Cary Grant’s Wife And Daughter Opened Up About His Past

With his suave sophistication and slapstick charm, Cary Grant could play any role — the fool, the lover, the man's man — and always leave the audience wanting more. His films remain some of the most beloved of all time, but his ex-wife and only daughter recently revealed a side of the icon that not many were prepared for. Though the actor was rarely spotted without a smile, these revelations prove that the real Grant was nothing like the characters he portrayed.

A Hard Childhood

Born in Horfield, Bristol, as Archibald Alec Leach, Cary Grant's childhood in England wasn't an easy one. His father Elias was an alcoholic, and after placing Grant's clinically depressed mother in a mental institution, he remarried and abandoned Grant when he was just ten years old.

Young Performer

To escape his troubles, Grant (bottom right) pursued a stage career, touring as a stilt walker with the acrobatic dance troupe "The Penders." Although he earned a scholarship to attend Fairfield Grammar School in 1915, he was expelled three years later and took up touring full time.

Vaudeville Hit

As a member of "The Penders" and later of his own troupe, the "Jack Janis Company," Grant became a hit on the vaudeville scene. Even as the Great Depression took its toll, audiences turned out in droves for a taste of the young Englishman's undeniable charm.

The Sullivan Stamp of Approval

After rave reviews from Ed Sullivan, Grant was given a screen test by Paramount Publix and made his first film appearance in 1931's Singapore Sue. He was soon after signed to a five-year, $450/week contract by Paramount Pictures and officially adopted the stage name Cary Grant.

Failed Marriage

With Grant's newfound fame came new love, as he wed his first wife, actress Virginia Cherrill, in 1934. The marriage was short-lived, however, as the couple split in 1935 and followed with a widely publicized, bitter divorce battle.

Comedy Star

But Grant bounced back in spectacular fashion, going on to star in screwball comedies such as The Awful Truth (1937), Bringing Up Baby (1938), and His Girl Friday (1940) that propelled him to superstardom.

Barbara Hutton

Grant's love life, too, bounced back, as in 1942 he married Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Unfortunately, this marriage also wasn't meant to be, though after divorcing in 1945, Grant and Hutton remained "the fondest of friends."


Despite achieving some of his greatest career successes post-WWII, Grant's career began to decline around 1950 after a slew of box-office bombs. Still, he had his third wife, actress Betsy Drake, to fall back on during this time.


Grant's marriage to Drake lasted 12 years, during which he reinvented himself as a romantic leading man. His roles in To Catch a Thief (1955), The Pride and the Passion (1957), and North By Northwest (1959) solidified Grant as one of Hollywood's most iconic actors.

Family Man

But Grant decided to give it all up in 1965 after wedding his fourth wife Dyan Cannon and welcoming his only daughter, Jennifer, a year later. Unwilling to resign himself to playing grandfathers, the 62-year-old decided to devote the majority of his time to his family.

The Dark Side

Grant's marriage to Cannon appeared picture perfect, though in her 2011 memoir Dear Cary, the actress revealed that her relationship with Grant wasn't all it seemed. Although she had enjoyed dating the Hollywood icon at first, Cannon soon began to see his darker side.

Control Freak

According to Cannon, Grant's behavior began to change shortly after their engagement. Not only did he attempt to get his new bride to give up acting, but he allegedly went as far as trying to change the way she looked.

Wedding Day Woes

"He’d started criticizing my appearance and was agitated on our wedding day," Cannon wrote. "The following day, my ring finger started to swell up and we had to find a plumber to blowtorch my wedding ring off. If that wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what was."

Feeling Distant

Even when it came to Cannon's pregnancy, Grant was a totally different person: "By the time I was pregnant, [Grant] had also withdrawn from me physically – which is hard because, before that, we had been all over each other. Things became polite, almost cold, between us."

Drug Habit

Most shockingly of all, Cannon claimed that Grant forced her to frequently use LSD. After suffering a breakdown following her divorce from Grant in 1968, doctors claimed the LSD was a primary cause of her mental health issues.

Mixed Feelings

Despite these allegations, Cannon also admitted that she may have expected too much from their marriage: "As much as I loved him then... I’d have to say I’d also fallen in love with his image and expected that image to make me happy, which was impossible."

Daughter of an Icon

As for Jennifer, she also penned a memoir recalling her parents' relationship, though she acknowledges that she wasn't always privy to the dysfunction of their marriage. "It was lovely to read about their romance," she wrote, "but the details of their dissolution were difficult."

No Makeup

Jennifer also gave insight into her own relationship with Grant, claiming that he was incredibly strict when it came to certain matters. He strongly opposed his daughter's use of makeup, and after discovering mascara in her room on one occasion, he lashed out at her.

Warm Memories

But life with Grant wasn't all bad, as Jennifer also had fond memories of her father. He always remained a constant presence in her life despite his star status and was generous to a fault, ensuring that she would never want for anything.

A Proud Legacy

And despite their falling out, Cannon still plans on keeping her ex-husband's legacy alive. The actress wrote a Broadway play chronicling Grant's life, thereby bringing the legendary charm of one of Hollywood's greatest leading men to a brand new generation. Cary was far from a perfect husband, but one of his previous relationships might have soured his romantic ideals.

Cary and Barbara

Being married to Barbara Hutton came with serious baggage, after all. "Poor little rich girl" may have sounded like a spiteful nickname to anyone who didn't know its owner, early-1900s socialite Barbara Hutton. Behind the glitz and glamour was a deeply damaged soul, one that rarely had a reprieve from death, tragedy, and heartbreak.

Born with a Silver Spoon

Like most socialites, Barbara was born into privilege. She grew up surrounded by the hustle and bustle of her grandfather's successful retail chain, Woolworth's, though she never really developed any business skills of her own. It didn't matter anyway; her grandparents' deaths meant she'd never have to work a day in her life.

Personal Hurt

Upon their passing, young Barbara inherited $26 million. You wouldn't be crazy for thinking this lavish inheritance meant Barbara could live a worry-free life, but all the money in the world couldn't stop tragedy from knocking on Barbara's door. Barbara's childhood was nothing short of traumatic.

Childhood Tragedy

At only four years old, Barbara made an emotionally-scarring discovery: her mother's lifeless body, draped across her bed at the Plaza Hotel. Although newspapers stated her mother's death was due to an illness, rumors spread that it had been caused by something much worse.

Young Grief

Allegedly, Barbara's mother had learned about her husband's affair with another woman. Inconsolable, she poisoned herself, leaving her only daughter to find her body. To make matters worse, Barbara couldn't exactly run to her philandering father for comfort. On the contrary...

Not a Fairytale

Barbara's father didn't grieve his wife's death so much as he ignored it, choosing instead to neglect young Barbara and immediately marry again. Irene Curley Bodde became Barbara's very own "wicked" step-mother, not that she or her husband did much to raise Barbara.

Lonely Life

Nannies and governesses were tasked with raising Barbara until her early teen years. By that point, those in charge felt she was old enough for the next phrase of her life: boarding school. Unsurprisingly, things didn't improve for Barbara at Miss Porter's School for Girls.

Trouble at School

Despite having all the money she could ever want, Barbara didn't show off to the other girls. Instead, she became quiet and withdrawn, and made very few friends at boarding school. Going home wasn't an option, as her father and stepmother would often forget to pick her up during school vacations.

Entering Adulthood

Those lonely teenage years made Barbara crave a more exciting life. It was only a matter of time before she'd be old enough to have access to the money her grandparents left her. By then, the "poor little rich girl" of Woolworth's department empire was on the verge of being a marriageable heiress.

Start of a Socialite

But before she could start accepting proposals from rich men, she had to officially debut into society. After growing up with so little love and affection from her family, she looked forward to it being all about her for a change...which ended up being a major problem.


Barbara's grand debutante entrance at 18 years old just happened to occur right as the Great Depression was devastating the public. As a member of high society, the realities of the Depression didn't exactly make their way to her doorstep. All she wanted to do was celebrate, so she sank almost $1 million into her own ball.

Tone-Deaf Celebrities

The party was epic. The Astor and Rockefeller families were in attendance, and everyone danced, drank, and partied to the music stylings of Rudy Vallée and Maurice Chevalier. It was a star-studded event, but the newspapers ran a much different story: As the celebrities drank champagne, millions of people on the sidewalk below the party were starving to death.

Refuge Abroad

All Barbara wanted was a stress-free celebration of her own wealth, but what she got was the first — and far from her last — scandal of her life. She was torn apart by the press, who balked at the extravagant cost of the party. The public outcry was so severe that Barbara was shipped off to Europe to escape.


From there, scandal seemed to follow Barbara everywhere she went. The gossip columns became fixated on the rivalry been Barbara Hutton and Doris Duke, another socialite. The two had a lot in common — both were heiresses, and both were the same age — and a friendship might have been possible in their youth.

Over Her Dead Body

Instead, Doris and Barbara spent their lives attempting to one-up each other. Since Doris was a little more restrained with her money, Barbara called her cheap. Conversely, Doris criticized Barbara's uncontrollable spending, and was jealous of Barbara's movie-star good looks. The pettiness knew no bounds, and it only got worse once men were brought into the rivalry.

Marriage Hiccups

Both Doris and Barbara had storied love lives, but it was Barbara who racked up an impressive seven marriages throughout her life. She and Doris even married the same man (at different times, of course), infamous playboy Porfirio "Rubi" Rubirosa. Barbara's most famous husband, however, was charismatic actor Cary Grant.

Barbara's Public Image

In the early years of World War II, Barbara's image started to improve as she involved herself in the war effort. She donated her yacht to the Royal Navy, sold war bonds, and donated much of her fortune in the process. And when she married the beloved Cary Grant in 1942, her positive image flourished.

Greedy Exes

Naturally suave and devastatingly handsome, Cary Grant was the husband Barbara remembered most fondly. After all, he wasn't just a major movie star, but also her only ex who didn't demand millions upon settling the divorce papers. That said, he wasn't the husband with whom Barbara had a tragic experience.

The World's Richest Baby

It was husband #2, Count Kurt Heinrich Reventlow, who shared a child with Barbara. They divorced in 1938 after three years of marriage, but Barbara continued to raise their son, Lance. He was dubbed "the world's richest baby" by the press, but as with his mother, his wealth didn't lead to prosperity.

Tragic Ends

Like his mom, Lance dazzled the press with his charm and good looks. His passion for race car driving, however, made his mother nervous for his safety. But in a terrible twist of fate, it was actually a plane crash that took Lance's life at the young age of 36.

Final Years

Losing her mom, son, and grandparents was traumatic enough for Barbara, not to mention six failed marriages. By her 60s, the socialite's health was in a dramatic decline. She suffered a hip injury but denied treatment, choosing instead to suffer through the pain. By then, her eye sight had deteriorated to such an extent that she was nearly blind.

Sick and Tired

Her final divorce from husband #7 occurred in 1966, and just like the others, the settlement very nearly drained Barbara's fortune. But it wasn't just her divorces that drained her bank account; by the 1970s, she'd been so generous with her money that rumors held that she had just $3,500 to her name.

Coming Full Circle

Barbara Hutton passed away from a heart attack in 1979. She died, alone, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. The "poor little rich girl" had grown up lonely and died a recluse, but a sad story isn't all she left behind. Her many generous donations during World War II and beyond are appreciated to this day...

The Gabor Sisters

Millions of dollars and a respected family name is what made New York-born Barbara Hutton famous; In another part of the world, the Gabors didn’t have that luxury. By the time Eva, the youngest sister, was born in 1919, the girls’ mother, Jolie, had already pre-planned their futures for them.

How To Get Famous?

Jolie envisioned a life of fame and fortune for herself and her daughters, and they were taught from a young age that this future wasn’t a choice — it was mandatory, and Jolie gave her daughters controversial advice about how to get there.

Must Be Beautiful

Jolie was a proponent of cosmetic surgery and taught the girls that whatever they didn’t have naturally could be attained by going under the knife. She even charged people two cents if they ever touched her carefully-sculpted face! And education? It wasn’t exactly Jolie’s priority.

Forgoing Education

“To use a checkbook they did not need geometry or algebra,” Jolie was once quoted saying about her daughters. Instead of math, the girls learned social etiquette, and instead of science, they learned different languages, all with one ambitious end goal...

Competing Sisters

Jolie’s biggest dream was for one of her daughters to marry into royalty. She told her daughters that whoever married a prince would be “loved most of all” by their mother. With that, the Gabor Sisters became competitors, and not only for their mother’s love. 

Moving To Hollywood

The best shot the girls had at making their mother’s dreams come true was in Hollywood, so the trio moved there to make it big in the movies. Still, just because the sisters were supposed to want the same things didn’t mean they really did, especially Magda.

The Eldest Gabor

As the eldest of the Gabor Sisters, Magda had a slightly better grip on reality. Though she’d acted in a small Hungarian film before World War II, she soon fled Nazi-occupied Hungary with other pursuits in mind.

Multiple Soul Mates

It’s rumored that back in Hungary, Magda worked in underground movements to fight against the Nazis. By the time she made it to the United States, however, she had one goal in mind: To marry rich...and she succeeded — many, many times.

Happily Ever Afters

Perhaps the Gabor Sisters are most famous for their serial marriages, Magda included. By 1997, Magda had married and either been widowed or divorced six times. Her little sister, Eva, had somewhat better luck in love and in Hollywood. 

Baby of the Family

From the get-go, Eva was the sister with the most passion for acting. Alongside her first husband, Eva moved to Hollywood in 1939 with stars in her eyes, and she nabbed a few roles in B-movies. Still, it wasn’t her career that initially caught the public’s eye. 


Despite the actress’ five marriages to men, rumors circulated that Eva was a closeted lesbian. Some believe that she had an affair with actress Marlene Dietrich, while others have speculated that her relationship with Merv Griffin was simply a way to hide both of their sexual preferences.

Acting Success

Eva’s fame grew when she scored the role of Lisa Douglas in Green Acres. Officially a TV star, she went on to voice roles in films like The Aristocats and The Rescuers, and she appeared on stage too. Even with her career success, however, Eva was not the most famous Gabor sister. 

The Inimitable Zsa Zsa

Though she was the middle sister, Zsa Zsa was the hardest Gabor to ignore. Her movie-star good looks didn’t exactly translate to a movie-star career, but she still enjoyed extreme fame on TV and in the headlines. Like both her sisters, Zsa Zsa’s ultimate goal was to marry into royalty...

Extravagant Lifestyle

Which she tried to do, time and time again, by marrying rich. Of Zsa Zsa's nine husbands, it was her marriages to hotel magnate Conrad Hilton and actor George Sanders that brought her the most attention, along with her extravagant lifestyle and tastes.

Zsa Zsa's Addictions

Zsa Zsa was constantly in the tabloids because of her many TV appearances, but also because of her lavish — and controversial — life choices. She adored shopping, and amphetamine and barbiturate addictions only made her spending habits worse.

Bad Habits

Zsa Zsa seemed to be filled with bad habits, from drugs to shopping sprees to a coffee addiction (she reportedly drank up to 20 cups of coffee a day). She had a notorious temper that, allegedly, could only be eased by attention.

High Standards

The starlet’s unpredictable behavior came to a head in the ‘60s, when she was arrested not once but twice for assaulting a police officer. Legend has it that while she spent three days in jail, she refused to bathe in anything but bottled Evian water.

Her Ninth Marriage

“Being married to Zsa Zsa was like living on the slope of a volcano,” George Sanders once said of his ex-wife, and it’s this kind of non-stop excitement that made Zsa Zsa so compelling to watch. And by her 9th marriage, it seemed like she’d finally achieved her biggest goal.

Marrying Royalty

In 1986, Zsa Zsa married Frédéric von Anhalt — Prince Frédéric von Anhalt, to be exact. Jolie’s elation that one of her daughters finally married into royalty was short-lived, however, when Prince Frédéric’s shady past was revealed.

"Faux Prince of Bel Air"

Prince Frédéric von Anhalt wasn’t his real name. He had been adopted at the age of 36 by German royal Marie-Auguste of Anhalt, making him about as royal as Zsa Zsa herself. Known as the “faux prince of Bel Air,” Frédéric wasn’t exactly what Jolie had envisioned for her daughter.

Legendary Family

Nonetheless, Frédéric and Zsa Zsa were married for decades. Eva was the first Gabor Sister to pass away in 1995. Two years later, Magda and Jolie passed away. Zsa Zsa lived the longest, and died at the age of 99 in 2016. Still, the Sisters’ skyscraping fame remains...

Famous For Being Famous

The Gabors had a natural allure that transcended any fame they had as actresses, and they’re not the only classic stars who were famous for being famous. That said, there were some stars who had far more substance to them than anyone knew, including one of the Gabors' greatest rivals...

Early On

Before she became Jayne Mansfield, our leading lady was born Vera Jayne Palmer on April 19, 1933, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She spent her early childhood in New Jersey, where her dad was an attorney.


From a young age, she was inspired by Shirley Temple, and wanted to be a star. She had a high IQ and spoke Spanish and German; she also played violin and took singing and dance lessons, often performing on her front porch for passersby.

Firm Convictions

At age 13, she went to Hollywood with her mom for the first time. While not easily overwhelmed by the glitz and glamour, she did run into a radio star she admired. After she got his autograph, she told her mother, “One day people [will] be asking me for mine.”

Young Love

Palmer switched her last name for Mansfield early on, before starting her career. At age 16, she met Paul Mansfield at a Christmas party, and they were married at 17 — before she even left high school.

Education and Work

After high school, the couple moved to Austin, as Jayne was studying drama at the University of Texas. They needed a hefty bit of income to raise their baby, and Jayne took odd jobs to make ends meet — nude modeling one of them.


Jayne also worked with people often. She had a stint as a door to door salesperson, and another gig as a dance studio receptionist. Between the modeling and the customer service, she was building a skill set that'd serve her well.

Star Appeal

When not working, Mansfield entered in Austin beauty pageants. She won many, earning the crowns of Miss Magnesium Lamp, Miss Photoflash, and Miss Fire Prevention Week. She won two more, but turned the titles down: Miss Roquefort Cheese and Miss Prime Rib sounded too goofy.

Crowded House

These fledgling successes boosted her confidence, and she convinced Paul to move their little family to Los Angeles, where she could seriously pursue acting and Paul could work in a newspaper. They lived with Jayne's eight pets in an apartment in Van Nuys.

Hustling Hard

While auditioning for Warner Brothers and Paramount, Mansfield continued working odd jobs, such as a candy salesperson in a movie theater. She booked a modeling job for a General Electric photoshoot and was stoked — but then the rug was pulled out from under her.

Setback...Or Not

During the shoot, GE fired her…for being too sexy for their family-oriented brand. Although it was a harsh blow when it happened, she realized she had marketable potential for brands that were willing to take a risk, and a new path opened up for her.

Finding A Niche

Mansfield started going for shock value, pushing her sex appeal to the max in the conservative 1950s, and it was a successful tactic that got her a bigger platform. She soon became well-known for having wardrobe "malfunctions" at Hollywood social events.

Ups and Downs

Her star was rising, but her marriage suffered from Hollywood stress. Jayne and Paul split in 1955, but she kept his last name; that same year, she signed with Warner Brothers and starred as Rita Marlowe in the Broadway hit Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

Silver Screen

After the play’s astounding 444-show duration, movies were lined up waiting for Mansfield, and she had her pick of roles. During the late 1950s, she starred in The Girl Can’t Help ItKiss Them For MeIt Takes a Thief, and The Wayward Bus, which was her best acting work.

More Modeling

At the same time, Jayne was making waves in another industry — the pinup industry. She was Playmate of the Month for Playboy in February 1955, which definitely helped publicize her upcoming movies, as well as boost awareness with her male audience.


She didn’t regret the buzz Playboy brought her. Mansfield went on to appear in the magazine 29 more times, and continued making rounds in the tabloids for her “accidental exposure” scandals. In one year, she had more than 2,500 newspaper appearances.

Rocky Relationships

However, popular with readers though she was, Mansfield had a few high-profile enemies. Marilyn Monroe once publicly said of the lookalike star, “I know it’s supposed to be flattering to be imitated, but she does it so grossly…I wish I had some legal means to sue her.”

*That* Photo

Another of Mansfield’s iconic moments was cemented when she had a dinner with her fellow actress Sophia Loren. Though they ran in the same circles and were friendly to each other, Loren was caught giving a shady side-eye to Mansfield’s nearly-bursting cleavage.

Shifting Tides

In the early '60s, audiences’ needs changed. Pensive, down-to-earth stars were in demand, brought on by the frivolousness of the Vietnam War era, and Mansfield’s persona no longer fit in. By 1964, she also had three children, one of which would grow up to be SVU star Mariska Hargitay.

Pressing Onward

Mansfield continued to work to meet the demand of the times. She became the first American actress to appear nude onscreen, and she performed for a brief Las Vegas stint that was so well-received, Fox recorded it and released it as an album.

Lasting Impact

When Mansfield's life sadly ended in a fatal 1967 car crash, her legacy continued on, and even saves lives. New laws required a metal bar, dubbed the Mansfield bar, to be installed behind all tractor-trailers, preventing tragedies like hers to this day.

Missing Mom

Years later, Mariska Hargitay said the early loss of her mother left "a hole in my life that won't ever be filled. I will never get over it. I will always be a girl who lost her mom." Somehow, she found the strength to carry on.

Who Needs School?

Her mother's death spurred her toward an acting career, leading her to attend the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. By the end of her freshman year, Mariska had already secured an agent and several small roles, and she actually dropped out before finishing her degree to pursue acting full-time.

An Impressive Start

This wasn't exactly shot in the dark for the aspiring actress, as earlier that year she'd already been crowned Miss Beverly Hills USA and later competed for the title of Miss California USA. Though she wound up placing fifth, the exposure landed her in Ronnie Milsap's 1984 music video for "She Loves My Car."

Padding Her Resume

From there, Mariska made her film debut in the 1985 horror-comedy Ghoulies. With her first television role coming a year later on Downtown, the young star's rise to fame seemed almost effortless — in reality, it was the exact opposite.

Mom's Shadow

Mariska actually struggled mightily early on in her career, and it was all thanks to her famous mother. Everyone from casting directors to her fellow actors would constantly compare her to the late blonde bombshell, and some producers even suggested she dye her hair to look more like Jayne.

Things Are Looking Up

Mariska, however, was determined to make her own way in Hollywood, even if it meant taking forgettable roles on Falcon Crest, Tequila and Bonetti, and Can't Hurry Love. But with an appearance on the '90s phenomenon that was Seinfeld — no matter how brief — Mariska was clearly trending in the right direction.

On the Verge of a Breakthrough

Momentum continued to build for the second-generation star following a small role in the critically acclaimed 1995 film Leaving Las Vegas and a fill-in part in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie the same year. Then, in 1999, a casting call went out.

Better Than She Thought

The role was for the female lead in a spinoff of Dick Wolf's iconic Law & Order procedural: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Despite past experience playing police officers and detectives, Mariska was anxious about her chances, though following several rounds of auditions, she found herself among the three finalists.


For her final read-through she was paired with actor Christopher Meloni, with whom it was clear she had incredible chemistry. Dick Wolf seemed to think so, too, for as soon as the pair walked out of the room he blurted out, "Oh well. There's no doubt who we should choose – Hargitay and Meloni."

A Star is Born

And so, Mariska landed her career-defining role of Olivia Benson, lead detective and, later, commanding officer of the NYPD's Special Victims Unit. The part officially cemented Mariska as a top-tier talent, though dealing with such traumatic subject matter wasn't always an easy job.

More Than Just Acting

Despite the show's fictionalized nature, Mariska was forced to face topics such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, and she actually became a rape crisis advocate to prepare for the role of Det. Benson. Yet early on, Mariska realized she could use these experiences for good.

Making a Difference

"I started getting fan mail from survivors who felt a connection to Olivia. In many of these letters, people would disclose their personal stories of abuse—some for the very first time," she explained. "I wanted to help find a way to help people reclaim their lives and live them with a renewed sense of possibility and hope."

Using Fame For Good

That's why in 2004, Mariska founded the Joyful Heart Foundation, an organization designed to provide support for individuals who've experienced many of the same traumas depicted on SVU. Since then, the foundation has helped thousands of women and children escape abusive homes and has provided millions of dollars in funding for domestic violence shelters.

Finding Family

That same year, Mariska also wed actor Peter Hermann, a recurring guest star on SVU. The couple welcomed August Miklos Friedrich Hermann in 2006, and five years later, they adopted a baby girl named Amaya Josephine as well as a baby boy named Andrew Nicolas.

Tragedy Strikes Again

Sadly, Mariska's father only got to know his first grandson for a short time, as a month after her August 2006 Emmy win Mickey died from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. The loss of her last living parent was devastating, but, like always, Mariska used this tragedy as an opportunity.

Doing It All

She began working to raise awareness of multiple myeloma, eventually becoming an honorary board member director of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. She continues petitioning for the cause to this day, along with her extensive work in domestic violence prevention and promotion of the arts.

Behind the Scenes

And, of course, Mariska is still getting the job done as Captain Olivia Benson, a role she's played going on 21 years. Unsurprisingly, Mariska has some pretty crazy stories from over the course of those two decades, but she remains the show's front-running actress fighting crimes on the mean streets of New York with her own blend of compassion and strength.