All Lotusland turned out for the wedding in 1976, when the Continental jet-setter-turned-movie star (and a granddaughter of famed Paris designer Elsa Schiaparelli) married the dashing young American tycoon. Scarcely 18 months later, however, Marisa (Barry Lyndon) Berenson, 31, and industrialist Jim Randall, 34, have busted up. It hardly surprised surveyors of Hollywood’s marital mudslides. Although Marisa envied and hoped to emulate the idyllic marriage of her sister, photographer Berry Berenson, to actor Tony Perkins, the Randalls were famous for their battles, including one reportedly on the eve of their nuptials.
This January Randall filed for no-fault divorce in Los Angeles, and the couple moved into a state of siege and countersiege. Berenson holed up in a guest room off the nursery with a maid and nanny to take care of 6-month-old Starlite Melodie. Randall retreated incommunicado to his wing and, Marisa claimed, set about having the locks changed in the six-servant Beverly Hills mansion. When Marisa’s friends came to take her to dinner (Randall was in Mexico at the time), she said that the guards at the gate refused to let them enter. Marisa hit the roof, called in the police and then went to court to get an injunction and restraining order.
Marisa charged that Randall “has an ungovernable temper. In the early part of January of 1978, while I was carrying our daughter in my arms, he grabbed me and pulled me across the room, bruising me, threatening that I would be in serious danger if I did not leave.” Berenson also claimed that her husband ordered the servants to pile dirty dishes outside her door and in the baby’s closet. Further, she said, he “discharged” the maid and butler with the understanding that they would tell everyone they were fired because of Berenson. (Randall, she said, promised to rehire them.) And, finally, she accused Randall, who already owns five cars, of absconding with the Rolls-Royce Corniche convertible he gave her for Christmas last year. The restraining order was granted though Randall denies everything.
The domestic discord has also had career repercussions for Berenson, who was scheduled to portray Gone with the Wind star Vivien Leigh in the film version of Anne Edward’s best-selling biography. Trouble is, Randall is co-producing the movie with Hollywood impresario Allan Carr. Despite an estimated $10,000 already spent photographing Berenson as Leigh, Randall and Carr have dropped Marisa and are scouting for a replacement.
Frankly, Berenson doesn’t seem to give a damn. After taking Starlite Melodie to Paris to visit Grandma, the Marchesa Cacciapuoti de Guiliano, Marisa jetted to the Brazilian coast near Rio. There she is filming a Carlo Ponti adventure flick, Naked Sun, with three co-stars also in need of career rehabilitation: Lee Majors, Margaux Hemingway and Karen Black.
Once Marisa finishes in Rio, she will return to rented digs in Beverly Hills and begin sifting through five more movie offers. “It’s never an easy thing,” Berenson says of the divorce, “but I have a wonderful child, I’m back at work and I feel fine. Difficult experiences are a source of strength. It’s all just one of life’s lessons.”