|Date of birth|
January 23, 1964
|Place of birth|
Santa Monica, CA
Hargitay was born at St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, the daughter of actress and 1950s-era sex symbol Jayne Mansfield. Her father was the Hungarian-born former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay.
In 1982, after Hargitay was crowned Miss Beverly Hills USA, she then competed in the Miss California USA pageant the following year, placing fourth runner-up to Julie Hayek, who was later crowned Miss USA. In 1984, she appeared in Ronnie Milsap's music video for "She Loves My Car". A year later she had a small role in the horror film, Ghoulies.
Hargitay said in 1986 that she never thought about doing television until a role for the one-hour adventure drama series Downtown was offered. In 1988, she had a recurring role as Carly Fixx in the soap opera Falcon Crest. She portrayed police officer Angela Garcia in the 1992 series Tequila and Bonetti, and appeared in an episode of the fourth season of Seinfeld. Two years later, Hargitay portrayed Didi Edelstein, the sexy next-door neighbor, in the 1995 sitcom Can't Hurry Love, which starred Nancy McKeon. In 1997, Hargitay played detective Nina Echeverria on the drama series Prince Street, and had a recurring role as Cynthia Hooper during the fourth season of ER. Hargitay has appeared on numerous other television programs, including: Freddy's Nightmares; Ellen; All-American Girl; Baywatch; Gabriel's Fire and thirtysomething. Her voice is featured on the 2005 video game True Crime: New York City.
Hargitay also had a minor role in the 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas. In January 2007 she and her son, August, appeared in a Got Milk? advertisement.
Casting for the lead characters of NBC police procedural television drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit occurred in the spring of 1999. Dick Wolf, along with officials from NBC and Studios USA, were at the final auditions for the two leads at Rockefeller Center. The last round had been narrowed down to six finalists. For the female lead – Detective Olivia Benson – Samantha Mathis, Reiko Aylesworth, and Hargitay were being considered. The duo, who Wolf believed had the perfect chemistry from the first time he saw them together, were his first choice. Garth Ancier, then head of NBC Entertainment, agreed, and the rest of the panel assembled voiced their assent. Hargitay trained as a rape crisis advocate to prepare for the role of Benson, who she has played since 1999 and still on going in 2017 18 seasons later.
Notes and Trivia
- Is the daughter of late actress Jayne Mansfield and late actor/bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay.
- Has two brothers: Miklós and Zoltán Hargitay, two half sisters: Jayne Marie Mansfield and Tina Hargitay, and a half-brother, Antonio Ottaviano (now known as Tony Cimber)
- Was in the car which crashed in New Orleans and killed her mother, Jayne Mansfield; has a zig-zag scar on one side of her head.
- Attended Marymount High School and the UCLA School of Theater Film and Television
- Was crowned Miss Beverly Hills USA in 1982.
- Speaks English, Hungarian, French, Spanish, and Italian
- Married Peter Hermann (who plays defense attorney Trevor Langan on SVU) on August 28, 2004. Has a son August Miklos Friedrich Hermann (born on June 26, 2006). Adopted daughter Amaya Josephine in April of 2011. Adopted a baby boy named Andrew Nicolas Hargitay Herman in mid-2011.
- Is the founder/president of the Joyful Heart Association which provides support to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.
- An honorary board member director of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Her father, Mickey Hargitay, who once portrayed an old man on the show, passed away from the disease in September of 2006.
Source: Law & Order:SVU Wikia