Mariska Hargitay Honors Late Mother Jayne Mansfield on Her Birthday

Pop Culture

Mariska Hargitay was only three years old when her mother, Jayne Mansfield, died, but she hasn’t forgotten her. 

“Happy birthday, Mama. We live to love you more each day,” she captioned a black-and-white photograph of the late Hollywood icon on Instagram Thursday, on what would have been her mother’s 90th birthday. 

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Mansfield had five children; Hargitay was one of three she shared with her second husband, bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, and was born in the midst of her parents’ divorce. 

In a classic Hollywood tragedy that has long fascinated audiences, Mansfield died in a car crash on June 29, 1967, en route to New Orleans for a publicity engagement. She was in the front seat with her attorney and driver in the early morning hours when the car slammed into the back of a tractor-trailer. All three died instantly, but Hargitay and two of her siblings were also in the car, sleeping in the backseat, and sustained only minor injuries. 

Hargitay, who followed in her mother’s footsteps to become an actor, has said that she still struggles with the trauma of her early life and her mother’s death. “I clearly was in that frozen place for a lot of my childhood—of trying to survive, actually trying to survive,” she told Glamour in 2021. “My life has been a process of unpeeling the layers and trust and trusting again.”

“I think I learned about crisis very young, and I learned very young that shit happens and there’s no guarantees, and we keep going,” she said. “And then we transform it. That’s been kind of my superpower, and the gift of having trauma early in life.”

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