'Law & Order: Special Victims Unit' star opens up about dealing with family tragedies

Jan 17, 2019
05:35 A.M.
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Actress Mariska Hargitay spoke about the most heartbreaking tragedy of her childhood – her mother passed away in a car crash while little Mariska was sleeping in the backseat.


54-year-old Mariska Hargitay, the actress who has been playing the powerful Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for almost 2 decades, recently spoke about the troubled past that shaped her.

Reportedly speaking to Closer Weekly, Hargitay revealed that she was three years old when her mother Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident.

What added to the traumatic experience was that Hargitay was present in the car when the fatal crash took place; she had been sleeping in the seat behind her mother.

After the loss of her mother, Hargitay’s father Mickey, along with his third wife Ellen, raised her.


Read more about Mariska Hargitay on our Twitter account @amomama_usa.

The actress revealed that her father would talk to her about the hardships of life, and taught her the virtue of never giving up. Hargitay remembers the virtue as his life’s message.

Mickey was also incredibly supportive of Hargitay’s dreams of acting. The mother-of-two revealed that whenever she would land an audition, Mickey would ask her how hard she planned to work on getting the part.

Hargitay shared that her father’s question made her work harder, even in times when she did not feel up to it.


She admitted that her father’s words of motivation pushed her to display confidence even when she was uncertain, and she slowly evolved into a genuinely confident woman.


Over the years, Hargitay also came to realize that living beyond one’s fears pays off in significant ways. She attributes this attitude to her father, who passed away in 2006.

Having played the lead role in the NBC crime drama for 19 years, Hargitay has built a strong career in television. Looking back at life, Hargitay remarked that while there were dark times, life has also revealed its bright side.

She has been married to actor Peter Hermann for 14 years and is a doting mother to two sons and a daughter. 

Hargitay shared that she had taught herself to thrive despite the ups and downs of life, and her character on the show inspired her to fiercely protect herself, to never lose hope or give up.

As a mother-of-three, a wife, a TV actress and the head of her foundation, Hargitay asserted that she considered it important to stay strong and ‘live the journey.’