Marisa Berenson


Actor

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
February 15, 1947

Biography

The tall, attractive, glamorous Berenson sometimes seemed to be more famous for her status as an international figure of beauty and a member of the jet set than for her screen appearances. Yet she was a serious actress who was often consigned to decorative parts in American productions while international films gave her better opportunities. There was always society column interest in B...

Family & Companions

James Randall
Husband
Business developer. Divorced.
Richard Golub
Husband
Lawyer. Divorced.

Biography

The tall, attractive, glamorous Berenson sometimes seemed to be more famous for her status as an international figure of beauty and a member of the jet set than for her screen appearances. Yet she was a serious actress who was often consigned to decorative parts in American productions while international films gave her better opportunities.

There was always society column interest in Berenson and her sister, Berry, as they were the granddaughters of designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and the grand-nieces of art historian Bernard Berenson (some sources insist they are merely cousins). Berenson's face often graced the pages of VOGUE and in one memorable fashion spread she recreated the famous Josephine Baker jungle woman photo, wearing little more than a belt made of hanging bananas. A shy woman despite her pedigree, Berenson was first seen on film as the woman lost by Dirk Bogarde in "Death in Venice" (1970). She gained recognition in portraying Natalie Landauer, the Jewish department store heiress who comes to Liza Minnelli first for English lessons, then sexual advice, in Bob Fosse's "Cabaret" (1972). In 1975, she was Ryan O'Neal's wife in Stanley Kubrick's visually-stunning "Barry Lyndon" (1975), but subsequent roles in English-language films tapered off and Berenson was more often seen in newspapers and magazines with her friend Diane von Furstenberg, and with Andy Warhol, as well as the Studio 54 and Regine's set. Her marriage to Jimmy Randall was covered extensively by Rona Barrett as well as by Warhol.

Yet, Berenson wanted to act. She appeared on stage in Williamstown and Los Angeles in Philip Barry's "Holiday" in 1980, playing a slightly spoiled heiress. Berenson often turned to TV in the USA for the chance to work more frequently. She was one of the Polish members of the Auschwitz band in "Playing for Time" (CBS, 1980). Berenson appeared in an episode of "Who's the Boss?" (ABC), as an executive who romances Tony. She even appeared in an "ABC Afterschool Special."

By the 90s, Berenson was based in Paris and, with demise of the social whirl of which she had been identified in America, her name was less frequently in the columns. Oddly, or perhaps, ironically, this seemed to give her career a boost. She was cast by Clint Eastwood in "White Hunter, Black Heart" (1990) in a role vaguely based on Katharine Hepburn, played a key role in the Arts & Entertainment six-part 1991 series, "The Hollywood Detective" and was the villainous Katarina in the 1992 Lifetime remake of "Notorious." Berenson also began acting in French and even Dutch films; in 1995 she was Mrs. Schweitzer in "Le Grand blanc de Lambarene," a French biopic about Albert Schweitzer, the French-Alsatian physician who devoted his life to working in the Gabon hinterlands. Two years later, she had a cameo as a wealthy woman who offers a ride to "Tonka," an Indian refuge in France, and played a Sapphic hairdresser in "Elles/Women."

Life Events

1971

Film debut in "Death in Venice"

1972

Co-starred as Jewish heiress in "Cabaret"

1980

TV acting debut, "Tourist"

1980

Made L.A. stage debut in "Holiday" at the Ahmanson Theater

1986

TV miniseries debut, "Sins"

1991

Co-starred in "Hollywood Detective" series (A&E)

1995

Played Mrs. Albert Schweitzer in "Le Grand blanc de Lambarene"

1997

Co-starred in "Elles/Women" (released in USA in 1999)

2001

Acted in the Broadway revival of "Design for Living"

2007

Co-starred in "Colour Me Kubrick," the true story of a man who posed as director Stanley Kubrick

Videos

Movie Clip

Barry Lyndon (1975) - First Love Director Stanley Kubrick’s initial exercise in natural, period (non-electrical) lighting in an interior scene, and also the first appearance of star Ryan O’Neal, Gay Hamilton his alluring cousin, Michael Hordern’s caustic narration from the William Makepeace Thackeray novel, early in Barry Lyndon, 1975.
Barry Lyndon (1975) - I'm Not Sorry Deliberate staging by director Stanley Kubrick, spineless British Captain Quin (Leonard Rossiter) in his duel with the headstrong Irish hero (Ryan O’Neal), who won’t be dissuaded by friendly officer Grogan (Godfrey Quigley), Academy Award-winning Cinematography by John Alcott, in Barry Lyndon, 1975.
Barry Lyndon (1975) - Married To Brown Bess The title character (Ryan O’Neal) has hidden himself within the British army, in the belief that he’s wanted for killing an officer in a duel, his ally Grogan (Godfrey Quigley), arriving to explain what really happened back home in Ireland, director Stanley Kubrick using only candlelight, in Barry Lyndon, 1975.
Barry Lyndon (1975) - A Woman Of Great Fortune Over an hour into the film, director Stanley Kubrick introduces second-billed Marisa Berenson as the Countess Of Lyndon, Frank Middlemass her invalid husband, Murray Melvin her aide, the Reverend Runt, attracting the now jaded European-adventurer hero, Ryan O’Neal, in Barry Lyndon, 1975.
White Hunter Black Heart - The Dangerous Life At a Hollywood club, big names gather before shooting for the thinly-veiled The African Queen, George Dzundza modeled on producer Sam Spiegel, Clint Eastwood (also directing) on John Huston, Jeff Fahey on writer Peter Viertel, Marisa Berenson on Hepburn, Richard Vanstone and Jamie Koss on Bogart and Bacall, in White Hunter Black Heart, 1990.

Trailer

Family

Elsa Schiaparelli
Grandmother
Fashion designer.
Bernard Berenson
Great-Uncle
Art historian.
Berry Berenson
Sister
Born c. 1948; married to Anthony Perkins from 1973 until his death in September 1992; killed when terrorists hijacked the plane on which she was a passenger and crashed it into NYC's World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
Starlite Randall
Daughter
Born in November 1977.

Companions

James Randall
Husband
Business developer. Divorced.
Richard Golub
Husband
Lawyer. Divorced.

Bibliography