ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION

Mariska Hargitay: Lead actress in a drama

Claim to fame: Her tough-as-nails detective role as Olivia Benson on "Law & Order: SVU." Did you know: Before she started collecting Emmy nominations for "SVU" in 2004 (she won in 2006), she took a string of mostly television jobs. Hargitay, the daughter of actress Jayne Mansfield and body-builder Mickey Hargitay, made an unforgettable appearance on "Baywatch" in 1989 as a rebellious rich girl dead set on dating a lifeguard. A few years later she was cast in "The Pilot" episode of "Seinfeld." Not the actual pilot, but the show about themselves that Jerry and the gang were pitching during the fourth season. Hargitay's character tried out for the part of Elaine, who, of course, was played by Emmy winning actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Other credits: She spent a season on the soap "Falcon Crest" as Carly Fixx, a girl who is in love with her step-brother, and later took a guest starring role on "Ellen." Mike Myers also had fun with the actress' name in "The Love Guru," using "Mariska Hargitay" in place of a traditional Hindu greeting. NBC
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