Marisa Berenson

Vittoria Marisa Schiaparelli Berenson (born February 15, 1947) is an American actress and model.[1] She appeared on the front covers of Vogue and Time, and won the National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Natalia Landauer in the 1972 film Cabaret. The role also earned her Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominations.

Marisa Berenson
Berenson at the 2009 Venice Film Festival
Vittoria Marisa Schiaparelli Berenson

(1947-02-15) February 15, 1947
New York City, New York, United States
OccupationActress, model
Years active1967–present
James Randall
(m. 1976; div. 1978)

Aaron Richard Golub
(m. 1982; div. 1987)
RelativesElsa Schiaparelli
Berry Berenson
Anthony Perkins
Oz Perkins
Elvis Perkins

In 2001, she made her Broadway debut in the revival of Design for Living. Her other film appearances include Death in Venice (1971), Barry Lyndon (1975), S.O.B. (1981) and I Am Love (2009).

Early life

Berenson was born in New York City, the elder of two daughters. Her father, Robert Lawrence Berenson, was an American career diplomat turned shipping executive of Lithuanian Jewish descent, and his family's original surname was Valvrojenski.[2][3] Her mother was Maria-Luisa Yvonne "Gogo" Radha de Wendt Schiaparelli, a socialite of Italian, Swiss, French, and Egyptian ancestry.[1][4]


Berenson's maternal grandmother was the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli,[5][1] and her maternal grandfather was Wilhelm de Wendt de Kerlor, a theosophist and psychic medium.[4][6][7] Her younger sister, Berinthia, became a model, actress, and photographer as Berry Berenson.

She is also a great-grandniece of Giovanni Schiaparelli, an Italian astronomer who was the first to describe the so-called canals of Mars, and a second cousin, once removed, of art expert Bernard Berenson (1865–1959) and his sister Senda Berenson (1868–1954), an athlete and educator who was one of the first two women elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame.[8]


A fashion model discovered as a teenager by Vogue editor Diana Vreeland[1], who came to prominence in the 1960s ("I once was one of the highest paid models in the world", she told The New York Times), Berenson appeared on the cover of the July 1970 issue of Vogue as well as the cover of Time on December 15, 1975. She appeared in numerous fashion layouts in Vogue in the late 1960s and early 1970s[1] and her sister Berry was a photographer for the magazine as well. She was known as "The Queen of the Scene" for her frequent appearances at nightclubs and other social venues in her youth,[9] and Yves Saint Laurent dubbed her "the girl of the Seventies".[10][1]

Eventually, she was cast in several prominent film roles, including Gustav von Aschenbach's wife in Luchino Visconti's 1971 film Death in Venice; the Jewish department store heiress Natalia Landauer in the 1972 film Cabaret, for which she received acclaim (including two Golden Globe nominations, a BAFTA nomination and an award from the National Board of Review); and the tragic beauty Lady Lyndon in the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon (1975).[1] Vincent Canby of The New York Times stated of her performance: "Marisa Berenson splendidly suits her costumes and wigs."[11][12] She recalled her experience working under Kubrick's direction:

I liked him very much. He had a lot of dry humour. Contrary to what people think – they have this image of Stanley as this difficult ogre – he wasn’t at all. He was a perfectionist but every great director I’ve worked with has been a perfectionist. You have to be to make extraordinary films.[13]

Berenson appeared in a number of other movies including Casanova & Co. (1977), Killer Fish (1979), the Blake Edwards comedy S.O.B. (1981), The Secret Diary of Sigmund Freud (1984) and Clint Eastwood's White Hunter Black Heart (1990), as well as in made-for-TV movies in the United States, such as the Holocaust-themed drama Playing for Time (1980). She guest-hosted an episode of The Muppet Show during its third season in 1978.[14] She made her Broadway debut in the 2001 revival of Design for Living, which also starred Jennifer Ehle, Alan Cumming and Dominic West. In 2009, she appeared in the film I Am Love.

In August 2016 she appeared in a production of Romeo and Juliet at the Garrick Theatre in London, as Lady Capulet.[15]

Personal life

Berenson's first husband was James Randall, a rivet manufacturer[1]; they wed in Beverly Hills in 1976[16] and divorced in 1978. The couple have one daughter, Starlite Melody Randall (born 1977).[17]

Her second husband was Aaron Richard Golub, a lawyer, whom she married in 1982 and divorced in 1987. During the divorce proceedings, the judge ruled "the increased value of Ms. Berenson's acting and modeling career during the marriage were marital property" and therefore subject to consideration in any settlement agreements.[18][19][20][21]

On September 11, 2001, her younger sister and sole sibling, Berry Perkins, widow of actor Anthony Perkins, was killed in the first flight to hit the World Trade Center. Marisa was also in an airplane during the terrorist attacks, flying from Paris to New York. In an interview with CBS, she told of the experience and how hours later she landed in Newfoundland (flights were diverted to Canada), and was told of her sister's death by a phone call with her daughter.[1] Said Berenson: "I have hope and tremendous faith. I think that's what gets you through life ... through tragedies is when you have faith."[22]

Of her practice of Transcendental Meditation[1] she said:

India changed my life, because I was searching for my spiritual path, and I ended up in an ashram in Rishikesh with Maharishi and the Beatles. We’d sit on the floor at night, and George and Ringo would play the guitar, and we’d meditate all day, and have meals together, and become vegetarians, and live in huts. But it was just normal. It wasn’t like, "Oh, here are the Beatles." The most important thing was my transcendental meditation.[23]

Berenson lives in a villa on the outskirts of Marrakech.[1]


  1. Saner, Emine (October 30, 2019). "'I did the first nude in Vogue': Marisa Berenson on being a blazing star of the 70s and beyond: Interview". The Guardian. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  2. Berenson, Bernard (1949). Sketch for a Self-Portrait. Pantheon.
  3. "Robert L. Berenson, Ex-Envoy And Head of Shipping Line, Dies". The New York Times. February 3, 1965. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  4. Elsa Schiaparelli, Shocking Life, NY: Dutton, 1954
  5. Linda Greenhouse, "Schiaparelli Dies in Paris; Brought Color to Fashion", The New York Times, November 15, 1973
  6. Thurman, Judith (October 20, 2003). "Mother of Invention" via
  7. Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica entry Archived May 24, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Senda Berenson | Biography & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica.
  9. John Corry, "About New York", The New York Times, February 4, 1974
  10. Judy Klemesrud, "And Now, Make Room for the Berenson Sisters", The New York Times, April 19, 1973, p. 54
  11. Vincent Canby, Barry Lyndon review, New York Times, December 19, 1975
  12. "marisa berenson" via
  13. "Marisa Berenson on the making of Barry Lyndon: Kubrick wasn't a 'difficult ogre - he was a perfectionist'", Independent, July 13, 2016
  14. Video on YouTube
  15. Kellaway, Kate (July 24, 2016). "Marisa Berenson: 'Being directed by Branagh is an amazing adventure'" via
  16. "People, Nov. 22, 1976". November 22, 1976 via
  17. "Milestones, Nov. 21, 1977". November 21, 1977 via
  18. David Margolick, "Divorce Quandary: Is Fame Property?", New York Times, September 26, 1990
  19. Ronald Sullivan, "Her Fame Is Ruled His Too: Soprano Must Share Income", New York Times, July 3, 1991
  20. Joyce Wadler, "Public Lives: Still a Bad Boy, as a Lawyer and a Novelist", New York Times, April 7, 2000, B2:4
  21. "Claude Solnik, "Breaking up is even harder to do for celebrities", Long Island Business News, 20 January 2006". Archived from the original on February 15, 2009. Retrieved June 30, 2007.
  22. "48 Hours: And Then There Were 2". CBS. October 12, 2001.
  23. NY Times Chatting Up Marisa Berenson, Leslie Camhi, September 27, 2011, Retrieved Sept 2011
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