Mariska hargitay biography book

Mariska Hargitay (pron.: /m??r??k? ?h?r??te?/ m?-rish-k? har-gi-tay; born Mariska Magdolna Hargitay; January 23, 1964) is an American actress, best known for her role as New York City sex crimes Detective Olivia Benson on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a role that has earned her multiple awards and nominations, including an Emmy and Golden Globe.
The daughter of actress Jayne Mansfield and actor/bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, Hargitay is a former beauty queen who made her film debut in the 1985 horror-comedy film Ghoulies, and her major television debut in the 1986 adventure drama series Downtown. She appeared in numerous roles in film and television shows throughout the late 1980s and 1990s before being cast as Olivia Benson, a role that led to her founding the Joyful Heart Foundation, which provides support to women who have been sexually abused.

This book is your ultimate resource for Mariska Hargitay. Here you will find the most up-to-date information, photos, and much more.

In easy to read chapters, with extensive references and links to get you to know all there is to know about Mariska Hargitay’s Early life, Career and Personal life right away. A quick look inside: Mariska Hargitay, 10th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 12th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 13th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 15th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 16th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 35th People’s Choice Awards, 37th People’s Choice Awards, 56th Primetime Emmy Awards, 57th Primetime Emmy Awards, 58th Primetime Emmy Awards, 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, 62nd Golden Globe Awards, 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards, 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards, 66th Golden Globe Awards, All American Girl (1994 TV series), Blind Side (HBO film), Ghoulies, Harry Connick, Jr., Lake Placid (film), Mickey Hargitay, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, The Pilot (Seinfeld) 150…and more pages!

Contains selected content from the highest rated entries, typeset, printed and shipped, combining the advantages of up-to-date and in-depth knowledge with the convenience of printed books. A portion of the proceeds of each book will be donated to the Wikimedia Foundation to support their mission.


Mariska (Ma-rish-ka) Magdolna Hargitay was born on January 23, 1964, in Santa Monica, California. Her parents are Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield. She is the youngest of their three children. In June 1967, Mariska and her brothers Zoltan and Mickey Jr. were in the back seat of a car when it was involved in the fatal accident which killed her mother. The children escaped with minor injuries. Her father remarried a stewardess named Ellen, and they raised the three children and gave them a normal childhood. They also financially supported the children, since Jayne Mansfield’s debt-ridden estate left no money for them.
Mariska majored in theater at UCLA. Her first motion picture feature was the cult favorite, Ghoulies (1984), where she gave a memorable performance as Donna. Unlike her mother Jayne, who had changed her name, her hair color, and did nude pictorials to become a star, Mariska took a very different approach on her journey to become a star. She rejected advice to change her name and appearance. And she refused to copy her mother’s sexy image by turning down nude scenes in her next film Jocks (1986). She told casting directors that she was her own person when she held onto her dark locks and athletic figure, when they were expecting another blond, buxom Jayne Mansfield. Mariska continued with her acting classes and waited on tables, while she landed forgettable roles in short-lived television shows. She appeared a few times on the nighttime soap Falcon Crest (1981). She also appeared in the hit film Leaving Las Vegas (1995), credited as ‘Hooker at the bar’, and in the flop film Lake Placid (1999) as Myra Okubo. Her recurring role on the top-rated show ER (1994) in 1998 gave her career enough of a jolt to land her the starring role of Det. Olivia Benson in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999), the first spin off from the excellent franchise of Law & Order (1990). The hour-long show deals with sex crimes and the detectives who solve these cases. Mariska played Olivia as a tough, compassionate detective, who did action scenes and her own stunt work. She reaped the rewards from the hit TV show, after struggling and studying her craft for fifteen years. She became the highest paid actress on television, and she won Emmy and Golden Globe awards for her performance. The show also changed her personal life, since she met her husband actor Peter Hermann on the set and married him on August 28, 2004. That same year, she appeared in the television movie Plain Truth (2004), in which she played attorney Ellie Harrison. Mariska became an activist, when fans of her show who were abused, would write to her, and she founded a non-profit organization called “Joyful Heart Foundation” to help “survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.”
Mariska gave birth to her son August in 2006. But that tremendous joy was soon followed by tremendous sadness when her beloved father Mickey died just two months later at the age of 80. Mariska and her husband Peter adopted two children, a girl named Amaya, and a boy named Andrew, within a span of few months in 2011.
Mariska speaks English, Hungarian, French, Spanish, and Italian, and her husband also speaks several languages, including his native language German. They divide their time between New York and Los Angeles.

– IMDb Mini Biography By: Debby — The Binary Vixen

The Mariska Hargitay Handbook – Everything You Need to Know about Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay (pron.: /m r k? ?h?r te?/ m?-rish-k? har-gi-tay; born Mariska Magdolna Hargitay; January 23, 1964) is an American actress, best known for her role as New York City sex crimes Detective Olivia Benson on the NBC television drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a role that has earned her multiple awards and nominations, including an Emmy and Golden Globe. The daughter of actress Jayne Mansfield and actor/bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, Hargitay is a former beauty queen who made her film debut in the 1985 horror-comedy film Ghoulies, and her major television debut in the 1986 adventure drama series Downtown. She appeared in numerous roles in film and television shows throughout the late 1980s and 1990s before being cast as Olivia Benson, a role that led to her founding the Joyful Heart Foundation, which provides support to women who have been sexually abused.

This book is your ultimate resource for Mariska Hargitay. Here you will find the most up-to-date information, photos, and much more.

In easy to read chapters, with extensive references and links to get you to know all there is to know about Mariska Hargitay’s Early life, Career and Personal life right away. A quick look inside: Mariska Hargitay, 10th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 12th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 13th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 15th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 16th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 17th Screen Actors Guild Awards, 35th People’s Choice Awards, 37th People’s Choice Awards, 56th Primetime Emmy Awards, 57th Primetime Emmy Awards, 58th Primetime Emmy Awards, 59th Primetime Emmy Awards, 60th Primetime Emmy Awards, 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, 62nd Golden Globe Awards, 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards, 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards, 66th Golden Globe Awards, All American Girl (1994 TV series), Blind Side (HBO film), Ghoulies, Harry Connick, Jr., Lake Placid (film), Mickey Hargitay, Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, The Pilot (Seinfeld) 150…and more pages!

Contains selected content from the highest rated entries, typeset, printed and shipped, combining the advantages of up-to-date and in-depth knowledge with the convenience of printed books. A portion of the proceeds of each book will be donated to the Wikimedia Foundation to support their mission.

In the early morning hours of 29 June 1967, on a narrow country road near a Louisiana swamp, a grey 1966 Buick Electra glided through the dark on its way to New Orleans. The road ahead was obscured by a white haze laid down by a distant mosquito fogger which prevented the car’s driver from discerning the presence of a slow-moving tractor-trailer ahead of him. At approximately 2:15 a.m., the Electra slammed into that truck, then slid under it. All three adults sitting in the car’s front seat were killed instantly, but surprisingly, the three children riding in the back seat were cushioned from serious harm. Dead at the scene were the driver, Ronnie Harrison; actress Jayne Mansfield; Mansfield’s boyfriend Sam Brody; and Mansfield’s small dog. Three of Mansfield’s five children (Mariska, 3; Zoltan, 6; and Miklos Jr., 8; all fathered by her second husband, Mickey Hargitay), survived the accident.

The precise nature of the injuries inflicted in this accident would not usually bear thinking about, but rumors about the death of one of the passengers was turned into the stuff of contemporary lore when it became “common knowledge” that Jayne Mansfield had been decapitated. It is because this belief is as widespread as it is that this topic merits study, and it is due to the nature of the rumor that the discussion needs to be as detailed as it does.

Although Mansfield’s actual mode of death was gruesome, she was not beheaded. According to the police report on the accident, “the upper portion of this white female’s head was severed.” Her death certificate notes a “crushed skull with avulsion (forcible separation or detachment) of cranium and brain.” One thinks of a beheading as the neck’s being sliced through, causing the head to be separated from the body, but that is clearly not what happened here. Scalping is perhaps a closer description of Mansfield’s fate, but even that word does not accurately reflect the cranial trauma she suffered, because scalping victims at least retain an intact skull. The Angel of Death did not afford Mansfield this luxury: Her skull was cracked or sliced open, and a sizeable piece of it was carried away.

As gruesome as this mode of death was, it at least had the benefit of being quick. Mansfield probably never felt what happened to her, and because of the sharply reduced visibility conditions on the road that night, she likely had only an instant of “We’re going to crash!” shock to cope with before the impact.

Kenneth Anger’s 1975 Hollywood Babylon contains a controversial photo of the wrecked Electra which shows Mansfield’s dead dog lying beside the car as well as another item that has aroused considerable dicussion, something that appears to be a clutch of human hair. Debate continues as to whether what was captured in that photo was the top part of Mansfield’s head, a wig she was wearing (or carrying) at the time of the crash, or something else entirely.

Some have chosen to attribute Mansfield’s early demise (she was only 34) to a curse somehow connected to the International Church of Satan, an institution founded in 1966 by Anton LaVey. Little is known about the rumored curse, but LaVey is on record as saying it was worked upon her by a consort. Another version has LaVey laying it onto Mansfield’s boyfriend Sam Brody, supposedly because Brody was disruptive during Church services and was making Mansfield’s life a hell on earth. That the alleged curse also ended up taking the life of one it was meant to help is deeply ironic. Since 1994

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Actress Mariska Hargitay arrives at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles, California, August 30, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok – RTX1QBZX

It took many years for Mariska Hargitay to heal from her tragic past.

At age 3, the “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” star lost her mother, actress Jayne Mansfield, in a 1967 car accident that also killed Mansfield’s driver Ronnie Harrison and lawyer Sam Brody.

Mansfield’s three children with husband, actor and 1955 Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay, survived the crash. The popular pinup, who was often compared to fellow blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe, was 34 when she was killed instantly.

“In some ways, being the daughter of a Hollywood icon has been a burden,” the now-53-year-old admitted to Closer Weekly. “I used to hate constant references to my mom because I wanted to be known for myself. Losing my mother at such a young age is the scar of my soul.”

Hargitay has found success in Hollywood as an actress, and she doesn’t physically resemble her famous mother, which may have saved her from unwanted comparisons throughout her career. However, she inherited one recognizable trait from her mom, according to her half-brother.

“Mariska was a goofball — a fun, silly, sweet girl,” her half-brother Tony Cimber told the magazine. “She was always very positive and laughing. She’s got the funniest laugh you’ve ever heard, and she’s had it for her entire life.”

Hargitay added she’s been told her laugh resembles her late mother’s.

She also admitted motherhood has changed her life.

Back in 2012, PEOPLE Magazine reported Hargitay and her husband, actor Peter Hermann, adopted a baby boy and girl. The couple also share a biological son.

“Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy,” she said. “I understand in a new way that gives me peace. Now I understand the love she had in her, and it makes me feel closer to her.”

Who Is Mariska Hargitay’s Mom? The Tragic Truth About the ‘Law & Order: SVU’ Star’s Past

To many TV viewers, Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay probably feels like family. For the past 20 years, we’ve been watching as Detective Olivia Benson has solved heartbreaking crimes and fought for justice for victims. In fact, the enduring NBC show is now tied with the original Law & Order and Gunsmoke for the honor of being the longest-running live-action TV drama.

But what some viewers might not know is that Hargitay comes from a famous Hollywood family with a tragic history.

Jayne Mansfield is Mariska Hargitay’s mom

Jayne Mansfield | Hulton Archive/Getty Images | Mariska Hargitay | Tibrina Hobson/Getty Images

The 54-year-old Law & Order star is the daughter of actress Jayne Mansfield and actor and bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay.

Along with stars like Marilyn Monroe and Mamie Van Doren, Mansfield was one of the most famous blonde Hollywood bombshells of the 1950s and 1960s. She was known for her roles in movies like The Girl Can’t Help It, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, The Wayward Bus, and Kiss Them for Me, as well as her work on stage and in television.

Mansfield also posed for Playboy and had a serious knack for self-promotion. Known as the “working man’s Monroe,” she would stage strategic wardrobe malfunctions and rarely turned down an opportunity for an interview or public appearance. Ninety percent of the people at her 1957 wedding to Hargitay were reporters, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“If it weren’t for Mansfield then, there would likely be no Kardashians today,” the magazine noted.

A tragic end

While Mansfield was a big star, her popularity had started to wane by the 1960s. In 1967, she was traveling from Biloxi, Mississippi, where she’d recently performed, to New Orleans when the car she was riding in slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer. Mansfield was killed instantly,along with the two other passengers in the front seat of the vehicle. She was 34 years old.

Three of Mansfield’s five children were also in the car – 8-year-old Mickey Jr., 6-year-old Zoltan, and 3-year-old Mariska. All three survived the crash with minor injuries. (Their father, who divorced from Mansfield, wasn’t in the car at the time of the accident.)

How Hargitay coped with her mother’s loss

Jayne Mansfield in Venice with film producer Enrico Bomba in 1962. | Keystone Features/Getty Images

Hargitay has said in interviews that she has no recollection of the deadly accident, but has called losing her mother at a young age “the scar of my soul.” Though she was only three when her mother passed away, the actress says she feels Manfield’s presence in her life.

“Someone once said about my mother: ‘All you have to do is look in the mirror,” Hargitay told People magazine earlier this year. “She’s with me still.”

“The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it,” she added. “As the saying goes, the only way out is through. In my life, certainly I’ve tried to avoid pain, loss, feeling things. But I’ve learned instead to real­ly lean into it, because sooner or later you have to pay the piper.”

How she wants her mother to be remembered

While Mansfield is best remembered for her curvy figure and drop-dead gorgeous looks, Hargitay wants people to know that her mother was more than just a sex symbol.

“My mother was this amazing, beautiful, glamor­ous sex symbol — but people didn’t know that she played the violin and had a 160 IQ and had five kids and loved dogs,” she said in the interview with People. “She was just so ahead of her time. She was an inspiration, she had this appetite for life, and I think I share that with her.”

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Mariska Hargitay bio: age, husband, children, net worth

Being one of Hollywood’s appreciated movie stars requires consistency and relevance. Mariska Hargitay, better known as Olivia Benson on the drama series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit has graced TV screens for a long time. The show that recently launched its 21st season made history as the longest-running drama primetime series. Her production, I Am Evidence won an Emmy for the Best Documentary proving her prowess and talent in production.

Image:, @therealmariskahargitay
Source: Instagram

Who is Mariska Hargitay? Mariska is an accomplished actress and film producer popularly known for her starring role as Olivia Benson on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. She is also the founder of Joyful Heart Foundation. The non-profit organization’s mission is to provide support to survivors of sexual assault, child abuse, and domestic violence.

Profile summary

  • Name: Mariska Magdolna Hargitay
  • Date of birth: January 23, 1964
  • Age: 55 years
  • Place of birth: Santa Monica, California, U.S
  • Alma mater: University of California, Los Angeles
  • Nationality: American
  • Race: White
  • Eye colour: Dark brown
  • Hair colour: Dark brown
  • Spouse: Peter Hermann (married in 2004)
  • Children: Amaya Josephine Hermann, August Miklos Hermann, Andrew Nicholas Hermann
  • Father: Mickey Hargitay
  • Mother: Jayne Mansfield
  • Height: 1.72m (5ft 7 inches)
  • Weight: 65kg (143 lbs)
  • Religion: Catholic
  • Net worth: $50 million
  • Profession: Actor, film producer

Early life

How old is Mariska Hargitay? Mariska Hargitay age is 55 years. She was born on January 23, 1964, in Santa Monica, California. Both Mariska Hargitay parents were Hollywood stars. Her father, Mickey Hargitay, was a bodybuilder and Mr Universe (1955). Her mother, Jayne Mansfield, was an American actress, entertainer, singer and a major Hollywood sex symbol. She died in a road accident in 1967, and the father remarried a woman named Elle Siano.

Mariska attended Mary Mount High School and later UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television. While in high school, she enjoyed acting and cheerleading and was crowned Miss Beverly Hills USA in 1982. She then attended Groundlings Theatre and School in Los Angeles.

Image:, @therealmariskahargitay
Source: Instagram


Hargitay began her television career in 1986 with a one-season adventure drama series Downtown. After that, she appeared in Tequila and Bonetti (1992), Can’t Hurry Love (1995) and played the role of a detective on Prince Street (1997). The actress had made a name for herself as a promising actress, and she featured in several TV series after that. They are:

  • Law and Order: Special Victims Unit(1999-present) – She is best known for her role as Olivia Benson in the drama series. She has directed five episodes of the series and also served as a producer since 2014.
  • Traci From Nightcap (Guest in a Snake) – She agreed to a dangerous stunt involving an anaconda.
  • Chicago Fire(2015) – She appeared as Sergent Benson.
  • Law and Order(2000-2005) – She appeared as Olivia Benson.
  • Law and Order: Trial by Jury(2005) – She starred as Benson.
  • Plain Truth – She appeared as Ellie Harrison.
  • ER(1997-1998) – She appeared as Cynthia Hooper.
  • Cracker(1997) – She appeared in the true romance series.
  • Prince street(1997) – She starred as detective Nina Echeverria.
  • The single guy(1996) – Appeared as Kate.
  • Can’t Hurry Love(1996) – Appeared as Didi Edelstein.
  • Batwatch(1989) – Appeared as Lisa Peters.
  • Downtown(1986)- She starred as Jesse Smith.

She was also cast in several movies such as The Love Guru(2008), Perfume(2001) and Lake Placid(1999).

Mariska Hargitay mother

Mariska Hargitay mom was a major Hollywood actress, model and singer. Vera Jayne Palmer, better known as Jayne Mansfield, was born on April 19, 1933. She began her acting career in Southern Methodist University and the University of Texas in Austin. Her initial years in Hollywood were a fail with unsuccessful auditions for Paramount and Warner Bros. She later gained popularity and appeared in several shows like Kiss Them For Me (1957), The Wayward Bus (1957), The Sheriff of Fractured Jaw (1958) and It Takes a Thief (1960).

Jayne was better known as a model than an actress, and she appeared on Playboy magazine several times. She was also a successful entertainer and headliner in Vegas night clubs.

She married Mickey Hargitay in 1958 and together, they had three children including actress Mariska. They later parted ways after a turbulent marriage.

Unfortunately, Jayne perished when she was only 34 years old. On June 29, 1967, when traveling to New Orleans with her kids, she succumbed to a fatal road accident while her children survived with minor injuries.

Mariska Hargitay husband

Mariska’s husband is Younger star, Peter Hermann. Karl Peter Albert Herman was born on August 15, 1967, in New York, USA and is currently aged 52 years. He has appeared in several TV shows such as Gifted Man (2011-2012), Blue Bloods (2012-present) and Elementary (2013). Hargitay met the American actor, producer and writer on the set of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (1999). They got married in August 2004 in Santa Barbara, California.

Mariska Hargitay kids

The actress has three children with her husband, Peter Herman. Two of Mariska Hargitay children are adopted. Their first son, August Miklos Herman was born on June 28, 2006, via C-section. The couple adopted their daughter Amaya Josephine on April 2011 and third child, Andrew on October 19, 2011.

In an interview with People, Mariska said she had always considered adoption. Her upbringing with half-siblings influenced her definition of a family saying it is more than just about biology. Mariska Hargitay family is super sweet, and she sometimes shares photos of them on her social media pages.

Mariska Hargitay measurements

How tall is Mariska? Mariska Hargitay height is 1.72 m. The actress has a slim build with body measurements 37-28-36. Her dress size is 10 (US) /40 (EU) and shoe size is 9.5 (US)/40(EU). Her eye colour and hair colour is dark brown. The award-winning actress has maintained her beautiful body. Here is one of Mariska Hargitay hot photos:

Image:, @therealmariskahargitay
Source: Instagram

Mariska Hargitay net worth

Most of the actress’s wealth comes from her role in the drama series, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Her estimated net worth is $50 million with a salary of $450, 000 per episode.

Mariska charity works

Mariska founded Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004 to assist survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. The foundation provides remedial programs to women and child survivors in areas like New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii. The programs involve meditation, yoga, massage, journaling, and swimming with dolphins.

The actress has also raised awareness about the statistics of untested rape kits. In 2017, she produced a documentary titled I Am Evidence to portray the life of survivors and how the criminal justice system deals with sexual assault cases. The HBO film was named the best documentary in the 40th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

Other charities and foundations that the actress supports include;

  • Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.- She was a board member in 2015
  • Barbara Davis Centre for Childhood Diabetes
  • Worldwide Orphans Foundation

Awards and nominations

The established Hollywood actress has won an Emmy and Golden Globe for her role in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. She has been nominated for eight Emmy Awards, six Screen Actors Guild(SAG) Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. In 2011, she was awarded the UCLA TFT Distinguished Alumni Award. She was also awarded the Hollywood Walk of Fame sSar on November 8, 2013.

Mariska Hargitay is a talented actress who has continued to impress her fans and viewers. She is passionate about women’s rights and is vocal about her activism as seen on her social media pages. The new season of Law and Order will definitely keep her fans glued to their screens.

Mariska Hargitay doesn’t just play a police officer on TV; she thinks and acts like one, even after they call “Cut.” Given that she’s spent more than a decade in character, it makes sense that the role is almost second nature. What’s surprising: The skills she learned from her detective alter ego — how to assess people’s behavior, protect herself, speak with authority, and handle a crisis — serve her remarkably well in daily life as a wife, mom, and friend.

“I can go totally into cop mode,” says the star of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, remembering the time she rushed to the aid of a pregnant woman who had fainted on a New York City sidewalk. “I yelled, ‘Call 911; get her water.’ Then I started going through all of the questions with her that could answer what might be wrong with her. It was completely like an episode of the show.”

After 11 years portraying Olivia Benson, the tough but compassionate Manhattan sex-crimes detective, the 46-year-old actress has developed sure instincts and quick reflexes. The role has had a deep impact on the most personal aspects of her life, including her marriage to actor Peter Hermann and her approach to parenting their son, August. “It really prepared me for motherhood, because as a cop, you are in charge of any emergency and you need to stay calm, take control, and get the help and the attention you need to fix it. It’s the same thing with being a parent.”

Hargitay doesn’t have to wait long to illustrate her point. It’s a lazy summer afternoon at her place in New York’s Hamptons, which is known as Happy House (that name is even printed on paper napkins and embroidered on the guest towels), and she is kicking back in the yard in a blue paisley dress. She’s gorgeous without any makeup except for a bit of color on her mouth (“I can’t live without lip gloss,” she confesses), and barefoot, as she prefers to be — even when she’s driving. “I’m a California girl,” Hargitay says with a shrug.

Suddenly, here comes 4-year-old August, a rambunctious charmer who runs toward his mother. There’s a look of mild panic on his face, eyes partly cloudy with a chance of tears.

“Momma, my skin is falling off!” he says, pointing to a flaky patch on his lightly tanned shoulder.

“Did it hurt?” he asks, relieved yet still curious.

“Not a bit, my angel,” she answers.

Watch an exclusive video from our cover shoot with Mariska!

Growing Up the Hard Way

Hargitay’s childhood wasn’t quite as idyllic as August’s. She was born into celebrity, the daughter of two pop-culture icons — ’50s sex symbol Jayne Mansfield and bodybuilder-actor Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay. The couple divorced around the time their daughter was born, and Mansfield — an underappreciated actress who spoke several languages and played classical violin — died in a tragic car crash in 1967, when Mariska was younger than her own son is now.

Hargitay’s father had remarried before Mansfield’s accident. Hargitay says her stepmom, Ellen, is a loving and fearless woman. “She’d be the one to grab a frying pan when there was an intruder in the house while my dad and I hid under our beds.” Growing up with two older brothers, Hargitay became a tomboy and a jock without abandoning her girly side. “You should’ve seen my big hair in the ’80s,” she laughs. “That was a real project.”

In her finding-out-who-she-was late teens and early 20s, Hargitay acutely felt the pain of not really having known her world-famous mother. Everyone she met, however, had an opinion about Jayne Mansfield, and as an aspiring actress, Hargitay faced more scrutiny than most Hollywood kids. Casting agents suggested nose jobs and name changes, and Hargitay had to learn to persevere with faith and determination. She followed the example of her father, who emigrated from Hungary and became Mr. Universe in 1955. “He was truly an original man who dared to live the American dream and instilled in his children the idea that if he could do it, we could, too,” Hargitay says.

Miklós Hargitay died of cancer in 2006, shortly after his daughter gave birth to August and won an Emmy for her work on SVU. “I am grateful he had a chance to look into his grandson’s eyes and pass along his love and strength,” she said of that bittersweet moment.

Her father had been her rock, always encouraging her passions. “The message I got from my father was that life is hard, but you just don’t quit,” Hargitay says. “I am grateful that I didn’t let fear get the best of me. It only holds you back from possibilities and greatness. You’ve got to kick fear to the side, because the payoff is huge.”

Hargitay is living proof. As a younger woman, she experienced anxiety — one of her biggest fears was that she might not live longer than her mother, who died at 34 — and struggled with low self-esteem, hampered by fear. Now the life of the party who loves to play hostess, Hargitay says she once blew off other people’s get-togethers: “I thought, What’s the point? They won’t even notice that I’m not there.” Today she celebrates every moment she can: “I realize that you have to show up for your life.”

Until her mid-30s, financial success eluded the woman who is now one of the highest-paid actresses on a network drama. Hargitay’s income from short-lived series and guest roles in sitcoms was so unreliable that she racked up six-figure debts. “I had a house and car I didn’t want to lose,” she admits, “and I had a lot of credit card debt.” For a while she had a boyfriend who paid her bills. “When we broke up, he said I owed him 60 grand,” Hargitay says, cracking up. “I’m a payer-backer. So as soon as I could, I paid him off.” When you’re an actor, money comes and goes, she adds, “but now I have learned to hang on to it. I have a nest egg, and I don’t buy above my means.” It’s a practical approach that would work for anyone.

Changing Her Luck

At 35, Hargitay landed the part of flinty, lionhearted detective Olivia Benson on SVU. Her old friends in Hollywood were amazed — and amused. “They said, ‘I don’t know how you got this,'” Hagitay says. “I was a total chicken.” There was no guarantee the show would become the success it is today, but seeing it as a great opportunity, Hargitay took the role and moved cross-country to New York.

The series made Hargitay a beloved TV star and, in 2001, brought her together with Hermann, who plays a recurring character on the show, Trevor Langan — or, as Hargitay puts it, “a dirtbag defense attorney.”

This role of a lifetime also gave her a life mission. Shaken by the content of her show’s scripts and the brutal statistics she learned, and moved by countless letters from women who watched the show and wrote to her disclosing that they had been raped, Hargitay became politicized. In 2004, the actress founded the Joyful Heart Foundation (, which helps survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse through retreats, education, and advocacy. These days, in addition to acting and wife-and-mothering, the foundation is her passion.

Playing Olivia Benson, she says, “fulfills me as an artist and rewards me even more as a human being. It is powerful and life-affirming to extend my hand and my heart to those who are in need.” Becoming a mom only deepened those feelings: “You realize when you become a mom that everyone you look at is somebody’s kid. Caring for August makes me even more committed to helping others.”

As if on cue, August reappears, wearing board shorts and a surfer-style rash-guard shirt. “Momma, watch,” he says, scampering toward the backyard pool (one of his favorite spots, where he and his mom often play a game they call Shark). He jumps in and paddles his way to the center. Without a trace of a reprimand, Hargitay channels the no-nonsense voice she uses on TV: “OK, that’s far enough. Swim to the side now: Five, four, three, two …” She pulls him from the water into her warm embrace and sends him to the house to get changed.

“In the beginning, all that authority was a stretch for me to act,” Hargitay says. “Playing this part has developed in me a kind of muscle and a commanding voice that are quite useful as a person and a mom.”

Mariska the Missus

Today, in her backyard with friends and family — “we love to pile houseguests in” — Hargitay has little more to worry about than pulling lunch together. “I set a mean table,” she says, pointing to a festive dining area underneath the canopy of a cherry tree. Hermann, who was born in Germany, tells August to take his place at the table — in German. “We want him to be multilingual,” says Hargitay, who speaks Hungarian, Italian, and French. “Peter speaks to him in German. God knows I can’t do it.”

“Everyone, please hold hands,” August directs as his father, then his mother, says grace. They give thanks for the food, their health, the beautiful day, and the company of friends. They ask for guidance and to grow closer to God.

Though Hargitay and Hermann met at work, their first real date was at his church. “It was pretty sacred and profound in our life,” Hargitay says. “It completely set the tone for our relationship and our marriage.”

Though she was raised Catholic and has a very strong faith, Hargitay calls herself a Christian who doesn’t go to church every Sunday. “Religion has caused wars and also a lot of pain, and I don’t think that’s what God intended,” she says with quiet conviction. “I find faith to be a more private thing. For me, it’s about my personal relationship with God. I think God has a plan, and a big one. I try to live in gratitude and awe and to get to know Him better and pray that He helps guide me in the decisions I make.”

She believes in signs. And on that day, in that church, an inner voice told her that she had not gotten married yet because she had been waiting for Hermann. “I had been engaged before, but what I felt for Peter I had never felt before — it was knowing that someone else put you first and that you put him first. A lot of people have doubts on their wedding day, but I was never so sure and happy. We were going into the unknown together and were taking care of each other the way you’re supposed to when you are married.”

Wed for six years now, Hargitay describes her marriage as the perfect balance of opposites: “I bring him out, he brings me in; he slows me down, I make him go faster.” She and Hermann are “really different,” she says. “Sometimes we want to do really different things, and that is hard to navigate. We have to sit down and figure out how to carve this time out for you and this for me, because we need both. That’s just the way we are, so let’s just make peace with it.”

Hargitay says many actors have given her the same wise marriage advice: Never be away from each other for more than two weeks, or you’ll start leading separate lives. “I don’t always know what he’s thinking, but we want the same things. We trust that the other person wants what we want and shares the same values. That’s our gift. Even if we don’t talk all day, we are connected.”

They grab all the time together — and with August — that they possibly can. On weekends, there is no sleeping in, she says, and her husband whips up “a whole big breakfast extravaganza with pancakes, bacon and eggs, oatmeal, and apples.”

When they have time without their son, they read together or catch a movie. “I don’t have a normal job where you can have date night. We just had a ‘two-weeks-in-Paris-with-August’ date, which is better than any date night,” she says, grinning.

Asked about the key to her marriage, she reveals that the toughest moments have often ended up being the greatest: “We’ve said really honest things to each other — about how we feel and what we want — and I’ve thought for sure we were going to break up. And then we laugh, we can make a joke about what we talk about, and it becomes a part of the repertoire of the relationship. It’s not this secret you carry anymore. We have it out in the open. It dissipates any bad feelings, because you know the person heard you and it registered.”

The Mommy Diaries

Hargitay dotes on the guests at this impromptu Happy House party, but August gets special attention. When it comes to getting her kid to eat vegetables, Hargitay is downright wily.

Becoming a mom has brought Hargitay to a new way of thinking about her own mother, who had five kids. “It’s not a source of pain or angst anymore,” she says. “I understand her in a new way that gives me peace. Being a mom has been healing. Now I understand the love she had in her, and it makes me feel closer to her.”

As her guests enjoy dessert — rhubarb tarts, ice cream, and Hargitay’s homemade cupcakes — `the hostess says, “August has great manners, and I am very proud of that. We are on him like white on rice about looking into someone’s eyes if you are saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or apologizing. Or when you are meeting someone. You know how some kids say ‘Nice to meet you’ and they’re looking down? I hate that.”

Hargitay sticks out her arm to shake hands. Her grip is firm. “You’ve got to teach them young. I don’t want any fishy handshakes,” she says.

When it comes to discipline, she and Hermann don’t play good cop — bad cop: “The one rule that we follow is: Always stick up for the other parent no matter what. And if you disagree, you talk it over in private, not in front of your child.”

But other than stepping away to negotiate parenting ground rules with Hermann, Hargitay likes to spend as much time with August as possible. The two are inseparable when she’s at home. “Bath time is such fun. I get in trouble with Peter because I’ll stay in the bathroom with August for hours just laughing.” Often she’ll put August to bed and get caught up in reading Eric Carle or Maurice Sendak books: “It’s a special bonding time, and lots of interesting things come out when he is downloading the events of the day.” Together, mother and son tend to lose track of time.

Hargitay is quick to acknowledge that as a parent, the hours she works are a challenge. Some days, she goes to work before August gets up and doesn’t get home until he’s in bed, though she video-chats with him from the set. “When you love your kid, there’s a string that attaches you, and you are always connected even when you are doing other things,” she says.

Technology also allows her to stay close to her circle of creative working-mom friends, which includes Maria Bello and Debra Messing. Hargitay initiated a “Happy Monday” e-mail in which they send one another the latest cute photos of their kids.

“I get jealous that other people get to take August to school and pick him up,” she says. “It’s hard for me to go to his school and not know all the parents. They all know one another, and it’s a community. I can’t always be a part of that. You can’t have everything, though.”

Becoming a mother at 42, she believes, was blessing enough. “When I think about having a bigger family, sometimes I am so in love with August that I can’t imagine anything else, and it’s so perfect, our little triangle here. But then you think, Oh, I want to have another kid.” Would she consider adopting? It’s not out of the question, she says.

Finding Her Joy

When she first took the role of Olivia Benson in 1999, Hargitay was stunned by the crime statistics: One in four women will become a victim of domestic violence. One in three women will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime. Every two minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted.

“It is an epidemic,” Hargitay declares. “If somebody has a black eye or bruises, people think, Oh, it’s none of my business. Yes, it is your business, if you are keeping somebody alive. We’re all connected. Helping another woman is helping yourself, your mother, your sister, your children. It’s important that the shame be lifted so that people can heal and don’t let a life event define who they are.”

SVU helped create awareness about these issues, and her character struck a chord with female viewers. Her fan letters were unlike any others she’d ever gotten: Your show changed my life, they would say. I’ve never told anyone this, but I was raped, and I’ve been carrying this around.

Hargitay underwent training to become a rape-crisis counselor. But listening wasn’t enough; she wanted to shed light on these crimes and give survivors hope that they could rebuild their shattered lives. Though she knew nothing about starting a nonprofit, she nonetheless funded it herself. She and Hermann scheduled their honeymoon in Hawaii so Hargitay could attend Joyful Heart’s first healing retreat, which was held there.

In addition to working directly with survivors, Hargitay and Joyful Heart are helping to shape public policy. Last May, she testified before a House judiciary subcommittee in hearings about the unthinkable backlog of hundreds of thousands of rape kits (in which crime-scene DNA samples are matched against potential suspects) that are languishing, still untested, on shelves nationwide.

These are unsettling topics, but Hargitay does not shrink from talking about them. Her greatest satisfaction is seeing the difference her foundation makes with clients. “There was a woman who came on a retreat — tough, very guarded — and after the week was over, she was almost unrecognizable,” she recalls. “There was softness in her face. You see people get hope and spirit back. You see them change right in front of you.”

Making Peace with Midlife

At 46, Hargitay has noticed some changes in herself. “I’ve got no problems with my age. I rejoice in the knowledge I have accrued and savor the great moments, because I know how fast it goes,” she says. “Am I slowing down a bit? Yeah. When I work out, I’m like, Whoa, the machinery isn’t running like it used to.”

She is not nearly ready to stop. “August and Peter, my family, being a wife and mother, is my life, and that gives me the most joy. Joyful Heart is my mission and the thing that I feel the clearest about. But I’m not ready to quit acting yet.”

Hargitay’s highly publicized 2009 contract negotiations with NBC over returning to SVU were less about money and more about getting home earlier and having periodic three-day weekends to recuperate from the show, which is physically and emotionally draining. (The naturally athletic actress only recently came to the conclusion that she didn’t have to do her own stunts; that was after a bad landing led to a collapsed lung and three trips to the hospital.)

“Now I put my health and family first,” she explains. To that end, she swears by her Breville juicer and a daily concoction that sounds as tasty as drinking a lawn: kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, ginger, lemon, and a green apple. She keeps the fridge stocked with unsweetened vanilla almond milk and frozen fruit to make smoothies. She will not, however, forgo chocolate, especially the Fran’s Chocolates that were created to raise funds for Joyful Heart.

“Would I like to be the same size as when I got married?” says the former size 4 or 6, who is now a size 8. “Sure, but I had a child, and your body changes. Being thin is not more important than enjoying life.”

This isn’t a woman who has time to count calories. “My day is always scheduled to within an inch of its life,” she says. As overwhelming as it may feel, Hargitay practices acceptance. “I don’t focus on what I can’t control,” she says. “If I can’t control it, let’s move on. I think that we have all been swallowed up in ‘shoulda-woulda-coulda.’ You figure it out and you walk tall and go through it. Some days it’s chicken, and some days it’s feathers.”

And some days, she admits, all it takes for a mini-meltdown is toys covering the floor when people are coming over and she has to cook. “I am a perfectionist meshed with someone who gets anxious — and that is not a good combination,” she confesses. “If I have a lot to do, I can’t handle a messy house. But if the house is clean, I can sit down and figure it all out.”

Recently she discovered another tactic for handling superhectic times: “If you have a glass of nonalcoholic wine in a beautiful glass, take a minute, and regroup, you’re good to go.”

Hargitay also swears by the stress-busting powers of a long bath. “No one can get to me when I’m soaking in the tub,” she says, leading the way into her bathroom. It’s a beautiful, relaxing space, but what is that in the middle of the tub?

“That’s my bra drying out,” Hargitay says, like it’s no biggie. “Listen, I have a kid who sometimes thinks it’s a good idea for us to jump in the pool with all our clothes on. Who am I to disagree with that?”

Stay-Safe Wisdom

Mariska Hargitay cares deeply about personal safety — and so does GH. Here are smart tips from the National Crime Prevention Council ( to help you avoid becoming a victim.

To Prevent an Attack

  • If you’re alone, be sure to walk in busy, well-lit areas. If you know an area is sketchy, avoid it, period.
  • If a stranger stops to ask you a question, be sure to stand an arm’s length away as you respond. You’ll have a better chance of escaping if you’re attacked.
  • Avoid scrolling through your smartphone, talking on your cell, or playing with your iPod while walking. You’ll look distracted, which makes you an easier target.
  • If you’re walking at night, never wear headphones. During the day, if you must wear them, keep one earbud out and the volume low so that you can always hear what’s going on around you.
  • Avoid dark stairwells. And if you’re in the elevator alone, close the doors as soon as possible so you are less likely to get stuck inside with an attacker.
  • If you feel threatened when you’re in a bar or restaurant, don’t just sit there; tell the staff. Make it look like you’re talking about the menu. You can also send a text-message or call 911.

If You Are Attacked

  • Yell “FIRE!” rather than screaming or yelling “HELP!” It’s hard to interpret screams, and the word “fire” draws more attention than “help.”
  • Use whatever you can as a weapon: your purse, your keys, your nails. Carry a travel-size container of hairspray in your purse; you can use it to blur your attacker’s vision.
  • Kick your attacker in the groin, or scratch his eyes to help you escape.
  • If your attacker wants your purse, give it to him.
  • Take a mental photo of your attacker; note tattoos, height, weight, clothing.
  • Call 911 ASAP after the attack. Then, write down everything that happened — in your phone, or on paper. Another option: Text a report to law enforcement. Check with your local police and preprogram the number to text into your phone.

—Annie Daly

Plus, Mariska discusses the need to end the rape-kit backlog.

How Many Languages Does Mariska Hargitay Really Speak?

Mariska Hargitay is best known for her long role as fan favorite Detective Olivia Benson on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. In the show, Benson is a smart, capable, patient police officer who uses a combination of instinct and well-honed skills to get the job done right. She’s equally capable of connecting with a victim to convince them to open up about the crime and chasing down a criminal with speed and grace to save the day.

In real life, Hargitay channels a lot of her famous character’s persona. Fans feel like they get to know the actress through her portrayal of Benson. The real Hargitay is also caring, smart, and capable. One of the many impressive things about both fictional Benson and real-life Hargitay is their multilingualism, a skill that the detective joyfully gets to show off on screen.

Mariska Hargitay | Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Detective Benson speaks multiple languages on the show

On the show, Detective Benson can often be found speaking in multiple languages to victims and perpetrators alike. When a character does not know English, Benson is often able to communicate in languages like Spanish or Italian in order to get the information she needs to solve the case. Hargitay calls upon her actual language skills in these portrayals, and the ability adds a layer of depth and interest to her character.

Hargitay’s real-life talents may shape Benson’s role, but Benson’s story has shaped Hargitay, too. Portraying this talented and tough cop has had an impact on Hargitay’s interests and passions as well.

In an interview on The View, Hargitay chokes up as she reveals that fans of the show started writing her with letters about their own assaults, and she knew she had to do something to help them. She was inspired to start a charity foundation called Joyful Heart, which aims to help sexual assault victims to heal and recover.

Multilingualism runs in the family

Hargitay’s famous mother Jayne Mansfield was also incredibly intelligent and multilingual. Mansfield tragically died in a car accident with Hargitay was only three years old. Although Mansfield was best known for her time as a Playboy playmate, Hargitay wants the world to remember her mother fondly for her skills and talents beyond the spotlight.

“My mother was this amazing, beautiful, glamor­ous sex symbol — but people didn’t know that she played the violin and had a 160 IQ and had five kids and loved dogs,” Hargitay explained.

Mansfield has been referred to as Hollywood’s “smartest dumb blonde” to showcase how her actual talents and abilities were often masked by her public persona. The actress was also fluent in five languages: English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian.

Hargitay carries on in her mother’s footsteps when it comes to mastering languages. The SVU actor can speak Hungarian, French, Spanish, and Italian. She credits spending time in Hungary and Italy with her Hungarian father for her mastery of the languages.

Hargitay is also raising her children in a household rich in language diversity. Her husband and fellow actor Peter Hermann frequently speaks to the children in German to help support their language growth.

“I want them to be multilingual,” Hargitay explains. Growing up in a household full of different languages and expressions is sure to give her kids an excellent start to their own language skills.

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Laughter is the key to joy. Thank you @people for spreading the love, so joyfully celebrating my 18 years with my heart, my love #PeterHermann

A post shared by Mariska Hargitay (@therealmariskahargitay) on Jun 12, 2019 at 12:34pm PDT

With so much overlap between Hargitay’s real-life abilities and the portrayal of such a skilled character as Detective Benson on the screen, it can be difficult to say which one influences the other more.

As Hargitay gears up to play Benson in the 21st season of the show, it’s clear that life and art have merged to bring fans a smart character and a talented actress they have truly grown to love.

Some of the most popular actors and singers of the world have already tried speaking Hungarian – let us show you the result.

Selena Gomez knows two really important sentences. “I love you is ‘szeretlek’ and ‘csendet, felvétel lesz’ is shut up we are shooting” – she said in an interview.

One of the founding members of the iconic band KISS, Gene Simmons was born in a Hungarian Jewish family. His father Ferenc Witz and his mother, Flóra Kovács taught him to speak Hungarian. This video is a proof for this: Gene speaks Hungarian in the first seconds of it and from 3:16.

He even sings in Hungarian with his mother, for example in this video.

Jennifer Garner learned a sentence as well. She says: ‘ez nem lesz probléma, beszélek magyarul’ which means ‘that won’t be a problem, I can speak Hungarian’. Then she adds that her grandparents taught her. We suppose that it is true only for her role. Anyway, her accent is really cute.

Robert Pattinson said ‘köszönöm, hogy csendben voltatok’ to his fans when he was leaving a shooting location in Budapest. His sentence means ‘thank you for being quiet’ and the fans really appreciated it, as you can hear in the following short video.

Anthony Hopkins spoke some words in Hungarian in The Rite.

Sylvester Stallone changes for Hungarian in his 1978 film F. I. S. T. by asking his partner if he speaks Hungarian (‘beszélsz magyarul?’), and the answer is: yes I do, better than English (‘jobban, mint angolul’). In the last seconds of the video, he also says ‘ahogy akarod’ which means ‘as you wish’.

Mariska Hargitay, the Golden Globe winning actress known for example from the series Tequila and Bonetti, Law & Order and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU) can introduce herself in Hungarian and speaks with the Hungarian reporter Tamás Frei by using some Hungarian words in their English dialogue. She must be a really nice lady!

Tony Curtis remembers a few words from his childhood.

And our favourite: Freddie Mercury sings a Hungarian folk song, Tavaszi szél vizet áraszt with the crowd at Queen’s concert in Budapest, 1986. You can read the English subtitle, but the feeling is more important… you will have goosebumps, as we did, for sure.

Famous Hungarians you didn’t know were Hungarian

Famous Hungarian actors include Tony Curtis a film actor most popular in the 50s and 60s; Rachel Weisz an Academy Award winning actress; and world-famous Hollywood star Drew Barrymore who has Hungarian heritage on her mother’s side. Actor Adrien Brody is also of Hungarian descent on his mother’s side, and interestingly he recently played Harry Houdini in a mini-series about the master illusionist. Houdini himself had Hungarian origins and was actually born in Budapest. Other Hungarian actors include Peter Falk best known for his role in the Columbo TV series; actor Mickey Hargitay who was born in Budapest and was also crowned Mr Universe in 1955; Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn; Béla Lugosi famous for his role as Count Dracula in the original 1931 film; and Mariska Hargitay most famous for her role as Detective Olivia Benson in Law and Order: SVU. The list just goes on and on but we can’t not mention Joaquin Phoenix who had some Hungarian ancestry on his mother’s side, and Jerry Seinfeld who had Hungarian heritage on his father’s side. We also can’t forget Zsa Zsa Gabor either who was crowned Miss Hungary in 1936 before moving to the US where she was an actress and socialite. She married 9 times (!!) including once to Conrad Hilton. We must also mention Johnny Weissmüller who was a champion swimmer in the 1920s who won 5 Olympic gold medals, but was also a famous actor playing the role of Tarzan in 12 different Tarzan films in the 30s and 40s.

As an actress, activist and advocate, Mariska Hargitay has dedicated her time, talent and resources to be an inspiration and force for change. Putting her passion for healing, education and community involvement to use, Mariska works to help not only survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse but other causes she is passionate about.

Through her role as ‘Detective Olivia Benson’ on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Mariska was awakened to the weight that survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse carry–the weight of shame, pain, fear, darkness, judgment and isolation–and inspired by their courage.

Mariska won the 2006 Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Drama for her role as ‘Olivia Benson,’ the ambitious and emotionally driven detective on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The role earned her an additional seven Emmy nominations, a 2004 Golden Globe Award, five SAG Award nominations and a Gracie Allen Award for American Women in Radio and Television. Mariska has also been honored with The Good Sister Award for Advocacy at the Children’s Advocacy Center of Manhattan’s “100 Women Against Child Abuse” Gala Benefit in 2005, the Empowerment Award at Peace Over Violence 38th Annual Humanitarian Awards, the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault Special Ally Award and a 2012 Muse Award from New York Women in Film and Television.

In 2004, Mariska took her commitment to a higher and more personal level by founding the Joyful Heart Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.

Mariska has been a part of multiple education and awareness campaigns around these issues for Joyful Heart and other organizations. She has made public service announcements to end the rape kit backlog in the United States, pass critical legislation to bring healing and justice to survivors, prevent child abuse and neglect and engage men to end violence and abuse. She has also filmed PSAs with NBC’s “The More You Know” campaigns and Got Milk and has lent her time and voice to other victim assistance organizations in hopes of raising awareness and much needed financial support for their programs. Her dedication to providing assistance to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse survivors speaks to her depth of character and generosity of spirit. Committed to ending violence and abuse and caring for those who have survived it, Mariska spends as much time off screen dealing with these crimes as she does while busting perps through her role as ‘Detective Olivia Benson.’

Mariska is married to her husband, actor, writer and advocate Peter Hermann. Peter is a graduate of Yale University and was a charter member of the Teach For America Teaching Corps. The couple also have three children: August, Amaya and Andrew.