Mariska stars as "Detective Olivia Benson" on NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit". At 2004 Emmy's and SAG, Mariska was nominated for lead actress in a drama 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. Now in her sixth season as Detective Benson, Hargitay says, “As a woman, it’s gratifying to play a part that’s a multi-layered challenge. Olivia is not only a competent, street-smart cop, she’s an empathetic woman who can respond emotionally to victims of terrible crimes without compromising her professionalism.” Hargitay gained recognition from her recurring role on “ER” as Dr. Greene’s (Anthony Edwards) sometimes naïve and scattered girlfriend, desk clerk Cynthia Hooper, in the 1997-98 season of the popular drama. Hargitay also earned notice as a cast regular in the sitcom “Can’t Hurry Love” starring Nancy McKeon. She was also a regular on the popular series “Falcon Crest” and “Prince Street.” Hargitay starred opposite Ken Olin in the television movie “The Advocate’s Devil” and opposite Valerie Bertinelli and Harry Hamlin in the miniseries thriller “Night Sins.” Her additional television credits include guest-starring roles on “Seinfeld,” “Ellen,” “thirtysomething,” “Wiseguy” and “In the Heat of the Night.” Hargitay’s feature film credits include “Lake Placid” (starring Bill Pullman and Bridget Fonda), the critically acclaimed “Leaving Las Vegas,” David Lynch’s “Hotel Room” and Bob Fosse’s “Star ‘80.” On the Los Angeles stage, she has co-starred in “Salad Days,” “Women’s Work” and “Porno.”
Mariska (Ma-rish-ka) Magdolina Hargitay was born on January 23, 1964 in Los Angeles, 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.
Mariska majored in theater at UCLA but dropped out before graduating. Her first motion picture feature was the cult favorite, Ghoulies (1985), where she has a memorable performace as Donna. She also appeared in "Leaving Las Vegas" (1995) credited as 'hooker at the bar', and in "Lake Placid" (1999) as Myra Okubo. Her latest movie "Plain Truth" in which she plays attorney Ellie Harrison will air in the fall of 2004.
In 1999 she was cast in the role of Detective Olivia Benson in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit - the first spin-off from the excellent franchise of Law & Order (which also has 2 other spin-offs, Criminal Intent and Trial By Jury). This show deals with sex crimes and the detectives who solve these cases.
Mariska speaks English, Hungarian, French and Italian. She married actor Peter Hermann on August 28, 2004. They divide their time between New York and Los Angeles.
Mariska Hargitay wins overdue Golden Globe for 'Law and Order: SVU'
When Allison Janney snagged her fourth Emmy for her performance on “West Wing” in September, she made the altruistic/condescending call to her fellow nominees to join her on stage; apparently hoping to extend some second-hand glory-basking to some notably worthy actresses. Only one nominee bashfully accepted the call: Mariska Hargitay, the oft-overlooked co-star of “Law and Order: SVU.” Snatch. As was much noted the following morning; both ladies were wearing green—double snatch.
Last night at the Golden Globes, Hargitay won a private invitation on-stage to receive her award as Best Actress in a Televison Series (Drama). Hargitay was stunning as she cried and emitted thank-yous in that classic leading-ladies-are-human-too form perfected by front-page movie stars like Halle Berry and Gweneth Paltrow. For the millions of viewers that tune in to SVU every week (or every hour, if you manage to get the TNT-NBC-CourtTV scheduling grid under control), the win—the first for any lead/supporting actor on any of the “Law and Order” programs—was simply deserved
Why? Because Olivia Benson kicks ass.
It’s not surprising that actors from the L&O franchise are often neglected when awards season comes around. The program’s plot-emphasized formula enables viewers to tune in to the show’s weekly installments and syndicated episodes at random. The lack of episode-to-episode character-driven storylines have helped hoist the program to the top of the Nielsen charts for the almost 15 years it has been on the air.
SVU writers, however, have taken more liberties with character development and Hargitay, daughter of screen legend Jayne Mansfield, has constructed a complicated personality for Detective Olivia Benson. The sexually-based crimes investigated on SVU have a ruthless human underbelly, and it’s one that insistently penetrates even the most two-dimensional TV-detective cutouts. SVU often brings the crime home; previous storylines have woven in subplots like Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni)’s problems with disciplining his daughter and the death of Benson’s mother.
In a particularly memorable episode, Benson sums up the emotional conflict of an SVU detective: “You kill yourself to make something happen. Or you do nothing and it doesn’t matter. There’s always another child molester. There’s always another rapist. And it’s like you have to sell a little piece of yourself to get the job done. So what the hell’s the point?” Elliot Stabler, her partner, a father and husband, responds: “I don’t know. Maybe there isn’t a point. Maybe the cost is too high. Olivia, no one’s making you do this. The difference between you and all the victims is you can walk away.” She responds; “No, I can’t.”
Benson doesn’t date very much and she’s not married—two characteristics which separate her from most female television ingénues. She admits to Stabler that men are no longer interested when they find out what she does, and that looking at sex crimes all day makes it hard to have any sex drive whatsoever. Like her co-worker, John Munch (Richard Belzer), she has almost given up all hope of a personal life outside of SVU, but she rarely expresses regret. It’s an interesting gender reversal—the man (Elliot) has the family, the woman is the lifetime “bachelor”--and Benson also steers clear of the “feminazi” stereotype often applied to strong female characters (making “working women” both a threat to the instruction of family and the inherent femininity or heterosexuality of the woman herself, as if hard work and womanhood are mutually exclusive)—she is real and tough, likeable and human, and consistently heroic. Benson, Munch, Stabler and Fin Tutuola (Ice-T) form a “team” of truly dedicated detectives, a drama-ripe powerhouse of people wholly willing to sacrifice a life in pursuit of justice.
It’s a distinctly American ethos, and it’s wholly deserving of it’s ratings, it’s fanfare, and now—it’s Golden Globe. Her fellow nominees, who Hargitay gracefully allowed to remain in their seats, are also worthy recipients of the prize. But it’s nice, after all, in a category where three of the nominated actresses (Christine Lahti, Edie Falco and Joely Richardson) play characters who exist most notably in their relationship to lead actors (Lahti is the mother of aspiring presidents Jack and Bobby, Falco plays the wife of mob leader Tony Soprano, and Richardson is the wife of plastic surgeon Sean MacNamara) to have a winner who stands on her own two feet and still looks stunning in her beautiful, one-of-a kind, Vera Wang pink gown.
Mariska Hargitay: Highly Evolved Actress
The thing I love about evolution is how what once was, however small to some, can change into something quite meaningful and significant with patience, perseverance and effort. Those who have a hard time acknowledging evolution are in a form of denial most likely because they wish to control outcomes to their liking. For instance, take those who once thought Mariska Hargitay, who plays Detective Olivia Benson on Law and Order SVU, wouldn't survive but one season on the show.
I've been doing a little research on Mariska since she caught my interest on her program Law and Order SVU. I'm a little behind the times program wise as I only recently obtained digital cable television. I've been able to view this program every night as it exists today, and compare its evolution with its rerun shows they show on another cable channel from 1999. In doing this, I noted an obvious transformation of the actress, Mariska Hargitay, taking place that no one ever thought would have happened (source: previous forum entries from 1999 still on the Internet today) Previous programs that showed Mariska's character as mundane with non-star qualities seemed to be a completely different actress then the one who exists today on the program.
What I noted in this transformation into an intelligent star quality actress was how Mariska, who once had stronger feminine qualities that were less effective for her role, integrated masculine energy into her acting role. Mariska seemed to have struck a greater balance between her masculine/feminine, ying/yang sides of her being. This transformation is stunning in how Mariska has become so mesmerizing to so many viewers, that she has been nominated for awards, the most recent being the Screen Actors Guild nomination for best dramatic actress. However, this is just one element of Mariska's transformation.
Mariska has also done a great deal to integrate the actual work of crime solving detectives into her character, by spending many hours on the field with detectives who solve sexually based crimes. This, coupled with her continual contributions to charity events involving her character's line of work, has helped to integrate Mariska's character Olivia, into her persona as well. Unlike many actresses who are less dedicated to a particular role whose sole purpose is to use as a stepping stone to the next one, Mariska's dedication to her character and commitment to a higher degree of moral ethical standards embodied in that role, have helped the actress transform as well.
When what was once a mundane actress turns into notable star through such transformation, I think it is worth noting. Mariska Hargitay has risen to become a role model for many women who rely on her strength to help them evolve in their lives as well. Few television actresses of this day and age are able to accomplish this feat. Mariska Hargitay is clearly someone special who rose to the occasion to meet the challenge to evolve.
Mariska Hargitay is a great actress
Mariska has all the virtues of a great actress and a great person. Talent, personality, a sense of humor, and lots of grounding. Personal ego is non-existent in her case.
Mariska Hargitay is the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, and stars as Detective Olivia Benson on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Mariska Hargitay has been acting since she was a teenager, but unlike today's young starlets like Sarah Michelle Gellar and Katie Holmes, her success came much later in life. Long considered a great actress who never got her shot at the big leagues, Mariska is currently riding high as Olivia Benson on the acclaimed NBC crime drama, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Her role in the Law & Order spin-off has received numerous critical accolades, including nominations from the Viewers for Quality Television as Best Actress, the TV Guide Awards as Favorite Actress in a New Series, and an Emmy nod as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. In 2005, she was finally rewarded with the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Drama.
Her character was a 180-degree turn from her previous role on ER, where she played Anthony Edwards' naïve girlfriend. To differentiate her characters, Mariska underwent an image change that included a lamentable but necessary trim of her hair.
But even without becoming an actress, Mariska already had a claim to fame. She is, after all, the daughter of legendary '50s sex symbol Jayne Mansfield. In fact, she was 3 years old and in the backseat of the car when her mom hit an oncoming truck and tragically passed away.
Mariska's decision to distance herself from her mom's image at a young age (though she remains fiercely proud of mommy and even mentioned her in her Golden Globe acceptance speech in 2005) was a very smart career move. She avoided falling into the B-movie stereotype trap. Instead she has cemented her status as a dramatic actress, though she claims her true calling is comedy.
Mariska is, in fact, a very intelligent woman who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from UCLA, and speaks Hungarian, French and Italian (as well as English, but you already knew that, didn't you. Didn't you?). If you are wondering about the Hungarian part, it came as a result of her father, Mickey Hartigay, a bodybuilder and one-time Mr. Universe (as well as the main focus of a movie by the same name). She was once the token babe in movies and TV roles, but has actually upgraded her sexiness factor by portraying confident and assertive characters.
Mariska's acting career has lasted over 20 years, an incredible feat in a very tough business where odds of getting struck by lightning are better than someone reaching stardom.
Mariska Hargitay helps National Hemophilia Foundation
Mariska Hargitay, who was nominated for an Emmy this year for her portrayal of the tough, street-smart Detective Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and is the youngest daughter of the legendary Jayne Mansfield, has donated a pair of her very own jeans to the National Hemophilia Foundation. She was awarded the Gracie Award for her portrayal of Detective Benson. She is a peerless advocate among celebrities for her work on behalf of children around the world.
Law & Order's Hargitay Ties the Knot
As no-nonsense NYPD Det. Olivia Benson on NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, actress Mariska Hargitay rarely gets to crack a smile. But on Aug. 28 Hargitay was all grins at her Santa Barbara, Calif., wedding to actor (and SVU guest star) Peter Hermann, PEOPLE reports in its latest issue.
Hargitay donned a blush-colored Carolina Herrera gown and sported fresh gardenias in her hair, and the church nuptials "were enchanting," says wedding planner Yifat Oren. "It was really magical."
After the ceremony, which featured a gospel choir singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," the bride, 40, and groom, 37, joined their 200 guests (including 10 nieces and nephews in the wedding party) for a reception at a Montecito estate. A 6-ft.-tall wedding cake topped with a crystal "M&P" provided a sweet finish for the couple.
"They're mad about each other," says Oren. "And they're hilariously funny together."
Meantime, Hargitay may have something else to celebrate come Sept. 19: She's nominated for her first Emmy Award, for outstanding lead actress in a drama for SVU.
Mariska Hargitay: The sizzlin' sixteen '98
When it comes to Hollywood pedigrees, it's hard to top Mariska Hargitay. As the daughter of blonde bombshell Jayne Mansfield and former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay, Mariska should be a natural for the most glamorous roles in town, right?
Well, that's not exactly how she sees it. In fact, the 34-year-old brunette--no platinum dye jobs here--has taken great pains to accentuate the awkward, life-in-crisis elements of her bumbling ER counterpart, Cynthia Cooper.
The character has made a big splash in her first season on the top-ranked series, managing to sweep Dr. Mark Greene (Anthony Edwards) off his usually well-grounded feet while adding another dimension to the ensemble drama.
Hargitay, who's blessed with a Sandra Bullock-style likability, began landing big- and small-screen roles while still a UCLA undergrad. She appeared in Leaving Las Vegas and starred last year in CBS' short-lived Can't Hurry Love.
But 1998 looks like the year Hargitay steps up to the next level. DreamWorks has already signed Hargitay to a development deal and plans to feature her in a new network vehicle this fall. And if big fame does come calling? It's safe to say Hargitay's got the genes to handle it.
Mariska Hargitay Replaces Zsa Zsa Gabor As `Most Famous Hungarian-American'
"Law & Order: SVU" star Mariska Hargitay received her first Emmy nomination this year and now she's dealing with an even higher honor -- becoming the best-known Hungarian-American.
Hargitay's fame has given her a higher profile than fellow Hungarian-American Zsa Zsa Gabor and it's a cultural badge she wears with honor.
But while Hargitay has spent many summers in the Eastern European country, she admits she's not as fluent in Hungarian as she would like to be.
Sadly, Hargitay's schedule has kept her from visiting her homeland for the last 10 years. When she isn't filming, she's often in Hawaii helping sexual abuse victims by letting them swim with dolphins.
She plans to visit Hungary next summer and even though the country is land-locked, she jokes, "I'll bring my dolphins there with me."