Mar 28, 2018

Mariska Hargitay Remembers Her Famous Mother Jayne Mansfield: 'All I Have to Do Is Look in the Mirror'

Mariska Hargitay at People
Mariska Hargitay at

Long before there was Pamela Anderson, there was Jayne Mansfield.

Mariska Hargitay was just 3 years old when Mansfield, her legendary screen siren mom, was killed in a car accident in 1967. Sitting down exclusively with PEOPLE in this week’s issue (on stands Friday), Hargitay opens up about the loss — and how it shaped who she is today.

“The way I’ve lived with loss is to lean into it,” says the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star. “As the saying goes, the only way out is through. In my life, certainly I’ve tried to avoid pain, loss, feeling things. But I’ve learned instead to real­ly lean into it, because sooner or later you have to pay the piper.”

“I’m not saying it’s easy, and it certainly hasn’t been for me,” she adds. “There’s been a lot of darkness. But on the other side things can be so bright.”

Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield with their children Zoltan and Mariska
Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield with their children Zoltan and Mariska

Mansfield was a platinum-­haired bombshell in an era in which few actresses dared to embrace their sensuality — and Hargitay, 54, still lights up when discussing her lasting legacy.

“My mother was this amazing, beautiful, glamor­ous sex symbol — but people didn’t know that she played the violin and had a 160 IQ and had five kids and loved dogs,” she says, tearing up a little. “She was just so ahead of her time. She was an inspiration, she had this appetite for life, and I think I share that with her.”

“Someone once said about [remembering] my mother: ‘All you have to do is look in the mirror,’ ” she adds. “She’s with me still.”

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