Emmy-winning birthday celebrant Mariska Hargitay has played hard-driving lieutenant and commanding officer Olivia Benson on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit since 1999. But she’s descended from royalty—showbiz royalty, that is, of an offbeat kind. Her dad, Budapest-born Mickey Hargitay, was a bodybuilding “Mr. Universe” who, while touring with Mae West’s nightclub act, met the Marilyn Monroe-ish Jayne Mansfield, dubbed “The Blonde Bombshell.”
Hargitay made his film debut in her Hollywood highlight, the cult comedy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957). Other, lesser movies together and reams of tabloid notoriety followed their 1958 wedding, and they finally split in 1964, after divorcing in 1963. (Long story short, they found out Mansfield was pregnant with Mariska, their third child, after their breakup, but announced that they were still married to spare the actress the career-ending stigma of unwed motherhood. Loni Anderson and Arnold Schwarzenegger reenacted some of this drama in the 1980 TV movie The Jayne Mansfield Story.)
The car crash that ended Mansfield’s life in 1967, at age 34, spared Mariska and her two brothers, who were asleep in the back of the vehicle. Her dad and his third wife raised them, and, with Mariska having secured a very different kind of career, Hargitay’s final role was on a 2003 episode of SVU. “My dad was Mr. Universe, so it would be fun for me to be Miss Universe,” she quipped.
Here’s a look at other celebrities who’ve conquered the universe, with (and sometimes without) their famous parents by their side.
Kirk Douglas’ eldest son Michael had a TV hit with the cop show The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1976), but he made his first indelible mark in Hollywood as a producer, winning an Oscar for 1975’s Best Picture winner, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was awkward—Kirk had the rights to Ken Kesey’s novel, and intended to play asylum inmate Randle P. McMurphy himself, as he had on Broadway in 1963. But Michael felt he was too old, and eventually Kirk gave in, as Jack Nicholson went on to win the Oscar for the part. Kirk received an honorary Oscar in 1996, years after Michael won a second Academy Award, as actor, for Wall Street (1987). Kirk, Michael, Michael’s mother Diana, and Michael’s troubled son Cameron (currently imprisoned for drug offenses) appeared together in the 2003 comedy-drama It Runs in the Family.
Anjelica Huston's family tree is lined with Oscar gold—her grandfather, Walter, the character actor, and her father John, screenwriter and director, won Oscars for the classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). John, a free spirit marked as much by his absence as his presence in his daughter’s life, directed her in the 1969 flop A Walk with Love and Death, a confidence-crushing disaster for Anjelica. After finding her own success as a model and in other acting parts, Anjelica decided to try again with her father, with Prizzi’s Honor (1985)—another classic, and an Oscar win for her, making Anjelica the only recipient with a winning parent and grandparent. She recalled her subsequent film with her dad, his final credit The Dead (1987), as her happiest time with him.
Ben Stiller grew up on the road with his parents, comedians Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, and inherited their DNA. “If my parents were, like, plumbers, who knows what I would be doing?” he said. But they weren’t, and he went with the flow of his unconventional upbringing, eventually casting Stiller and Meara in some of his movies, like Zoolander (2001) and Night at the Museum (2006). “She was an extraordinary person,” Stiller said from Rome, where he was shooting Zoolander 2 last May when Meara died.
With husband Brad Pitt and their children, Angelina Jolie's Oscar-winning career as an actress and director, and her humanitarian work, Jolie has it all—except for much of a relationship with her Academy Award-winning father, actor Jon Voight. She was five when she appeared with him in his film Lookin’ to Get Out (produced in 1980, released in 1982) and on a career upswing when he co-starred in her Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001). But the periods before, between, and after the movie shoots were rocky, with Voight leaving her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, before she was one year old, Jolie accusing him of having affairs behind Bertrand’s back, and Voight saying she had “serious mental problems” in 2002. Healing began after Bertrand’s death in 2007, but the tabloids noted that he did not attend her wedding to Pitt two years ago.
Rashida Jones, the in-demand It woman of movies and TV (Parks and Recreation), is the daughter of composer Quincy Jones and Mod Squad and Twin Peaks co-star Peggy Lipton. “It was the 70s, and it was still not acceptable for them to be together,” she said of her parents’ mixed-race marriage, which ended in 1990 after 14 years. It was definitely not acceptable to rapper Tupac Shakur, who in 1993 made disparaging remarks about her father, his “white bitches” and “f**ked up kids” in The Source magazine. Seventeen-year-old Rashida forcefully called him out on his comments, reminding Shakur that Jones paved his way, and in time he became a family friend. Jones’ parents cameo in her latest show, the cop series spoof Angie Tribeca.
At 17, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith’s son Jaden is a showbiz veteran, who in 2006 co-starred with his father in the hit drama The Pursuit of Happyness. Their followup film, the sci-fi dud After Earth (2013), was unhappy, though Jaden has a sequel to his other success, The Karate Kid (2010), in the works. With his parents’ consent, Jaden was legally emancipated at age 15. Going his own way, his interest in fashion generated headlines and controversy when two weeks ago he appeared in gender-bending ads for Louis Vuitton womenswear.