Mickey Hargitay

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The native form of this personal name is Hargitay Miklós. This article uses the Western name order.
Mickey Hargitay
Mickey Hargitay 1964.JPG
Hargitay in 1964.
Born Miklós Hargitay
(1926-01-06)January 6, 1926
Budapest, Hungary
Died September 14, 2006(2006-09-14) (aged 80)
Los Angeles, California, US
Spouse(s) Mary Birge (1948–1956)
Jayne Mansfield (1958–1964)
Ellen Siano (1967–2006) (his death)

Miklós "Mickey" Hargitay (/ˈhɑrɡɨt/; Hungarian: Hargitay Miklós [ˈhɒrgitɒj ˈmikloːʃ]; January 6, 1926 – September 14, 2006) was an actor and Mr. Universe 1955. Born in Budapest, Hungary, he was married to Jayne Mansfield, and 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).

Early life and sports career[edit]

Mickey Hargitay on a magazine cover, 1955.

Born and raised in Hungary, Hargitay performed in an acrobatic act with his brothers. He also played soccer and became a champion speed skater.[1] 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, 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. Hargitay became NABBA Mr. Universe in 1955. After winning Mr. Universe, he joined Mae West's muscleman revue at New York's 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.

Acting career[edit]

Hargitay's first film role came when Jayne Mansfield demanded he be cast in her newest movie, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). The two had met the year before at The Mae West Show at the Latin Quarter. When Jayne noticed Mickey performing, she told the waiter, "I’ll have a steak and that tall man on the left."[2] The two fell head over heels in love and were never seen apart. 20th Century Fox didn't want Hargitay in Rock Hunter, because they hated Mansfield's view of Hargitay as her "only" lover; Fox liked their sex symbols to be single.

In 1960, Jayne and Mickey would play the lead roles in The Loves of Hercules. The film was shot in Italy, and to this day hasn't been released in US movie theaters. (Available on Netflix under the title; Hercules vs Hydra.) Over the next few years Mickey and Jayne, together, would appear in, Promises! Promises! (1963) and L'Amore Primitivo (1964). In 1965, Mickey, only, would have the lead role in Bloody Pit of Horror.

He also acted in Hungarian director György Szomjas' 1988 film, Mr. Universe.[3]

Hargitay's final acting appearance was in an episode of his daughter Mariska's series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In the episode "Control" (2003), 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.

Personal life[edit]

Mansfield and husband Mickey Hargitay dancing at the Candy Stik Lounge

His first marriage was to Mary Birge. Together they had a daughter Tina Hargitay (b. 1949). They divorced on September 6, 1956.

Hargitay and Mansfield married on January 13, 1958. They had three children: Miklós Jeffrey Palmer Hargitay (b. December 21, 1958), Zoltán Anthony Hargitay (b. August 1, 1960), and Mariska Magdolna Hargitay (called Maria, b. January 23, 1964). Hargitay remodeled much of his and Mansfield's Beverly Hills mansion, "The Pink Palace",[4] building its famous heart-shaped swimming pool. In November 2002, the house was razed by developers who had purchased it from Engelbert Humperdinck.

In May 1963, Mickey and Jayne divorced in Juarez, Mexico. The divorce was ruled invalid, and the two reconciled in October 1963. After Mariska's birth, Mansfield sued for the Juarez divorce to be declared legal and won. The divorce was recognized in the United States on August 26, 1964. After Mansfield's death in a car crash on June 29, 1967, Hargitay sued Jayne's estate for over $5,000 to support the children. In their divorce decree, Jayne had agreed to pay child support and to give Mickey approximately $70,000 in cash and property.

Hargitay married again in September 1967 to Ellen Siano, his wife until his death.

Arnold Schwarzenegger played the role of Mickey Hargitay in the 1980 TV-movie The Jayne Mansfield Story.

Hargitay's nephew and godson Eddie Hargitay is also an actor.

Death[edit]

He died in Los Angeles on September 14, 2006, aged 80, from multiple myeloma. The Los Angeles Times noted in Hargitay's obituary:[5]

"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."

Filmography[edit]

Year Movie Title Role Notes
1957 Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Bobo Branigansky Film Debut; First Film with wife, Jayne Mansfield
1957 Slaughter on Tenth Avenue Big John
1960 The Loves of Hercules Hercules Co-starring Mansfield; Aka: Gli amori di Ercole (Italy; original title)
1963 Promises! Promises! King Banner Co-starring Mansfield
1964 L'Amore Primitivo Hotel Bell Captain Last film co-starring Mansfield; Aka: Primitive Love (US); not released in the US until 1966
1964 La vendetta dei gladiatori Fabius
1965 Uno straniero a Sacramento Mike Jordan Aka: Stranger in Sacramento (US)
1965 Sheriff Won't Shoot Allan
1965 Bloody Pit of Horror Travis Anderson Was to co-star with Mansfield, but the two divorced before filming began
1966 Three Graves for a Winchester Ringo Carson
1966 7 Golden Women Against Two 07 Mark Davis Aka: Sette donne d'oro contro due 07 (Italy; original title)
1967 Cjamango Clinton
1970 Ringo, It's Massacre Time Mike Wood
1971 Lady Frankenstein Captain Harris
1972 Delirio caldo Herbert Lyutak
1973 Riti, magie nere e segrete orge nel trecento... Jack Nelson Final film appearance
2003 Law and Order: Special Victims Unit Grandfather Guest Star; Episode "Control"

References and footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Cohen, Sandy (September 19, 2006). "Actor Mickey Hargitay Dies at Age 80". Washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  2. ^ Gene Mozee (February 2007). "Mickey Hargitay(In Memoriam)". Ironman Magazine. Retrieved April 10, 2011. 
  3. ^ "FilmVilág". Emir.hu. 1990-12-03. Retrieved 2011-07-28. 
  4. ^ http://www.dianamystery.com/Jayne_pink_palace2.jpg Jayne Mansfield Pink Palace
  5. ^ McLellan, Dennis (2006-09-19). "Mickey Hargitay, 80; Bodybuilder Popularized the Sport - Los Angeles Times". Latimes.com. Retrieved 2011-07-28. 

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