Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has been on air for 24 seasons, and its leading lady, Mariska Hargitay, has captured the hearts of audiences everywhere with her portrayal of Captain Olivia Benson. But did you know that showbiz runs in her blood? Hargitay's mother was none other than the legendary Jayne Mansfield, a talented actress and supermodel in her own right.
Jayne Mansfield made a name for herself in the golden age of Hollywood during the 1950s and 60s. She was one of the first "bombshells" of her time, and she knew how to stand out from the crowd. Mansfield was not only known for her looks but also for her talent. She posed for Playboy throughout the 1950s, gaining recognition and securing a contract with Warner Brothers. She landed small roles in notable films such as Pete Kelly's Blues, Hell on Frisco Bay, and Illegal. But Mansfield's breakthrough role came when she was cast in the Broadway comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Although taking the role meant losing her studio contract, Mansfield shined as the sultry superstar Rita Marlowe. Returning to Hollywood after her successful run on Broadway, Mansfield was offered a contract with 20th Century Fox.
It was during her time in the entertainment industry that Mansfield met Mickey Hargitay, the 1955 Mr. Universe and Hollywood actor. The two fell in love and married in 1958, eventually having three children together, including Mariska. However, their marriage ended in divorce just a few years after Mariska's birth. Tragically, Mansfield's life was cut short in 1967 when she was involved in a fatal car accident in Louisiana. Though her children survived, Mansfield, her lawyer-boyfriend, and their driver did not. This heartbreaking incident led to changes in U.S. policy, requiring all tractor-trailers to be equipped with a steel bar to prevent cars from sliding underneath them. These bars are now commonly referred to as "Mansfield Bars."