Mariska Hargitay

by ethnic on September 21, 2008

Birth Name: Mariska Magdolna Hargitay

Place of Birth: Santa Monica, Los Angeles, California, United States

Date of Birth: January 23, 1964

*Hungarian (father)
*English, Cornish, one eighth German (mother)

Mariska Hargitay is an American actress. She is known for her role as Det. Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Mariska’s father, Mickey Hargitay (Miklós Károly Hargitay), was a Hungarian actor, acrobat, and Mr. Universe 1955. Mariska’s mother was 1950s sex symbol, actress, nightclub entertainer, and singer Jayne Mansfield (born Vera Jayne Palmer), who was of seven eighths British Isles (English and Cornish), and one eighth German, descent.

Mariska is married to actor, producer, and writer Peter Hermann, with whom she has three children.

Mariska’s paternal grandparents were Ferenc Hargitai and Mária Róth Fischer.

Mariska’s maternal grandfather was Herbert William Palmer (the son of Elmer E. Palmer and Alice J. Jackson). Elmer was born in Pennsylvania, to parents from England, with Cornish origins, Thomas Palmer and Mary J. Alice was born in Pennsylvania, to an English father, from Cornwall, William H. Jackson, and a mother of German origin, Amanda Whitzman or Custer.

Mariska’s maternal grandmother was Vera Jeffrey Palmer (the daughter of Thomas Henry Palmer and Beatrice Mary Jeffery/Jeffrey). Thomas was born in Pennsylvania, the son of Henry Palmer and Melissa, and was of Cornish/English origin. Beatrice was English, of Cornish origin, and was born in St. Teath, Cornwall, the daughter of Henry Jeffery/Jeffrey and Eliza Jane Cowling.

Sources: Genealogy of Mariska Hargitay –

Genealogies of Mariska Hargitay (focusing on her mother’s side) –

Mariska’s maternal grandfather, Herbert William Palmer, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Joe Seer /

{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew December 30, 2017 at 12:48 pm
madman May 11, 2017 at 2:01 am

Was Mária Róth Fischer an ethnic Hungarian?

madman December 7, 2017 at 11:57 am

Could bablah look at this? Both Roth and Fischer are usually German surnames, and Roth is often Jewish as well.

follers December 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Yes, this falls into that odd, tough to figure out intersection of Hungarian-Jewishness, like Sylvie Vartan’s mother.

ashash December 7, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Maria was probably Jewish.

bablah December 7, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Hungarian civil birth records are available only up to 1920. I could try to find their marriage record, if I knew when they got married.

savanna April 29, 2016 at 6:41 am

“Although a minor actor named Nelson Sardelli claimed to be the girl’s natural father, Mansfield’s former husband Mickey Hargitay never questioned her paternity and raised Mariska as his own, even though her dark features seemed to suggest that Sardelli had sired her.”

Nelson Sardelli is a Brazilian-born singer-comedian of Italian descent.

follers April 29, 2016 at 12:41 pm


phaedra April 10, 2016 at 1:42 am

Looks Levantine.

andrew April 10, 2016 at 10:19 am


phaedra April 28, 2016 at 6:39 pm

Why do your hairy guido balls explode when I say a certain celeb looks Middle Eastern?

andrew April 29, 2016 at 4:53 am

I’m not a “guido” and I’m not hairy at all. There can be women like her in the Middle East but we all know they don’t represent the average.

fuzzybear44 April 30, 2016 at 12:56 am

@ Andrew

Since when are you not Italian?

Capricious October 9, 2015 at 12:06 am

She looks more like a Hungarian Jew.

ashash November 11, 2015 at 6:50 pm

She looks like her mother … who wasn’t even Hungarian.

byyong83 November 13, 2015 at 7:53 am

She has the same facial features as her mother for sure….

Don’t forget her mother wasn’t a natural blonde! Her natural hair colour was the same.

neiltennant June 17, 2015 at 2:06 am

i was in hungary and there were a lot of people with darker skin and dark eyes but on the other hand a lot of blondes with blue eyes and tall

it was like 50:50 good mix

but on the other hand there had been rumors about JANE MAYNSFIELDs ethnicity in the past

if you look at her face you can definitely see the eastern-european roots

M June 4, 2015 at 7:27 pm

Her mother looked part black and looked a lot like Beyonce. She SO reminds me of Beyonce in this picture.

savanna May 15, 2015 at 11:43 am

There have long been rumors that Mariska’s biological father is Nelson Sardelli, but she considers Mickey Hargitay her father. Jayne Mansfield and Sardelli had affair around the time of Mariska’s birth.

bvision April 7, 2012 at 3:20 am

you can definitely see the hungarian in her

BAN VIKING! March 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm

She looks exactly like her mother, Jayne Mansfield. If you see Jayne with her natural hair color (brunette), you will see how much they look alike even more.

Hunky October 17, 2010 at 8:21 pm

All three of her names are Hungarian.

ethnic October 17, 2010 at 8:25 pm


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