Mariska Hargitay

Hargitay in 2011, Joe Seer /

Birth Name: Mariska Magdolna Hargitay

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

Date of Birth: January 23, 1964

*father – Hungarian
*mother – English, Cornish, one eighth German

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 named Ferenc Hargitai and Mária Róth Fischer.

Mariska’s maternal grandfather was Herbert William Palmer (the son of Elmer E. Palmer and Alice J. Jackson). Herbert was born in Pennsylvania. 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). Vera was born in Pennsylvania. 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’s mother –

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


Curious about ethnicity

22 Responses

  1. madman says:

    Was Mária Róth Fischer an ethnic Hungarian?

  2. savanna says:

    “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.

  3. phaedra says:

    Looks Levantine.

  4. Capricious says:

    She looks more like a Hungarian Jew.

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