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Twelve Things You Didn’t Know About Law And Order SVU’s Star, Mariska Hargitay

The 53-year-old actress Mariska Hargitay is best known for her epic performance in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, for almost two decades, spanning over 19 seasons. She plays the lieutenant and commanding officer of the Manhattan special victims unit of the NYPD, Olivia Benson.

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The Santa Monica born actress and her family had narrow brushes with death more than once. Ironically enough, even though she has been a cop on TV, she has been in jail. The actress has also been working with Joe Biden in real life as well as her television persona. Scroll down to read more details about Mariska’s life story, courtesy of Ranker.

1. The actress witnessed the tragic crash that killed her mother
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Photo: Tom Simpson/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Hollywood star shining during the 50s and 60s, Jayne Mansfield was Mariska’s mother. She rivaled Marilyn Monroe’ popularity. She died on 29th June in 1967 in an accident. The car in which Mariska’s family was driving collided with a trailer truck.  The actress and her brothers were miraculously spared. This accident led to the requirement of underride bars on semi-trailers, also known as “Mansfield bars.”

2. The tragic death of her mother made her profoundly depressed years later

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Photo: Tom Simpson/flickr/CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

Mariska was really young when her mother died. Even though she has a scar from the accident, the actress doesn’t really remember it. At 22, she has suffered from depression for months.

3. After her mother’s death, her stepmother was almost killed

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Unviersal

After her mother’s death, Mickey Hargitay married Ellen Siano, a flight attendant. The actress explained on E! True Hollywood Story that she would almost lose her stepmother, six years after her mother’s death. In a turbulence during flying, Siano was thrown from the floor to the ceiling 56 times.

4. The Law and order star has been an advocate for sexual assault survivors

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Universal

Inspired by horrifying statistics about sexual assault she started an organization in 2004 in Hawaii called Joyful Heart. 18,000 survivors of sexual assault have asked for help from the organization in thirteen years. Also, it has raised over 200 million dollars to support survivors.

 5. Someone broke into her home and stole the possessions of her mother.

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Photo: classic film scans/flickr/CC-BY 2.0

In 1967 her mother was still a huge Hollywood persona. At some point after her death, according to Mariska, people broke into her house and stole her jewelry and other things that belonged to her. The actress had to buy back a charm bracelet in order to have something to remind her of her mother.

6. On behalf of victims of sexual assault, Hargitay has testified before Congress.

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Universal

She testified on Capitol Hill both in 2010 and 2017. The major issue of the testimony was the rape kit backlog. The term is used to describe the situation in which evidence kits, that are crucial for the victims, stay untested or waiting for DNA analysis. She urged Congress to support the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.

7. One time on set, she has suffered a collapsed lung

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Universal

In 2009, the actress suffered an injury due to an awkward landing on the ground, after which she couldn’t catch her breath. She required surgery to repair a bleed in her lung caused by this landing.

8. Mariska encouraged real people to tell their stories

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Universal

If you have to portray a lieutenant for almost two decades like she does on SVU, probably it would inspire you toward real-life advocacy. She managed to inhabit the role and encouraged some people to feel like they could share their stories that otherwise, they would hide.

9. She has done an excessive research for the show SVU

Some of the problems and issues the SVU deals with are really more difficult to confront than its usual subject matter. One time for a 2009 episode called “Hell”, she did some research that included a child slave in central Africa that made her realize the magnitude of the real atrocities that are committed there.

10. She had a difficult and dangerous pregnancy

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Universal

The actress suffered from gestational diabetes while pregnant. It leads to increased blood sugar levels and can put the fetus at risk of heart problems. She had to deliver via c-section in June 2006.

11. Arrested in college

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Universal

In the mid-1980s, Mariska attended UCLA. She starred in the video for Ronnie Milsap’s “She Loves My Car.” Due to many unpaid parking tickets, she ended up arrested and taken to jail while still wearing the outfit she wore for the video.

12. Her cop character influenced her real life

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Photo: Law & Order: SVU/NBC Universal

She described the feeling to live like Olivia Benson’s character to E! News as “not knowing where Mariska ends and Olivia starts.”

Source: ranker

I like books, flowers, makeup, and long walks. That pretty much sums me up.

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