Marisa Berenson (born February 15, 1947 in New York City, New York) is an American actress and model.
Marisa Berenson is the elder daughter of Robert L. Berenson, an American diplomat turned shipping executive, who was of Lithuanian Jewish descent; his family's original surname was Valvrojenski. Her mother was born Countess Maria Luisa Yvonne Radha de Wendt de Kerlor, better known as Gogo Schiaparelli
, a socialite of Italian, Swiss, French, and Egyptian ancestry.
Berenson's maternal grandmother was the fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and her maternal grandfather was Count Wilhelm de Wendt de Kerlor, a Theosophist and psychic medium. Her younger sister, Berinthia, became the model, actress, and photographer Berry Berenson. She also is a great-grand-niece of Giovanni Schiaparelli, an Italian astronomer who believed he had discovered the supposed canals of Mars, a great-grand-niece 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.
She was educated in England at Heathfield St Mary's School.
A fashion model who came to prominence in the early 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 15 December 1975
. She was known as "The Queen of the Scene" for her frequent appearances at nightclubs and other social venues in her youth, and Yves Saint Laurent
dubbed her "the girl of the Seventies".
Eventually she was cast in several prominent film roles, including Tadzios mother 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 some 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 1975 Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon. Though the last role has been her most well known, the reviews of her performance were lackluster; Vincent Canby of The New York Times merely stated, "Marisa Berenson splendidly suits her costumes and wigs.
Berenson has appeared in a number of other movies, most of them filmed in Europe, as well as in made-for-TV movies in the United States, such as the Holocaust-themed drama Playing for Time (1980). She also guest hosted an episode of The Muppet Show during its third season in 1978.
In the early 1970s, Berenson was the companion of the French banking heir Baron David René de Rothschild, the younger son of Baron Guy de Rothschild.
Berenson's first husband was James Randall, a rivet manufacturer. They married in Beverly Hills, California, in 1976and divorced in 1978. They have one daughter, Starlite Melody Randall (born 1977).
Her second husband was Aaron Richard Golub, a lawyer, whom she married in 1982 and divorced in 1987. In the divorce proceedings, the judge ruled that "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.
On September 11, 2001 Marisa's sister Berry was killed in the first flight to hit the World Trade Center. In a strange coincidence, at the same time as her sister's death Berenson was flying from Paris to New York. In an interview she did with CBS a couple of weeks after the event, she told of the experience and how hours later she landed in Newfoundland, and was told of her sister's death by a phone call with her daughter.
"I hope she didn't suffer. It's hard to take in. I have hope and tremendous faith. I think that's what gets you through life...through tragedies is when you have faith." Marisa Berenson on the death of her sister Berry Berenson in the Sept. 11th attacks.