Mariska Hargitay is the woman behind one of the most empowering female characters on television — Detective Olivia Benson from NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a role she’s had for the past 18 years! Ever since she landed this life-changing role back in 1999, the Emmy award-winning actress has become one of the highest-paid and most beloved actresses on a television drama. In addition to being the star of the show, she’s also taken on the role of director and producer since 2014. In honor of her incredible success, here’s a look at 12 things you might not know about Law & Order‘s Mariska Hargitay!
Born on January 23, 1964, Hargitay is the daughter of two pop-culture icons. Her mother, Jayne Mansfield, was an actress and ’50s sex symbol, while her father, Miklos “Mickey” Hargitay, was a Hungarian born bodybuilder-actor who won the NABBA Mr. Universe crown in 1955. Her parents divorced around the time she was born and her father remarried three times, the last being Ellen Siano, who became Mariska’s stepmother and primary caregiver. She has two older brothers, Miklos and Zoltan, and three half-siblings, Jayne Marie Mansfield and Antonio Cimber, from her mother’s first three marriages, and Tina Hargitay from her father’s first marriage.