Mariska Hargitay Opens Up About The Accident That Killed Her Mother Jayne Mansfield


Mariska Hargitay Opens Up About The Accident That Killed Her Mother Jayne Mansfield

You may recognize her as one of TVs most badass cops on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but did you know that Mariska Hargitay is the late Jayne Mansfield's daughter?    

TV Guide

The late Hollywood icon rose to fame in the 1950s after starring in movies like The Girl Can't Help It (1956) and Too Hot Too Handle(1960). Soon after her career took off, the starlet married her second husband, Miklos Hargitay, and the couple had three children, Zoltan, Mickey Jr. and Mariska.    

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By the end of the 50s, Mansfield was on her way to becoming the blonde bombshell of the 1960s too, but sadly, her life was cut short all too soon.

In 1967, Mansfield along with three of her children, her lawyer-turned-boyfriend Sam Brody and their 19-year-old driver, Ronnie Harrison, were travelling from Biloxi, Mississippi to New Orleans when their car got involved in a fatal collision. The impact ejected all three adults from the vehicle instantly killing them, but by some miracle, the sleeping children in the backseat including Mariska only suffered minor injuries.

Five decades after the horrible accident, a 53-year-old Mariska, opened up about the tragedy in an interview with Closer Weekly.

Closer Weekly

Mariska was much too young to recall much from that fateful day, but she has a scar on the side of her head that never lets her forget. The glaring similarities between her and her mother also serve as constant reminders. Not only do they share physical resemblances, Mariska also inherited Mansfield's intelligence. She reportedly has a high IQ of 163.

When Mariska first started in the acting business, she used to shy away from comparisons to Mansfield because she wanted to make a name for herself not built upon her legendary mom's fame.

"In some ways, being the daughter of a Hollywood icon has been a burden," Mariska told the magazine. "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."

Since finding her footing in Hollywood, she's gotten a bit more comfortable with being the spawn of an icon.

In 2008, while filming an episode of Law & Order: SVU, Mariska sustained a severe injury that caused some bleeding in her lung tissue. This resulted in a collapsed lung and required multiple surgeries to repair. This scary experience forced the Emmy-winning actress to go down memory lane and open up some old wounds.

Mariska doesn't remember much about the accident that claimed her mother's life, but the trauma has shaped her in more ways than she'd ever imagine. After carving a successful career for herself, Mariska began to truly understand how the early loss of her mother shaped her life.

"I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I did to be here," she explained in an earlier interview with Redbook. "Surviving and thriving in the wake of my mother's loss, I learned to believe in God. He has a plan, if you pay attention to the signs. I am inspired by the absolute proof of miracles."

It took a long time for Mariska to come to terms with Mansfield's death and it wasn't until she had kids of her own that she started to heal.

"Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy," Hargitay said proudly.


Mariska and her husband, Peter Hermann, have welcomed three children, August, Amaya and Andrew in the last 5 years and the experience of motherhood brought her closer to her mother.

"I understand [my mother] 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."

There's no doubt that Mansfield would've been so proud of her daughter.

Blair isn't a bestselling author, but she has a knack for beautiful prose. When she isn't writing for Shared, she enjoys listening to podcasts.