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Ritesh Batra on Photograph


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Beauty Break: Marisa Berenson

Happy 67th birthday to Marisa Berenson. This New York born multilingual beauty, originally a model, has been around forever and in key films, too. Her film career couldn't sustain its major start but few careers could have. Consider that in her first decade acting she made  Death in Venice (1971), Cabaret (1972), Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon (1975) and Blake Edwards S.O.B. (1981). Tough acts to follow, no? She was never prolific, opting for the occasional TV guest spot and films here and there in various countries, but that face -- memorable and impossibly beautiful.

According to IMDb she was rumored for a Vivien Leigh biopic in the 1970s (and wouldn't that be both a challenge and a coup for the right actress?) but the film sadly never materialized. 

More of the impossible beauty [nsfw] of Marisa Berenson after the jump...

with Tilda on the set of I Am Love

We most recently saw Berenson pop up in a surprising and perfect supporting part in the masterful I Am Love (2010) as Tilda Swinton's chilly sunglass-wearing mother-in-law and I had the pleasure of seeing her live at the Cabaret anniversary screening here in NYC last year with Liza (supposedly they're best friends), Michael York, and Joel Grey all in attendance.

in Barry Lyndon (1975)in Cabaret (1972)
Marisa and her sister, via director Joel Schumacher


Photographed by Tom FordPhotographed by Michael Holtz
photographed by Irving Penn in 1971she recreates the photo in 2011 for a new photographer

and supermodel Christy Turlington made up to look like Marisa Berenson by makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin


And thanks to Mike for reminding me of one of my all time favorite Muppet Show skits when I was a child. Starring Marisa Berenson. Enjoy...

WHAT'S NEXT? She has two more pictures in the can though we have no idea when we'll see them. One is a French musical called Opium (2013) and the other a new Emma Thompson picture, Love Punch (2014), from the director of the underrated romantic drama Last Chance, Harvey (2008). 

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Reader Comments (13)

She did a goofy number on the Muppet Show called You're Always a Welcome at My House and it freaked me the hell out when I was little. She basically has a house of full of traps for kidnapping guests.

Needless to say I've nursed a minor obsession with her ever since. Love her in Cabaret.

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMike in Canada

Mike -- OMG. that was her? I'm adding it to the post. I loved that so much as a kid. somehow i had never connected it to her.

February 15, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I love the Muppet bit...thanks so much for sharing. Brings back many good memories:)

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJans

I'm sure she was close to an Oscar nom for Cabaret. She was so great. Contemplating watching that again. One of my favorite films and I haven't seen it in a good while.

If they ever make a biopic for her or have one where she makes a cameo, Vera Farmiga resembles her I think.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPhilip H.

That is Christy Turlington in the first picture. She was made up to look like Marisa by Kevyn Aucoin. You should see Martha Stewart as Veronica Lake. That man was a genius.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTy

Christy Turlington is gorgeous. <3

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMariah Carey

What does Team Film Experience have to say about Barry Lyndon? (Next year is its 40th anniversary!)

I tried to watch it once many years ago and lost patience with its glacial pace and Ryan O'Neal's wooden acting. But it's a film I've always felt that I should give another chance --- never more than now, looking at Marisa in that wig.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSan FranCinema

sanfran -- yeah that is like one of the all time great best picture lineups so it would be fun to revisit that year.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Ty -- thanks for the correction. duly noted.

February 16, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Oh Marisa in I Am Love u gr8 role and perforMAnce but hell isn't everything Tilda touches GOLD.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermrripley

Being in a Visconti movie must've been so cool.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Impossibly beautiful. I find her fascinating to watch.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Barry Lyndon was made in the period where Kubrick thought actors were distracting from the directors work, and good actors were especially irritating, always wanting to add something (like emotional depth). Kubrick wanted just painterly surface for this movie, so he hired an actor that he didn't think was very good (Ryan O'Neal) so he wouldn't get in the way of the director's vision. He hired Marisa Berenson because she was so beautiful, but kept taking her lines away from her. In the finished film, she has about 17 words?

The book Barry Lyndon is actually full of lively characters and narrative (and has a point).

I always liked reading about Marisa Berenson's fascinating family. She and her sister Berry were granddaughters of the famous Italian designer Elsa Shiaparelli. Berry, who died in 9/11, married the actor Anthony Perkins. The legendary art critic, Bernard Berenson, was their cousin.

February 16, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

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