Mariska was born on January 23, 1964 as Mariska Magdolna Hargitay. She was born in Santa Monica, California. Her legendary parents, Jayne Mansfield and Mickey Hargitay brought Mariska up in the world of spot lights and cameras. She is their youngest daughter. Mariska doesn't recall much of her mother due to her early death in a tragic car accident when Mariska was only 3 years old. Though this car accident took the life of her mother, thankfully Mariska, who was in the back seat at the time, survived.
Mariska didn't always dream of being an actress. When she attended High School she was more involved in cheerleading, student government, and sports. She occasionally involved herself in theater. The more involved she became in theater the more she began to realize that she liked it. Eventually she enrolled in UCLA and became a drama student. She claimed notoriety in many different films, television shows and other theatrical performances. On August 28th,2004 Mariska married Peter Hermann. On June 28th, 2006, she and her husband welcomed their first child a son, named August Miklos Friedrich.
After briefly studying theater at UCLA, she landed her first motion picture role as Donna in The Ghoulies (1985). She also appeared in the films Leaving Las Vegas (1995)and in Lake Placid (1999) as Myra Okubo. A made-for-TV movie, Plain Truth (2004) (TV), in which she plays attorney Ellie Harrison, aired in the fall of 2004.
She landed the role of Det. Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 1999, when the "Law & Order" spin-off premiered.
Hargitay also speaks Hungarian, French, Spanish, and Italian. She started the Joyful Heart Foundation in 2004, an organization for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
In April 2011 Mariska and her husband Peter Hermann adopted a newborn baby girl they named Amaya Josephine.
In October 2011 Mariska & Peter adopted a newborn baby boy they named Andrew Nicolas Hargitay Hermann.