without a mother.

 Actress Jayne Mansfield and her husband Mickey Hargitay attend an event in Los Angeles, California, circa 1958 | Source: Getty Images

Actress Jayne Mansfield and her husband Mickey Hargitay attend an event in Los Angeles, California, circa 1958 | Source: Getty Images

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The horrible incident occurred during a trip from Mississippi to New Orleans. Mansfield was scheduled to appear on TV after her performance at a local club.

Her company included Ronald B. Harrison, the driver of the Buick Electra, Samuel S. Brody, her lawyer, and her three kids, with her ex-husband, Mickey Hargitay, named Mickey, Zoltan, and Mariska.

Mickey Hargitay, Jayne Mansfield, Jayne Marie, Miklos, and Zoltan at the New York International Airport | Source: Getty Images

Mickey Hargitay, Jayne Mansfield, Jayne Marie, Miklos, and Zoltan at the New York International Airport | Source: Getty Images

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The vehicle ran into a truck, and unfortunately, Mansfield, alongside the two adults, died. The kids were asleep in the back seat, and they all survived but sustained injuries.

Following her untimely death, the movie star was buried in Fairview Cemetery, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Her deathbed was etched with a heart-shaped tombstone, her name, date of birth, and death inscribed.

Jayne Manfield in the publicity portrait for "Kiss Them For Me" circa 1957 | Source: Getty Images

Jayne Manfield in the publicity portrait for "Kiss Them For Me" circa 1957 | Source: Getty Images

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MARISKA LEARNED FROM HER ABSENT MOTHER

Mariska was only three years old when she lost her mother. She was too young to carry on whatever memory they shared. But while the "Law & Order" actress could not recollect the accident, she bore a lingering pain in her heart.

Many years later, Mariska confessed, "Losing my mother at such an early age is the scar on my soul." Her mother's untimely death left physical and emotional scars that hugely impacted her throughout her life.

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Despite the hurt, Mariska grew up understanding life differently, which served as the bedrock for her success and personality. Now an award-winning actress, she explained how losing her mother shaped her view on things.

Mariska admitted that she came up with a personal formula that involved leaning into the loss. The TV star added that pain and losses had been a part of her reality, but avoiding it never made it go away.

The "Law & Order" star maintained that confronting the pain was never an easy option, but what fueled her was a hope for a brighter future.

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Despite not being able to spend much time with her mother, Mariska was passionate about learning who the deceased was. According to the actress, being acquainted with her father's description of her mother never helped — even though she also watched some of her mother's films.

Eventually, the actress concluded that Mansfield was a focused, driven personality and that her mother was more intelligent than the public perceived her to be.

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While the world acknowledged Mansfield as a glamorous sex symbol, her daughter explained that she was more than that, adding that the deceased possessed a high IQ, was a gifted violin player and was a dog lover. Mariska perceives her mother as an inspiration.

Although the Hollywood maven has no memory of her mother, she still believes that the iconic superstar is still with her after many years. In her words:

"Someone once said about [remembering] my mother: 'All you have to do is look in the mirror.' She's with me still."

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MARISKA PREFERRED TO CARVE HER NICHE

Mansfield was a bold and vibrant reigning queen of her era. The platinum-haired actress was famous for embracing her feminine attraction, and to this day, Mariska is in awe of her mother's legacy. However, that did not make the younger actress bask in her mother's glory. Instead, she forged a path, creating her success story.

It all started during her final year in college. Mariska found acting exciting and decided to toe the line of her famous parents — her dad Mickey, was a bodybuilder and was into showbiz.

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In the back of her mind, she wanted to be famous without walking in her mother's shadows or being mistaken for the older actress. Mariska dreamed of establishing her identity, and she never wanted to be recognized as the daughter of a star. In her words:

"I'm not interested in being a star like my mother was. Me, I just want to become a good actress... I want to be accepted for myself. One day I know I will be."

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Through hard work, persistence, and passion for the arts, Mariska made her dream come true. At 58, she has a formidable career and reputation in Hollywood.

The award-winning actress has bagged significant roles in numerous films and TV series, including "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "ER," and "Lake Placid."

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MARISKA'S LIFE WITH MICKEY HARGITAY

After Mansfield's death, her ex-husband, Mickey, took their three kids to live with him in Los Angeles. Thankfully, his third wife, Ellen Siano, embraced them, and they lived lovingly with their other three half-siblings.

Mariska remains thankful to her stepmother for acting like the mother they never had. She even called her mom. On the other hand, Ellen never had biological kids, but she remained impartial with her love for her husband's kids. Mariska's description of her childhood was that:

"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."

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Ellen Hargitay with Mickey Hargitay embracing children of Jayne Mansfield Zoltan, Mariska and Mike, Jr., while visiting Rome's Piazza Navonz | Source:  Getty Images

Ellen Hargitay with Mickey Hargitay embracing children of Jayne Mansfield Zoltan, Mariska and Mike, Jr., while visiting Rome's Piazza Navonz | Source: Getty Images

Indeed, Mariska was blessed with a kind-hearted stepmother and a consistent father who was involved in raising his kids. As a young child, she absorbed the lessons her dad taught her. In the end, she realized that learning did involve listening, as the family's patriarch claimed.

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Father and daughter remained very close until he died in 2006. Mickey had been sick for a long time, but watching her father die was an overwhelming loss.

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

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

While Mariska was saddened by his exit, she felt comfort in being able to say goodbye. The actress admitted that she had inherited some of Mickey's traits and that carrying the lessons learned from the deceased made her feel his presence constantly.

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