Mariska Hargitay is an actress and philanthropist. She is best known for portraying Olivia Benson in the NBC police drama Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2019, it was announced that the show would be renewed for its 21st season, making it the longest running live-action primetime drama in history.
Hargitay's portrayal of Olivia Benson has earned her an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Gracie Allen Award from The Foundation of American Women in Radio and Television, just to name a few accolades.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Hargitay is the youngest daughter of screen legend Jayne Mansfield and bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay. The UCLA graduate speaks Hungarian, French and Italian. She started acting in the 1980s, making guest appearances in several television shows and playing minor characters in multiple films.
Hargitay is also known to NBC viewers for her recurring role on ER as Dr. Greene's girlfriend Cynthia Hooper in the 1997-98 season of the top-rated show. She gained notice as a cast regular in the sitcom Can't Hurry Love with Nancy McKeon and Louis Mandylor.
Additional television credits include guest roles on NBCs Seinfeld, Ellen and thirtysomething, and starring roles on Falcon Crest and Prince Street. Hargitay was also seen in the telefilms The Advocates Devil and Night Sins, as well as the Lifetime movie Plain Truth. Her film credits include the thriller Lake Placid, written by David E. Kelley and starring Bridget Fonda, the critically acclaimed Leaving Las Vegas and David Lynch's Hotel Room.
In 2004, Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation. The Foundation's mission is to transform society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, support survivors’ healing, and end this violence forever. Her dedication to providing assistance to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse survivors speaks to her depth of character and generosity of spirit. Committed to ending violence and abuse, and caring for those who have survived it, Mariska Hargitay spends as much time off screen dealing with these crimes as she does while busting perps through her role as Olivia Benson.
Hargitay has been a part of multiple education and awareness campaigns linked to issues related to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. She has made public service announcements to end the rape kit backlog in the United States, pass critical legislation to bring healing and justice to survivors, prevent child abuse and neglect and engage men to end violence and abuse. She has also filmed PSAs with NBC's "The More You Know" campaigns and Got Milk and has lent her time and voice to other victim assistance organizations in hopes of raising awareness and much needed financial support for their programs.
In 2017, Mariska testified on behalf of rape survivors and victims of sexual assault and abuse in front of Congress.
Hargitay is married to actor Peter Hermann, who starred in the Universal/Working Titles United 93, and who has a recurring role on SVU as attorney Trevor Langan. The couple have three children
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