Born in Budapest, Hungary on January 6, 1926 to parents who were in show business in Europe, Miklos "Mickey" Hargitay came to the US in the early 1950s. An accomplished bodybuilder, Hargitay entered the Mr. America and Mr. World competitions in the early 1950s and won the NABBA Mr. Universe in 1955, five years after Steve Reeves won the title.

Mickey HargitayMickey HargitayMickey Hargitay

Physique photos, taken around the time Hargitay won the 1955 Mr. Universe title. You'll find more photos like these in the Mickey Hargitay Gallery

Hargitay's show business career heated up when he was discovered by Mae West, who added him to her cast of bodybuilders in the 'Mae West Revue,' a 1950s precursor of male stripper shows, along with Brad Harris, Gordon Mitchell, and Reg Lewis. As rumor has it, Jayne Mansfield was in New York rehearsing for Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? when she first saw Mickey Hargitay in West's revue in 1956. As the story goes, a waiter asked Mansfield what she'd like that evening, and her reply was, "I'll have a steak and the man on the left!" Estranged from her first husband for several years, after Mansfield's divorce they were married in January 1958.

Mickey Hargitay and Jayne MansfieldMickey Hargitay and Jayne MansfieldMickey Hargitay and Jayne MansfieldMickey Hargitay and Jayne MansfieldMickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield

LEFT: Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield in Europe in the late 1950s. CENTER A: Hargitay with Jayne Mansfield and her daughter, Jayne Marie, in 1958. CENTER B: Photo from their late 1950s nightclub act. RIGHT: Around the time of their 1958 marriage

While Hargitay was never strictly a sword and sandal actor, he did make one film as Hercules, in the 1960 classic The Loves of Hercules (aka Hercules vs. the Hydra with Jayne Mansfield. Hargitay makes a exceptionally good Hercules and was one of the only actors to not sport a beard for the part. Mansfield portrays both a good queen (in a black wig) and an evil queen (in a red wig). Mickey brings the beefcake and Jayne brings the camp to this dubbed Italian spectacle. The dubbing, in fact, makes the film unintentionally hilarious to fans of Hargitay and Mansfield. Nevertheless, the action in The Loves of Hercules is very engaging, and the film is a solid entry in the sword and sandal genre. The couple also acted together in Promises! Promises! (1963; with Marie McDonald and Tommy Noonan) and Primitive Love (1964; with Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia). But around the time of the latter movie's release, after six years of marriage, three children, and several films together, the couple divorced in Mexico in May 1963 but reconciled shortly thereafter, but Mansfield had the divorce declared valid in California in August 1964, just months after the birth of their daughter, actress Mariska Hargitay.

Nick Adams, Mickey Hargitay, and Joe Louis

Early 1960s photo of Nick Adams, Hargitay, and Joe Louis

Hargitay continued his acting career throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. His best-known film is probably Bloody Pit of Horror, an interesting horror film that contains some shockingly gruesome scenes given the period during which it was made. Hargitay portrays Travis Anderson, a reclusive former actor turned sinister murderer who systematically tortures and kills a bevy of dimestore-novel cover models who come to his castle, uninvited, for a photo shoot.

the films of mickey hargitay

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

Mickey Hargitay

A photo taken during the production of Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, Hargitay's first film

The Loves of Hercules, aka Hercules Vs. the Hydra (1960)

Mickey HargitayMickey Hargitay

LEFT: Screen capture from The Loves of Hercules (thanks to Dan). RIGHT: The Loves of Hercules poster

Promises! Promises! (1963)

Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield

With Jayne Mansfield in the sex comedy Promises! Promises!

Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)

Mickey HargitayMickey HargitayMickey HargitayMickey HargitayMickey HargitayMickey Hargitay

Bloody Pit of Horror is probably Hargitay's best known film today, and his over-the-top performance as the mad executioner has transformed the film into a cult classic. LEFT and CENTER A: Hargitay in a dual role as Travis Anderson. CENTER B: Lobby card. CENTER C and D: Hargitay camps it up as the Crimson Executioner. RIGHT: The Crimson Executioner hauls away another victim

Stranger in Sacramento (1965)

Mickey Hargitay and Barbara Frey<

With Barbara Frey in the spaghetti western Stranger in Sacramento

Spree (1967)

Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield<

Spree was a low-budget documentary about Las Vegas shot primarily in 1962 and 1963. Also pictured is Jayne Mansfield. This film was released just a few days before Mansfield's death

Lady Frankenstein (1971)

Mickey HargitayMickey HargitayMickey Hargitay and Rosalba Neri

From the campy Italian horror movie Lady Frankenstein. LEFT and CENTER: Hargitay as Captain Harris. RIGHT: With Rosalba Neri

later years

Jayne Mansfield was killed in a car crash in late June 1967. Afterward, Mickey Hargitay raised their three children. He married his third wife, Ellen, a former flight attendant, in April 1968. By the early 1970s, Hargitay abandoned his acting career for a thriving career in contracting and landscaping. His last films include the horror pictures Delirium (1972; with Rita Calderoni), Lady Frankenstein (1972; with Joseph Cotten), and Black Magic Rites (1973; with Rita Calderoni). His final acting job was on his daughter's (Mariska Hargitay) hit series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in November 2003. Sadly, after a long illness Mickey Hargitay passed away on September 14, 2006, at the age of 80. He was survived by his wife, two daughters, two sons, a stepdaughter, and grandchildren.

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Mr. Universe (1988) with Mariska Hargitay
Black Magic Rites (1973) with Rita Calderoni
Delirium (1972) with Rita Calderoni
Cool Million (1972) with James Farentino, Jackie Coogan, and Barbara Bouchet
Lady Frankenstein (1971) with Joseph Cotten and Rosalba Neri
Ringo, It's Massacre Time (1970)
The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield (1968) with Jayne Mansfield
Cjamango (1967) with Ivan Rassimov and Helene Chanel
Spree (1967) [aka Las Vegas by Night] with Jayne Mansfield, Juliet Prowse, and Vic Damone
7 Golden Women Against Two 07 (1966) with Maria Vincent
The Sheriff Won't Shoot (1965)
3 Bullets for Ringo (1965) with Gordon Mitchell
Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) with Walter Brandi
Stranger in Sacramento (1965) with Barbara Frey
Revenge of the Gladiators (1964)
Primitive Love (1964) with Jayne Mansfield and Franco and Ciccio
Promises! Promises! (1963) with Jayne Mansfield, Marie McDonald, and Tommy Noonan
Hercules Vs. the Hydra (1960) with Jayne Mansfield, Massimo Serato, and Moira Orfei
Slaughter on Tenth Avenue (1957) with Richard Egan, Jan Sterling, and Julie Adams
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957) with Jayne Mansfield and Tony Randall

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, episode Control, originally aired November 18, 2003
The Wild Wild West, episode The Night of the Fugitives, originally aired November 8, 1968
This Is Your Life, episode Jayne Mansfield, originally aired December 18, 1960
The Steve Allen Show, episode The Movie Premiere of 'Can-Can', originally aired March 14, 1960


Visit the Mickey Hargitay Gallery at Brian's Drive-in Theater

Other Hercules Heroes
Go to the Other Hercules Heroes page, featuring Peter and David Paul, Paul Wynter, Richard Lloyd, and Pierre Brice.

Mickey Hargitay Plants
One of Los Angeles' premiere nurseries, Mickey Hargitay Plants has a 1,500-square-foot greenhouse, which is home to a wide selection of indoor and outdoor tropical plants, big and small. With more than twenty five years' experience, owner, Mickey Hargitay and manager, Keith Ikemoto, will help you find exactly what you're looking for. Or ask friendly Javier for help. They're all happy to give tips on caring for your plants so you can enjoy them for years to come.

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Watch Mickey Hargitay's 1965 horror flick Bloody Pit of Horror

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This page premiered April 3, 1998.
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