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Mariska Magdolna Hargitay ( mə-RISH-kə HAR-ghih-tay; born January 23, 1964) is an American actress known for her role as New York Police Department Lieutenant Olivia Benson on the NBC drama series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. For her role on the show, Hargitay has received multiple awards and nominations, including a Primetime Emmy and Golden Globe.
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 television shows throughout the late 1980s and 1990s before being cast as Olivia Benson, a role that led to her founding the Joyful Heart Foundation, which provides support to women who have been sexually abused.