The life of Mariska Hargitay

She’s the star of Law & Order and she’s working to transform society's response to sexual assault and domestic violence. This is Mariska Hargitay’s story.

More about Mariska

She's an advocate for survivors and an Emmy-winning actress who portrays a member of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. This is Mariska Hargitay.

She was born in 1964 in California and was raised in Los Angeles

She is the daughter of Hollywood royalty: Iconic actress and sex symbol Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay an actor who often appeared alongside Mansfield — and was 1955's Mister Universe. When she was 3, she was at the back of a car with her mother and 2 older brothers when it collided with a truck. Her mother died in the crash. She was 34 years old. At 18, Hargitay was crowned Miss Beverly Hills USA. Soon she enrolled in UCLA and started appearing in music videos, including Ronnie Milsap's "She Loves My Car." She also started appearing in TV series such as “Falcon Crest”, “Ellen” and a few roles as a detective. In 1997, she landed a recurring part in ER.

Career defining role

At 35, she was cast in the role that would define her career — a spin-off of the smash hit Law & Order. She was cast as Detective Olivia Benson whose mission is to solve sex crimes in New York. Hargitay completed training with rape crisis advocates to prepare for the role on Law and Order SVU. Over its years as a hit show, her character became a TV icon. Taylor Swift’s cat is even named after her. At 37, she met her husband, actor Peter Hermann, on the set of the show. They married 3 years later and have 3 kids. In 2003, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next to her mother.

An advocate for sexual assault victims

At 40, Hargitay started the Joyful Heart Foundation, and became a fierce advocate for survivors of sex assault. “Being immersed in this material and learning the statistics and learning about the shame and isolation that survivors of sexual violence feel. That is what really called me to start my own foundation, and to respond to the subject matter that I was being immersed in every day and saying in addition to talking about this on television, how can I personally respond and do more and bring the conversation out into the culture.”, she explained. In 2017, she testified in front of Congress about the rape testing kit backlog. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit untested in police departments across the U.S. Her humane portrayal of the detective has earned Hargitay an Emmy award Golden Globe Award. In September 2019, “Law and Order: SVU” became the longest-running live action series currently on television.


02/23/2020 2:57 PMupdated: 02/24/2020 3:35 PM
  • 37.5k
  • 50


  • Terry S.
    03/19/2020 17:55

    Very cool lady. Not just an actress, a positive voice for all people. As a sexual assault victim myself, I applaud her efforts, and a BIG of that show!

  • Kris B.
    03/19/2020 17:30

    Love u girl great work all if u on show

  • Kris B.
    03/19/2020 17:29

    U got that right

  • Kris B.
    03/19/2020 17:27

    U really have done a great service to all need help getting help out bad situation these prederder do

  • Fareeda B.
    03/18/2020 13:14


  • Lorrie F.
    03/17/2020 16:07

    Love Mariska 💖💖 she is an remarkable women and actress and I'm one of many of her BIGGEST fans ever !!

  • Rina B.
    03/15/2020 05:15

    Love you marishka

  • Priscilla H.
    03/14/2020 16:28

    You so much like your mother both are beautiful ladies

  • Catherine K.
    03/13/2020 05:01

    Beautiful Mariska Hargitay is my hero and Mariska Hargitay is my favorite amazing actress and I love you so much Mariska Hargitay is the queen that I care about the most and Mariska Hargitay mother Jayne Mansfield is gardian angel to her best fan.💪👩‍✈️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  • Angel I.
    03/12/2020 14:09

  • Carol M.
    03/08/2020 16:15


  • Kristy A.
    03/08/2020 12:29

    Good on you. Hope you get the laws changed and they start testing every rape kit.

  • Marianne L.
    03/07/2020 13:37

    I Love you Mariska. You are one remarkable women. I would Love to meet you someday. I can’t get enough of all your shows, I watch them over and over. ❤️💙❤️💙

  • Amiee P.
    03/06/2020 02:17

    I love her and have watched every episode of SVU sometimes twice. I was sexually abused by my father at 14 and never got justice for me so its stuck in the back of my head and now I'm 40. It's been hard through my life with relationships on top of the fact I've tried to confront my father who has never given me an answer. He got to run to another state for freedom. I wish I could meet her shes my icon and always will be.

  • Alonzo S.
    03/05/2020 14:21

    Love there show.

  • Alonzo S.
    03/05/2020 14:21

    Beautiful ❤️ lady.

  • Ronnie G.
    03/05/2020 02:15


  • Rachel A.
    03/03/2020 23:07

    Very smart...caring....tough lady!

  • Sandra M.
    02/29/2020 13:35

    Love the show, all of the characters!!

  • Tammy W.
    02/29/2020 10:23

    Thank you for bringing awareness about sexual assault & abuse,one step at a time.....just wish that women/children had more rights to their bodies & that rapist went to jail/prison instead of walking free 😭😭😭