Place of Death
Los Angeles, California, USA
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Mr. Universe 1955
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Mickey Hargitay (January 6, 1926 – September 14, 2006) was an actor and Mr. Universe 1955. He was born in Budapest, Hungary. He also is noted for his marriage to Jayne Mansfield, and as the father of actress Mariska Hargitay.
Growing up in Hungary, he performed in an acrobatic act with his brothers. He also played soccer and became a champion speed skater. An underground fighter during World War II, Hargitay fled Hungary after the war and moved to the United States. He settled in Cleveland, where he met and married his first wife, Mary Birge (with whom he also had an acrobatic act and one child, Tina, who was born in 1949), and worked as a plumber and carpenter. He was inspired to begin bodybuilding after seeing a magazine cover of Steve Reeves, famed for playing Hercules. He became NABBA Mr. Universe in 1955. After winning Mr. Universe, he joined Mae West`s muscleman revue at New York`s The Latin Quarter, where he met Jayne Mansfield, his wife from 1958 to 1964. He is the first recipient of the Joe Weider Lifetime Achievement Award. In May 2006, he received the Muscle Beach Hall of Fame Award from the Muscle Beach Historical Committee
He acted in two of Mansfield`s most notable films with her - The Loves of Hercules (1960) and Promises! Promises! (1963), and also appeared in a cameo (as Mansfield`s boyfriend) in the film version of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. From 1959 to 1961, Hargitay hosted a television exercise show. He also starred as Travis Anderson in the Italian horror film Bloody Pit of Horror.
Hargitay`s final acting appearance was in an episode of his daughter Mariska`s series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In the episode "Control", Hargitay played a man on a subway station escalator who witnesses the aftermath of a brutal assault. Mariska`s character, Olivia Benson, is later seen interviewing him.
His first marriage was to Mary Birge. Together they had a daughter Tina Hargitay (1949—). They divorced 6 September 1956.
Hargitay and Mansfield married on January 13, 1958. They had three children Miklós Jeffrey Palmer Hargitay (21 December 1958—), Zoltán Anthony Hargitay (1 August 1960—), Mariska Magdolna Hargitay (called Maria, 23 January 1964—). Mickey Hargitay remodeled much of his and Mansfield`s Beverly Hills mansion, "The Pink Palace", building its famous heart-shaped swimming pool. In November 2002, the house was razed by developers. Its previous owner had been Engelbert Humperdinck.
In May 1963 in Juarez, Mexico they divorced. The divorce was ruled invalid, and the two reconciled in October 1963. After the birth of Mariska, winner of a Golden Globe award (2005) and an Emmy Award (2006), Jayne sued for the Juarez divorce to be declared legal and won. The divorce was recognised in the United States on August 26, 1964. After Mansfield`s death in a car crash on June 29, 1967, Hargitay sued her estate for over $275,000 to support the children; in their divorce decree, she had agreed to pay child support and to give him approximately $70,000 in cash and property.
Hargitay married again in September 1967 to Ellen Siano, his wife until his death, who helped raise Miklós Jr., Zoltán, and Mariska.
Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of Mickey Hargitay in the 1982 TV-movie The Jayne Mansfield Story.
Mickey Hargitay had a brother, Ede. Mickey was his grandson Eddie Hargitay`s godfather.
He died in Los Angeles on September 14, 2006, aged 80, from multiple myeloma. The Los Angeles Times noted in Hargitay`s obituary:
“ "Walter Winchell once said that what [President] Eisenhower did for golf, Mickey Hargitay did for bodybuilding, because he brought it to the forefront," Gene Mozee, a bodybuilding historian and writer for Iron Man magazine, told The Times on Monday. "Back in those days, bodybuilding was thought of as a freakish, unusual activity that wasn`t popular with the general public," Mozee said. "At that time, athletic coaches discouraged lifting weights, thinking you`d become muscle bound. And along came Mickey Hargitay, a great all-around athlete."
Full Name at Birth
Miklós "Mickey" Hargitay (; Hungarian: Hargitay Miklós January 6, 1926 – September 14, 2006) was a Hungarian-American actor and Mr. Universe 1955. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Hargitay moved to the United States in 1947, where he eventually became a citizen. He was married to Jayne Mansfield, and is the father of actress Mariska Hargitay. During their marriage, Hargitay and Mansfield made four movies together, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), The Loves of Hercules (1960), Promises! Promises! (1963), and L'Amore Primitivo (1964).
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