NBC Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive show news, updates, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View
NBC Insider Law & Order Franchise

You'll Love the Sentimental Meaning of Mariska Hargitay's Name and Its Tie to Her Dad

Mickey Hargitay explained the emotional roots behind his daughter's name in 2003. 

By Jackie Manno

Mariska Hargitay's name is certainly unique and beautiful, and it turns out it has very sentimental ties to her family as well. 

How to Watch

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

"I was named after my grandmother. My whole name is my dad's mother's name," Hargitay explained in 2003 during a celebration of the 100th episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

The story of Mariska Hargitay's name

"As a matter of fact, when Mariska [was] born, her mother, Jayne Mansfield, and I, went to Hungary, and we announced to my parents and also the press that Mariska is coming. And my mother wanted to name her Mariska so much. And that's how she became Mariska. She's a real Hungarian," her father, Mickey Hargitay chimed in while beaming at his daughter. 

Mariska means "star of the sea" or "beloved" in Hungarian, according to The Bump, and is "a diminutive of the Latin name Mary."

RELATED: Why Mariska Hargitay Said Jane Fonda "Invoked My Mother" in Poignant Speech

Mickey actually starred in the 100th SVU episode in 2003, Season 5, Episode 9's "Control." It was his final role before his death in 2006. 

Mariska Mickey Hargitay Law And Order Svu

In the episode, Mickey played a grandfather who witnesses a man falling to his death, who then recalled what he saw to Captain Olivia Benson, played by his daughter.

What to know about Mickey Hargitay 

Born in Hungary, Mickey Hargitay moved to the USA at the age of 21 as a bodybuilder, and went on to win the title of Mr. Universe in 1955. 

In 1958, he married actress Jayne Mansfield, and had three children together, Miklós, Zoltán, and Mariska, before divorcing in 1964. Mickey and Mansfield also starred in film projects together, such as The Loves of HerculesPromises! Promises!, and Primitive Love.

RELATED: Mariska Hargitay Celebrates Brother Mickey Jr's Birthday: Pic

Mickey passed away of cancer in 2006 at the age of 80, but his daughter has done a great job of making sure his legacy lives on. 

In 2018, Mariska opened up to Closer Weekly about valuable lessons 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?’

In January 2024, Mariska also made a heartwarming tribute post to her father on what would be his 98th birthday. In the Instagram snapshot that she shared, we catch a glimpse of Mickey smiling and wearing a suit at what appears to be a red carpet event. 

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