Young Mariska Hargitay: See what she looked like long before ‘Law & Order: SVU’

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Young Mariska Hargitay modeling
Before Mariska Hargitay became known to the world by playing Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU for seventy years (okay, really it’s only been since 1999), she had smaller roles in several different TV shows, including Baywatch, thirtysomething and Seinfeld.

Even before that, though, a beautiful young Mariska appeared in country legend Ronnie Milsap’s 1984 music video for She Loves My Car — a phenomenally cliched ’80s video saved by a pretty young thing.

While the stars were still aligning for her first big part — a recurring role on Falcon Crest that started in 1988 — the then 24-year-old took on a job modeling for Rakish, a Southern California clothing store.

As you can see here, Mariska, daughter of the legendary beauty Jayne Mansfield, was clearly comfortable in front of the camera. These photos are also fun to see because she was able to do something that’s pretty uncommon in her role as commanding officer of the Manhattan Special Victims Unit: smile.

Mariska Hargitay in the “She Loves My Car” video (1984)


Young Mariska Hargitay modeling in LA (1988)

Young Mariska Hargitay 1988 (4)

Falcon getting ‘little Angela’ – New character is wild, crazy girl played by Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay recently joined CBS’ Falcon Crest as Carly Fixx, a role she describes as a “little Angela Channing.”

She plays the half-sister of Dan Fixx. He’s the protege of Angela Channing, and she’s the matriarch of the wine-growing Gioberti family of Tuscany Valley. Carly is the half-sister that Fixx never knew he had.

Younger viewers will likely recognize Hargitay from last year’s Downtown and from Ronnie Milsap’s music video She Loves My Car. She’s also appeared in a few small movies.

Mariska Hargitay takes on modeling

Older viewers would recognize the names of her parents. She is the daughter of Jayne Mansfield, the 19503 blond sex symbol, and Mickey Hargitay, a former Mr. Universe. Mansfield died in an automobile accident in 1967.

Hargitay, who was three when her mother died, has her beauty. but her hair is brown and her complexion is dark.

She was studying acting when her agent asked her to audition for “Falcon Crest.” It was for the role of Shannon. “I read for it and they called me back two days later,” she said. “They said I did good, but Tahnee Welch, the daughter of Raquel, got the role.

“They called me back the next week and said they loved me so much they were writing me a part. I love that.”

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Mariska modeling in 1988

A further examination of the lineage and family connections of this long-running, prime-time soap opera might require the services of a genealogist.

Since the show made its debut in 1981, there has been much traffic in and out of Tuscany Valley of mysterious strangers with vague relationships. Hargitay’s character is simply another traveler in the tradition.

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“I find out I have this rich brother in California, so I come looking for a father figure,” she said. “I’m this wild, crazy girl in a lot of pain looking for a family. She finds Dan, who’s a protege of Angela Channing and is having an affair with Melissa Cumson. He’s a good guy, mysterious, a loner.

“Carly’s a person who’ll do or say anything. I’m not disrespectful, I just don’t know better. I’m like a little Angela Channing. She manipulates me, she uses me to get information on other people. Yet, I treat Angela in a way no one else ever has. I call her a ‘groovy old lady’ or ‘Ange’ or ‘Angie Baby.’

Young Mariska Hargitay 1988

Hargitay said she auditions regularly for parts, which is also how she landed the role of the street kid in Downtown. While a student at UCLA, she kept going to auditions and got roles in small films.

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One Response

  1. Funny that the Ronnie Milsap video starts with a radio report about a car accident… since that’s how Mariska’s mother died. Just sayin’.

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