Mariska Hargitay

Actress Mariska Hargitay plays uptight detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Hargitay comes from a showbiz family: Her mother was B-movie bombshell Jayne Mansfield and her dad was the Hungarian-born former Mr. Universe Mickey Hargitay. Mariska was just three when her mother was killed in a car accident in Louisiana; although she was in the car with her mother at time (along with her two brothers), she survived, suffering a scar that now runs across her head. Hargitay started acting and modeling as a teenager and made her movie debut while a student at UCLA in 1983's Star 80. But for much of the late '80s and early '90s, Hargitay made do with low-profile parts on TV shows like Falcon Crest, Baywatch, and Seinfeld and in movies like Leaving Las Vegas. She has made her name on Law & Order: SVU as Detective Olivia Benson and she's now spent nearly a decade discovering dead girls' bodies in dumpsters. She and her husband writer have three children. [Image via Getty]