Mariska Hargitay Follows in Mom's Footsteps

Kimberly RipleyLife

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Law & Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay followed in famous mom Jayne Mansfield's footsteps this past week. She received her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She received the 2,511th star to be awarded.

Hargitay's star is next to her late mother's. Jayne Mansfield received her star more than 50 years ago. Hargitay was just three years old when her mom passed away in a car accident seven years after receiving her star.

Known for her role as Detective Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU, Hargitay is honored by her star, but her real passion lies elsewhere. It is her work for the Joyful Heart Foundation. The foundation's stated mission is to 'heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.'

Benson launched the foundation back in 2004. She claims her role as Olivia Benson made her acutely aware of the needs the foundation meets.

"It all started when I began my work on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’ over a decade ago," she says in a statement on the Joyful Heart Foundation's website. "In my research for my role, I encountered statistics that shocked me: One in three women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. Every two minutes in the United States, someone is sexually assaulted. More than five children die every day in this country as a result of child abuse and neglect, and up to 15 million children witness domestic violence in their homes each year."

The work Mariska Hargitay does for the Joyful Heart Foundation is what makes her a real star in the eyes of those who have directly benefitted from her foundation. Her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, next to mom Jayne Mansfield's, is a bonus.

Not too many Hollywood actors can say they have taken their role and learned enough from it to start a program that helps lift victims of abuse from their individual trenches. Mariska Hargitay is one-of-a-kind, both on TV and in real life.

Photo via Facebook

Kimberly Ripley
Kimberly Ripley is a freelance writer and published author from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. A wife, mom of five and 'Nana' to Lilly and Aiden, she loves cooking for her big family and watching HGTV in her spare time. Kim is guilty of starting way more home design projects than she can finish. Visit her at Twitter and Facebook.