Daughter of Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay; younger sister of Zoltan Hargitay and Mickey Hargitay Jr., half-sister of Jayne Marie Mansfield (Jayne's daughter from her first marriage), Tony Cimber (from her mother's third marriage), and of Tina Hargitay (from her father's first marriage with Mary Birge, born 1949).
Replaced Gabrielle Fitzpatrick in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie (1995) as Dulcea, but her scenes were reshot with Gabrielle Fitzpatrick returning as Dulcea. In 2009, she said she was lucky enough to have a father who told her not to quit acting after that experience.
Speaks English, French, Hungarian, Italian and Spanish.
In June 1967, she and her two brothers were asleep in the back seat of a car when it smashed into the back of a trailer truck instantly killing her mother (Jayne Mansfield), the driver and Mansfield's boyfriend, attorney Sam Brody. Miraculously, the three children escaped with minor injuries.
Majored in theatre at the University of California, Los Angeles.
Has a zig-zag scar down the side of her head from the 1967 crash that killed her mother, Jayne Mansfield. She was only three years old when she was involved in the crash and has no memory of the event.
Won the Miss Beverly Hills 1982 pageant.
Became good friends with Maria Bello when she had a recurring role on ER (1994) in 1997-1998.
Her father was Hungarian, while her American-born mother was of seven eighths British Isles (English and Cornish), and one eighth German, ancestry. Mariska's maternal grandparents were Vera J. Palmer and Herbert W. Palmer.
On one occasion, she came upon a pregnant woman who collapsed while in New York City. When no one else came to the woman's aid, she lapsed into her character on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) while aiding the victim.
One of People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful People in the World (2005).
She learned to swim at the age of two and later swam for her high school.
Founder and president of a non-profit organization to aid the victims of rape - The Joyful Heart Foundation.
Former sister-in-law of Dana Hargitay, ex-wife of her brother Miklos.
(August 28, 2004) Married Peter Hermann at California's Unitarian Historical Chapel.
First woman ever from the Law and Order franchise to receive award nominations and wins.
Gave birth, via C-section to her first child, a son, August Miklós Friedrich Hermann (10 lb., 9oz.), on June 28, 2006 at 3:21PM.
One of People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in the World (2006).
(September 14, 2006) Her father Mickey Hargitay died after a lengthy illness at age 80.
Following the family's acting lineage, Mariska has a cousin, actor Eddie Hargitay. Her father Mickey Hargitay is Eddie's godfather.
Spoke in 2007 for Girl Scouts of Greater New York Scholars Program about her career and how she became who she is.
One of People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in the World (2008).
Godmother of her Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) co-star, Christopher Meloni's daughter Sophia.
(January 13, 2009) Suffered a partially collapsed lung, following a bad fall during a stunt.
Her publicist is Gary Mantoosh.
Good friends with actress Hilary Swank. Hilary stays with Mariska when on location in New York.
Stepdaughter of Ellen Hargitay, a stewardess.
Friends with Angelique L'Amour, Glenn Close, Jennifer Barker, Ina Garten and Joely Fisher.
(April 7, 2011) Mariska and Peter Hermann adopted a baby girl and named her Amaya Josephine Hermann.
She has played the same character (Detective Olivia Benson) on five different series: Law & Order (1990), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005), Chicago Fire (2012) and Chicago P.D. (2014).
Was considered for the role of Annie Porter in Speed (1994), which went to Sandra Bullock.
On October 19, 2011, she and her husband Peter Hermann adopted a baby boy and named him Andrew Nicolas Hargitay Hermann.
Has a photograph of her mother, Jayne Mansfield, on her desk on the set of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999).
Very close friends with Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) co-star Christopher Meloni.
She can only remember two events from her life with her mother Jayne Mansfield, who died when Mariska was only three years old. One is when her mother served her breakfast, and the other is when she rubbed her head while they were in bed together.
In 1992, she was engaged to a studio executive, Lance Young, but later broke off the engagement.
When Jayne Mansfield was three years old, her father, who was thirty-four years old, died of a heart attack, leaving her with a shattering void in her life. In a eerie coincidence, when Mariska was three years old, her mother, who was thirty-four years old, died in a car crash. Mariska would later say that "losing my mother at such an early age is the scar of my soul".
She was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6328 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California on November 8, 2013.
Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, right next to her mother Jayne Mansfield's star.
She and Peter Hermann divide their time between New York and Los Angeles.
Aunt of Jianni Cimber (Tony's daughter), Brandon and Mickey Hargitay III.
Mariska trained with Joanne Baron in the two-year Meisner program.
She received a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame next to her mother's star.
She is a trained rape crisis counselor.
She auditioned for the role of Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993). Terry Farrell was eventually cast.
Directed Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999)'s 400th episode.
Is good friends with singer Taylor Swift, who named her pet cat Olivia Benson in tribute to Mariska's character on SVU. Likewise, Hargitay also appeared in the music video for Swift's song, "Bad Blood" as "Justice.".
She remembers very little about the car accident that killed her mother, Jayne Mansfield, her mother's boyfriend, and the car driver. She feels that she and her brother, Mickey Hargitay Jr., would have been killed if her mother hadn't made a last-minute decision to pull over and put little Mickey in the back seat of the car.
Has played Olivia Benson for 20 consecutive seasons, and in 2019 SVU was renewed for season 21, it breaks the record for most seasons played consecutively after James Arness and Kelsey Grammer.