30 December 2008

Of pedigrees and puppets

Elsa Schiaperelli
Gogo Schiaparelli

Marisa Berenson was 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.

Her maternal grandmother was the Italian-born 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 was a great-grand-niece of Giovanni Schiaparelli, an Italian astronomer who believed he had discovered the supposed canals of Mars, and 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.

Oh to think of a time when one could be granddaughter to a couturier and a medium and when Jim Henson's progeny were still totally weird and the clouds didn't always need to be swept away.

7 comments:

Paul Pincus said...

i knew berry berenson. really terrific post.

jezebel said...

No way! As a photographer?

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