Mariska Magdolna Hargitay (/məˈrɪʃkə ˈhɑːrɡɪteɪ/; born January 23, 1964) is an American actress, director and philanthropist. The daughter of bodybuilder and actor Mickey Hargitay and actress Jayne Mansfield, Hargitay made her film debut in the 1985 horror comedy film Ghoulies and her major television debut in the 1986 adventure drama series Downtown. She appeared in numerous roles in film and on television throughout the late 1980s and 1990s before having her breakthrough for starring as Olivia Benson on the NBC drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present), for which she has received several accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award. Outside of acting, Hargitay founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization that provides support to people who have been sexually abused.
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