Mariska Hargitay, best known for her role on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” carries a tragic past. When she was only three years old, her mother, Jayne Mansfield died in a car accident.
The 1967 car accident killed Mansfield, her driver Ronnie Harrison, and her lawyer Sam Brody. Hargitay’s mother, a Hollywood actress and blonde bombshell often compared to Marilyn Monroe, died instantly. Three-year-old Hargitay was asleep in the back of the car when the accident happened, and she was left with a scar on her forehead. The 34-year-old actress left behind Hargitay and four other children.
“In some ways, being the daughter of a Hollywood icon has been a burden,” Hargitay, now 53, told Closer Weekly. “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.”
Hargitay has found her own success in Hollywood, and because she doesn’t share her mom’s trademark blonde hair, she hasn’t had to deal with many comparisons. But that doesn’t mean she doesn’t share anything with the mother who was taken from her too soon.
Her half-brother Tony Climber told Closer that Mariska shares her mom’s sense of humor. She also shares her mom’s distinct laugh.
“Mariska was a goofball — a fun, silly, sweet girl… She was always very positive and laughing. She’s got the funniest laugh you’ve ever heard, and she’s had it for her entire life.”
While she’s grateful that she’s been able to have her own career independent of her mom, Hargitay says she’s thankful they’ve been able to share something else: motherhood.
Hargitay, who has two children, says motherhood—not her fame—is what has made her happiest.
“Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy,” she said. “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.”