How two blonde sex symbols spawned Olivia Benson.


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Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson

For this story of irony and ever changing times we need to travel way back in time to 1893. Before the invention of television and feminism when a prolific entertainer was born. Mary Jane West (aka Mae) came into the world on August 17th of that year embarking on a journey that would change the face of American entertainment for 70 plus years. Mae West was multi-talented as a writer, producer, director, actress and perhaps the first self-made sex symbols of her time.

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Mae West

Ms. West famously gave actors Cary Grant and Arnold Schwarzenegger their starts, and not so famously gave a blonde beauty named Jayne a very important introduction to her future husband, Mickey

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Jayne Mansfield

In 1956, Mae had a show in th Latin Quarter of New York in which she surrounded herself with body builders, one of whom was Mickey Hargitay. One night Jayne Mansfield was in the audience when her waiter asked what she would like, taking a page from Mae West, she responded, ‘a steak and the tall man on the left.’

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Jayne and Mickey

A year later, they were married. In 1964, along came Mariska, unfortunately, later the same year, her parents divorced. Only 3 years later, Mariska and her 2 brothers were asleep in the back seat of the now infamous car in which her mother died.

Raised by her father, Mariska’s life went a little differently than her mother’s. She began her career as a beauty queen, competing in 2 pageants before joining the Groundling theatre to begin her acting career. Likely because of her mother Mariska never really went after the sexy girl roles, instead, after quite a few small parts, landing the role of Olivia Benson on Law and Order SVU through which she founded Joyful Heart Foundation where she helps survivors of domestic abuse, child abuse and sexual abuse. Somehow, I think her mother would have been proud.