Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Magdolina Hargitay (born January 23, 1964), ("MAH-rish-kah") is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning American actress best known for her role as Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.



She began her acting career by appearing on the television series Falcon Crest in 1987. She played a police officer in the short-lived 1992 series Tequila & Bonetti. She appeared during the fourth season of Seinfeld as one of the actors auditioning for Jerry.

She displayed her considerable comedic chops as sexy next-door neighbor Didi Edelstein in the short-lived 1995 sitcom Can't Hurry Love, a vehicle for Nancy McKeon.

Hargitay had a recurring role during the fourth season of ER, part of a story arc that lasted over a dozen episodes. The character she played was Cynthia Hooper. She has also appeared on the sitcom Ellen in an episode entitled 'The Mugging'. Since 1999 she has played the lead regular role of Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

In 2005 she lent her voice to the video game True Crime: New York City.

In 2006, Hargitay won an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.


In the freshman season of SVU (for Special Victims Unit, the subtitle of the series), in 1999-2000, Hargitay earned nominations from the Viewers for Quality Television for Best Actress, from the TV Guide Awards for Favorite Actress in a New Series and from the International Press Academy for Best Performance by an Actress in a Drama Series. She was also a 2004 Screen Actors Guild nominee. In addition, she is also a 2005 Screen Actors Guild nominee.

Hargitay won a Golden Globe in 2005 in the category of Best Actress in a Drama Series.

In 2004, 2005, and 2006, Hargitay's portrayal of Detective Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit garnered her Emmy nominations in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2006, Hargitay won the Emmy Award for the role. On-stage, she especially thanked her father for his support over the years (she was only three when her mother died).

Hargitay was named by People magazine in 2005 as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People, and in 2006 as one of People Magazine's World's Most Beautiful People.

Personal Life

Hargitay is the fourth of Jayne Mansfield's five children. Mansfield had divorced Hungarian-born former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay, in May 1963, but a judge later found their Mexican divorce invalid. They had reconciled a few months before Mariska's birth but in August 1964, another judge deemed the Mexican divorce to be legal, whereupon Mansfield married her third husband, Matt Cimber.

On the night of June 29, 1967, Hargitay and two of her brothers were asleep in the back seat of the car their mother and her boyfriend, lawyer Sam Brody, were riding in when it smashed into the back of a tractor-trailer. Hargitay's mother was killed instantly, as was Brody and their driver. Had the children not been lying down, they, too, would have been killed, but they escaped with only minor bruises. Hargitay, who has no memory of the accident, was left with a zig-zag scar down the side of her head.

She learned her father's native language, Hungarian, but also speaks fluent French and Italian. Her first and middle names are Hungarian and reference Mary Magdalen (Mariska is a Hungarian diminutive for Maria and henceforth Mary).

Hargitay graduated in 1987 from the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television[1] with a major in theatre. She is also an alumna of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

In April 2004, she announced her engagement to Special Victims Unit actor Peter Hermann. They were married on August 28, 2004, in California. The couple's wedding was in Santa Barbara in front of 200 guests.

On November 30, 2005, Hargitay's publicist announced that she and Hermann are expecting their first child, a son, in early June 2006. Mariska stayed on SVU through most of her pregnacy. Speaking about her pregnancy, Hargitay said, "I'm loving every minute of it and am so excited to be a mom"[2]. During the last few months of her pregnancy, Mariska took a maternity leave from SVU and was temporarily replaced by Connie Nielsen.

On June 28, 2006, Hargitay gave birth to her first child, August Miklos Friedrich Hermann, by caesarean section. He weighed 10 lb. 9 oz., after being six days overdue. August was born at 3:20p.m. at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Charity Work

Hargitay co-founded an organization called the Joyful Heart Foundation to help women who have been sexually assaulted. This charity gives victims an opportunity to swim with wild dolphins in Hawaii as water therapy.

In addition to her own Joyful Heart Foundation, Mariska has worked with the Mount Sinai Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention program, NBC's “The More You Know” campaign, the Safe Horizons advocacy project, Santa Monica Rape Crisis Treatment Center, Project ALS, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness. She is a certified rape crisis counselor.

Hargitay has co-hosted and attended a number of Safe Horizons events with former SVU co-star Stephanie March. March met future husband, chef Bobby Flay, after being set up on the blind-date by Mariska.


  • Freedom Dance (2006) (Animated Documentary)
  • America Rebuilds: Return to Ground Zero (2006) (TV)
  • Plain Truth (2004) (TV)
  • Perfume (2001)
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999 - present) (TV series)
  • Lake Placid (1999)
  • Prince Street (1997) (TV series)
  • The Advocate's Devil (1997) (TV)
  • Night Sins (1997) (mini series)
  • ER (1996) (TV series)
  • Ellen (1996) (TV series)
  • Can't Hurry Love (1995) (TV series)
  • Leaving Las Vegas (1995)
  • Gambler V: Playing for Keeps (1994) (TV)
  • Bank Robber (1993)
  • Blind Side (1993) (TV)
  • Seinfeld (1993) (TV)
  • Tequila & Bonetti (1992) (TV series)
  • Grapevine (1992) (TV series)
  • Sutoroberi rodo (1991)
  • The Perfect Weapon (1991)
  • Hard Time Romance (1991)
  • Finish Line (1989) (TV)
  • Falcon Crest (1981) (TV series) (1988)
  • Mr. Universe (1988)
  • Jocks (1987)
  • Downtown (1986) (TV series)
  • Welcome to 18 (1986)
  • Ghoulies (1985)
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