Mariska Hargitay began her acting career by appearing on the television
series Falcon Crest in 1987. She played a police officer in the short-lived 1992
series Tequila & Bonetti. She appeared during the fourth season of Seinfeld as
one of the actors auditioning for Jerry.
Hargitay had a recurring role during the fourth season of ER, part of a story arc that lasted over a dozen episodes.
In 2005 she lent her voice to the video game True Crime: New York City.
In the freshman season of SVU (for Special Victims Unit, the subtitle of the series), in 1999-2000, Mariska 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. She was also a 2004 Screen Actors Guild nominee. In addition, she is also a 2005 Screen Actors Guild nominee.
Hargitay won a Golden Globe in 2005 in the category of Best Actress in a Drama Series.
In 2004, 2005, and 2006 Mariska Hargitay's portrayal of Detective Benson on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit garnered her Emmy nominations in the category of Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series.
Hargitay was named by People magazine in 2005 as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People, and in 2006 as one of People Magazine's World's Most Beautiful People.
Mariska Hargitay is the fourth of Jayne Mansfield's five children. Mansfield had divorced Hungarian-born former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay (and would again in 1964), yet they were living together when Mariska was born. Italian-American cabaret performer Nelson Sardelli was dating Mansfield at the time of Mariska's conception, and he claims to be her biological father. Mariska has never acknowledged Sardelli's claim (even though she bears a striking physical resemblance to him), always considering Mickey Hargitay her father.
On the night of June 29, 1967, Mariska Hargitay and two of her brothers were asleep in the back seat of the car their mother and her boyfriend, lawyer Sam Brody, were riding in when it smashed into the back of a tractor-trailer. Hargitay's mother was killed instantly, as was Brody and their driver. Had the children not been lying down, they, too, would have been killed, but they escaped with only minor bruises. Hargitay, who has no memory of the accident, was left with a zig-zag scar down the side of her head.
She learned her father's native language, Hungarian, but also speaks fluent French and Italian.
Mariska Hargitay graduated in 1987 from the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television with a major in theatre. She is also an alumna of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.
In April 2004, Mariska Hargitay announced her engagement to Special Victims Unit actor Peter Hermann. They were married on August 28, 2004, in California.
On November 30, 2005, Hargitay's publicist announced that she and Hermann are expecting their first child, a son, in early June 2006. Mariska stayed on SVU through out her pregnacy. Speaking about her pregnancy, Hargitay said, "I'm LOVING every minute of it and am so excited to be a mom". During the last few months of her pregnancy, Mariska Hargitay took a maternity leave from SVU and was temporarily replaced by Connie Nielsen.
On Wednesday, June 28, 2006, Mariska Hargitay gave birth to her first child, a baby boy weighing 10 pounds and 9 ounces. Mariska was eight days overdue, and gave birth by c section. It was reported on People.com on Thursday, June 29, that the couple has named their son August.
Mariska Hargitay co-founded an organization called the Joyful Heart Foundation to help women who have been s--ually assaulted. This charity gives victims an opportunity to swim with wild dolphins in Hawaii as water therapy.
In addition to her own Joyful Heart Foundation, Mariska Hargitay has worked with the Mount Sinai S--ual Assault and Violence Intervention program, NBC's “The More You Know” campaign, the Safe Horizons advocacy project, Santa Monica Rape Crisis Treatment Center, Project ALS, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the James Redford Institute for Transplant Awareness. She is a certified rape crisis counselor.
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