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Mariska Hargitay Remembers Dad Mickey Hargitay on What Would Be His 98th Birthday

The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star honored her later father with an emotional message.

By Jackie Manno

Mariska Hargitay's legendary father will always be near and dear to her heart. 

How to Watch

Watch the Season 26 premiere of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c on NBC.

On January 6, the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star posted a throwback picture of her late father, Mickey Hargitay, on what would have been his 98th birthday. The actor died of cancer at the age of 80, just three years after his final acting role, which just happened to be on SVU alongside his daughter.

The throwback photograph Hargitay shared showed Mickey dressed in a suit and smiling on what appears to be a red carpet event.

"Happy birthday Dad. #ICarryYouWithMe Forever in my heart," she lovingly captioned the post. 

See the picture here.

What to know about Mariska Hargitay's father, Mickey Hargitay

Mickey Hargitay was a Hungarian body builder who notably won the title of Mr. Universe in 1955 after moving to the U.S. at the age of 21.

In an interview with the L.A. Times, fellow muscleman Arnold Schwarzenegger discussed the impact that Mickey Hargitay had on the bodybuilding community. "Bodybuilding was dominated by American champions; there was no hope for anyone else," he told the outlet. "That someone from central Europe became Mr. Universe gave hope for someone like myself and others to dream about."

Shortly after Mickey was given the Mr. Universe title, he caught the attention of iconic actress Mae West, who cast him as a muscleman for her Las Vegas act called The Mae West Revue. There, Hargitay met and fell in love with fellow sex symbol Jayne Mansfield, and the two starred in several film projects together, including The Loves of HerculesPromises! Promises!, and Primitive Love. They wed in 1958, and had three children together, Miklós, Zoltán, and Mariska, before divorcing in 1964. 

Mariska and her father Mickey Hargitay

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay Shares Striking Unseen Photo of Jayne Mansfield & Mickey Hargitay

Mickey then went on to star in several Hungarian and Italian horror and western films throughout the 60s and 70s. He also had a guest role in a 2003, Season 5 episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit titled "Control." In the episode, he acted alongside his daughter, playing the role of a man who witnesses a concerning moment in a subway station, and recalls what he saw to Benson as a potential witness. Mickey passed away three years after the appearance, making it his final credited acting role. 

Mickey's legacy is living on strong. In a 2018 interview with Closer WeeklyHarigtay opened up about what her father taught her in life. “The message I got from my father was that life is hard, but you just don’t quit,” she told the outlet. “I’d get an audition and he’d say, ‘How hard are you going to work for it?’