Mariska Hargitay Opens Up About Losing Mom Jayne Mansfield 50 Years Ago In Tragic Car Crash

by Caralynn Lippo
Caralynn is a writer, native New Yorker, TV enthusiast, and dog mom to Hobbes.

It’s been over half a century since Jayne Mansfield’s untimely and terrible car crash. For the children she left behind, the pain is still acute.

The actress and entertainer was a notorious Hollywood icon in the 1950s and 1960s, known for her blonde bombshell good looks. Much like fellow bombshell Marilyn Monroe, Jayne died unexpectedly and far too young.

But now, Jayne’s actress daughter Mariska Hargitay is speaking out about what it was like to grow up without her mother.

Scroll through below to find out what Mariska has to say about her mother’s tragic death.

Thumbnail Photo: Instagram / Mariska Hargitay (Image 1 / Image 2)

Mariska Hargitay

Mariska was born on January 23, 1964 in Santa Monica, California. The beautiful 53-year-old has been active in the acting world since the 1980s, making her film debut in the 1985 film Ghoulies.

Of course, most fans recognize Mariska from her longtime role in the drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

The actress has been starring as Detective Olivia Benson (later Sergeant, then Lieutenant) on the show since its very first season premiered in 1999.

After her costar Christopher Meloni (who played Olivia’s partner, Elliot Stabler) departed after the show’s 12th season, Mariska became the actor with the longest tenure on the show.

While Mariska is a very familiar face to crime procedural fans, many don’t realize that she comes from a famous Hollywood family.

Jayne Mansfield

Mariska’s mother, Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer), starred in films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including The Girl Can’t Help It and The Wayward Bus.

The classic Hollywood actress was also known as a sex symbol akin to Marilyn Monroe, with a notoriously shapely figure that she wasn’t shy about showing off.

Jayne Mansfield

At the time she died, Jayne had five children, including Mariska and actress Jayne Marie Mansfield.

Jayne was married three times. Her first marriage to Paul Mansfield gave Jayne the stage name she’d become known by, and her first daughter Jayne Marie.

Jayne’s second marriage was to American-Hungarian actor Miklós Hargitay.

Mariska Hargitay

Jayne and Miklós’ marriage produced three children: Mariska and her two older brothers, Zoltan and Mickey Jr.

Jayne Mansfield

In a recent interview with Closer Weekly, Mariska opened up about the accident that took her mother’s life.

Mariska, then only 3, was in the backseat of the car (along with her two brothers) when it crashed. She still retains a scar on her head from the accident.

The three children survived, but Jayne, her lawyer/boyfriend Samuel S. Brody, and driver Ronald B. Harrison were all thrown from the car when it crashed. All three adults died.

Jayne Mansfield

Jayne was only 34 when she died, so Mariska sadly never got to know her mother firsthand — and growing up in her famous parent’s shadow wasn’t exactly easy.

“In some ways, being the daughter of a Hollywood icon has been a burden,” Mariska said. “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.”

Jayne Mansfield

Though losing her mother was undeniably tragic, Mariska now feels that it was an important formative event in her life: “I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I did to be here.”

Though Mariska didn’t get to grow up with Jayne, the two share notable similarities.

Jayne Mansfield

Mariska told Closer Weekly that she’s been told she shares her “distinguishable laugh” with her late mom.

The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit actress has shared many throwback photos of herself and her mom, pointing to the similarities between the two of them.

Jayne Mansfield

Though Mariska and her mom share an acting bond, Mariska says it was becoming a mom that helped her relate to Jayne more and gave her a measure of peace.

Mariska married actor Peter Hermann in 2004. They have three children: August, Amaya, and Andrew.

“Being a wife and mother is my life, and that gives me the most joy,” she said. “I understand [Jayne] 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.”