Monday, September 18, 2006

So Goes The Crimson Executioner

Actor and bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay, seen here with his wife Jayne Mansfield, has passed away at the age of 80. The beautiful couple were married for six years, during which time they had three children. One of them, daughter Mariska, grew up to become an actress who recently won an Emmy award for her role as Detective Olivia Benson on LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT.

Hargitay was a former Mr. Universe who got into show business around 1955 when he was hired as beefcake for Mae West's stage act. Several years later--and after he and Mansfield were married--Mickey returned to his native Europe to star in a series of muscleman adventure movies like HERCULES AND THE HYDRA and REVENGE OF THE GLADIATORS.

His best-known movie is probably BLOODY PIT OF HORROR, a colorful, sick and entertaining thriller in which Hargitay stars as the Crimson Executioner, a nut who believes himself to be the reincarnation of a 17th century sadist in a mask and red tights. He kidnaps models posing for sexy photos in an old castle, and tortures and kills them. The dubbing is terrible, but this weird film is never boring.

Hargitay and Mansfield divorced in 1964, and she was killed three years later in a much-publicized car accident. Mickey continued to occasionally act, but made his last feature in 1973. He wasn't hurting for dough, however. He invested his income from acting and bodybuilding wisely, and became a rich man in real estate.

He also was a great influence on Arnold Schwarzeneggar, who came to the United States in 1968 with a dream of following in his hero's footsteps as a bodybuilder and actor. I remember seeing one of Schwarzeneggar's earliest acting roles, ironically portraying Hargitay in the 1980 made-for-TV movie THE JAYNE MANSFIELD STORY opposite Loni Anderson.

The Hungarian-born Hargitay died last Thursday of multiple myeloma. His last acting performance was a small role with daughter Mariska in a L&O: SVU episode, his first performance in 30 years. I'm sure he was a proud papa that day.

1 comment:

Unco said...

Myeloma is a rare cancer of the bone marrow. I wonder how long Mickey had this disease? It wasn't publicized. I do know that Mariska expressed an interest in helping the International Myeloma Foundation a year or two ago, but nothing ever came of it.