Mariska Hargitay has three brothers, Mickey Hargitay Jr., Zoltan Hargitay and Tony Cimber, and two sisters, Jayne Marie Mansfield and Tina West
Mariska Hargitay comes from a large family with deep roots in Hollywood.
The Law and Order: SVU actress, who has played Olivia Benson for a record-setting 25 seasons, is the child of two entertainment icons: Mickey Hargitay, a former Mr. Universe, and the legendary Hollywood screen siren Jayne Mansfield. The famous couple, who met in a New York City nightclub, married in 1958 and appeared in several movies together in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including The Loves of Hercules, Promises! Promises! and Primitive Love.
During their six-year marriage, Hargitay and Mansfield had three children together: son Mickey Jr. in December 1958, son Zoltan in August 1960 and daughter Mariska in January 1964. However, by the time Mariska was born, Hargitay and Mansfield’s relationship had turned rocky, and they divorced eight months later.
Both Hargitay and Mansfield had children from previous relationships. Hargitay had a daughter, Tina, from his marriage to Mary Birge, while Mansfield had a daughter, Jayne Marie Mansfield, from her marriage to Paul Mansfield. Following her split from Hargitay, Mansfield went on to welcome son Tony Cimber with her third husband, film director Matt Cimber.
Growing up in Hollywood wasn’t all glitz and glamour for Mariska and her siblings, however. Tragedy struck the family in 1967 when Mansfield was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 34. Mariska was only 3 years old then, and went on to be raised by her father and stepmother, Ellen. Despite the devastating loss, Mariska credits her upbringing with giving her strength and love,
“The beauty is that families are made in so many different ways, and that was my reality as a child,” she told PEOPLE in 2018. “Growing up, my family was made in such an interesting and unique way, and now I have that with my own family, and so I understand it. It’s been amazing.”
From their childhoods to their relationships as adults, here’s everything to know about Mariska Hargitay and her five siblings.
Their mother, Jayne Mansfield, was killed in a car crash in 1967
On June 29, 1967, Mansfield was killed in Biloxi, Mississippi, when the car she was traveling in crashed into the rear of a tractor-trailer truck, according to The New York Times. The two other adults sitting in the front seat (Sam Brody, her attorney, and Ronnie Harrison, their driver) were also killed in the wreck, but Mickey Jr., Zoltan and Mariska — who were sleeping in the backseat — all survived with minor injuries.
Mariska, who was only 3 years old at the time of the accident, has occasionally spoken about how the tragic loss — which she called “the scar of her soul” in 2009 — affected her childhood.
She continued, “I clearly was in that frozen place for a lot of my childhood — of trying to survive, actually trying to survive. My life has been a process of unpeeling the layers and trust and trusting again."
Mansfield’s death has also had a profound impact on who Mariska became as an adult. The Law and Order: SVU star, who referred to surviving trauma early in life as her “superpower” to Glamour, revealed to PEOPLE in 2018 how the death of her mother has shaped her outlook on life.
“The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it,” Mariska shared. “As the saying goes, the only way out is through. In my life, certainly I’ve tried to avoid pain, loss, feeling things. But I’ve learned instead to really lean into it, because sooner or later you have to pay the piper.”
She continued, “I’m not saying it’s easy, and it certainly hasn’t been for me. There’s been a lot of darkness. But on the other side things can be so bright.”
Mariska, Mickey Jr. and Zoltan were raised by their father and stepmother in Los Angeles
Following the death of their mother, Mariska and her two older brothers, Mickey Jr. and Zoltan, were raised by their father, Hargitay, and his third wife, Ellen, in Los Angeles. Mariska has praised her stepmother for how she immediately stepped into the role of “mom” for the SVU star and her siblings in the wake of Mansfield’s 1967 accident.
“I called her Mom. She really claimed us. She never had biological kids of her own, and to this day we are her kids,” Mariska told Good Housekeeping in 2012.
“We were blessed that she really embraced us and loved us so quickly,” she continued. “And I was very fortunate to have a maternal figure in my life after such a horrific accident.”
Mariska and her brothers had an equally strong role model in their father, Hargitay (who died in 2006 after a long illness).
“My dad taught me to listen and to learn,” she told PEOPLE in 2018 about her late father. “As a young kid, I had my antennas out for who had wisdom and why, and what was I supposed to learn from them, and why were they there? The way I’ve been able to make sense of the cards I was dealt was to follow those signs.”
Jayne Marie was the first daughter of a Playmate to be featured in Playboy
Jayne Marie, Mansfield’s daughter from her first marriage to Paul Mansfield, followed in her mother’s footsteps when she was a featured model for Playboy magazine in July 1976. Mansfield had been the Playboy Playmate of the Month in February 1955 — making the pair the first mother-daughter duo to appear in the magazine.
However, after her appearance in Playboy and a brief acting career, Jayne Marie had an apparent change of heart and gave up her career in the public eye. As of 2008, she was living in L.A. and working as a money manager, Mariska revealed in an “Ask Stacy" column at the time.
Mickey Jr. runs a Hollywood plant shop
Though both of his parents had careers in show business, Mickey Jr. took his talents in a different direction: Mariska’s oldest brother has run a Hollywood plant shop, Mickey Hargitay Plants, since 1980.
“[My family] made decisions to reach for the stars and I’ve wanted to keep my feet on the ground,” Mickey Jr. told the Los Angeles Times in 2016. “I’ve wanted to do something that seems more grounded and is more real."
Mickey Jr.’s shop, which sells indoor and outdoor plants, gardening materials and landscaping services, counts several famous actors among its clientele — including George Clooney and Jim Carrey, according to the Los Angeles Times. Mickey Jr., who grew up watering his family’s plants, is well-known throughout L.A. for his extensive knowledge about plants and their care.
Mariska praised her older brother’s green thumb in an Instagram post from December 2023.
“I love this guy so much. Best big brother. Soulful. Protective. Nurturing. Funny. Fun. Kind. Wise. Gentle. Hard Working. Fair,” she wrote alongside a photo of the two of them. “To watch somebody nurture plants is a thing of beauty.”
Zoltan works as a carpenter on Hollywood sets
Like his parents and sister, Zoltan works in the entertainment industry — but not in front of the camera. Instead, Zoltan works behind the scenes as a carpenter constructing sets for Hollywood films and television series.
He is credited with working as a carpenter on several films in the 1990s, including 1994’s Shrunken Heads, Reflections on a Crime and T-Force. Most recently, he worked on the Apple TV+ series The Morning Show.
Zoltan seemingly gets his carpentry skills from his late father, who first worked as a plumber and a carpenter when he immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 1947, according to The Independent.
Mariska reunited with three of her siblings at her 2013 Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony
When Mariska was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in November 2013, three of her siblings supported her on her big day: brothers Mickey Jr. and Zoltan and her half-sister Jayne Marie. In her speech, Mariska paid a touching tribute to her family for being by her side at the momentous occasion.
“My amazing family is here today. My mom, Ellen, and my sister — happy birthday Jayne Marie!” the Law and Order: SVU star said at the ceremony, which was held on her sister’s 63rd birthday. “My big brother Mickey and my big brother Zoli and, of course, my dad, who I know is watching us right now.”
Mariska also mentioned how her mother, Jayne, had received her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1960. The mother and daughter’s stars are directly next to each other.
“It’s so incredible because my brother Mickey and my sister Jayne Marie were actually here, right here, when my mother got her star, so I can’t imagine what they’re feeling,” she shared. “Probably enough with the stars already.”
“I love you family, all of you,” Mariska added.
Mariska frequently shouts out her brothers on social media
From National Sibling Day to their birthdays, Mariska will occasionally post about her older brothers Mickey Jr. and Zoltan on social media.
“Happy Birthday to my kind, loving and open and huge hearted brother … I love you,” Mariska wrote in her caption.
Mariska wrote similar kind words on social media about her oldest brother Mickey Jr. when he turned 65 in December 2023. Along with a throwback photo of their family from the 1960s, Mariska sent happy birthday wishes to her brother, who she described as “kind and gentle and generous and wise” in her Instagram caption.
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