Hers was a life of almost fairy tale proportions. She was a granddaughter of the French couturier Elsa Schiaparelli. She was an intimate of Halston; a photographer for Glamour and Vogue; a model with Vermeer- blue eyes and golden hair; an actress; the sister of Marisa Berenson; the wife of Anthony Perkins; the mother of their two handsome boys.
But ask friends and family members what Berry Berenson Perkins was, and the answer comes to one word: angel.
"If there was ever a person who could be called a living angel, I think Berry was," said Gale Parker, a friend. Her sister, Marisa Berenson, used the word, too. "She touched everybody who met her," she said.
Mrs. Perkins, 53, was devoted to her two sons, Oz and Elvis. But she had experienced her share of pain, having nursed her husband for two years before his death in 1992.
Seven years ago, while visiting Jamaica, she met Albert Parchment, whom friends know as Coot. He was guarding the gate to a party, and she didn't have a ticket. She sneaked by, so he went for her and gave her a ticket. "We stayed up all night talking," he said. Then he took her back to her hotel and went home. "I couldn't wait for daylight to come to get to see her in the morning."
The two fell in love, and soon she was living between homes on Cape Cod and in Jamaica, where they ran a bar in Treasure Beach. After spending the summer on the Cape, she said goodbye to Mr. Parchment at the airport as he returned to Jamaica. Then she boarded American Airlines Flight 11 to see Elvis, a musician, perform in Hollywood.
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 31, 2001.
September 13, 2001
Berry Berenson Perkins, Photographer Known for Fashion, Dies at 53
By CATHY HORYN
Berry Berenson Perkins, a photographer and eclectic fashion plate of the 1970's before she settled into marriage with the actor Anthony Perkins, was killed on Tuesday, a passenger on American Airlines Flight 11, which was the first jetliner to strike the World Trade Center, a spokeswoman for the family said. She was 53.
She had been returning to her house in the Hollywood Hills from a family summer home on Cape Cod.
With her sister, Marisa, a widely known model of that era who became an actress, Ms. Perkins captured the attention of fashion editors and society columnists. Her photographs appeared in many magazines, including Glamour and Vogue, whose editor, Diana Vreeland, had known the sisters as girls and nicknamed them Mauretania and Berengaria, after the Cunard ocean liners.
Berinthia Berenson was born in New York, part of a seemingly charmed European family. The daughter of the late Robert L. Berenson, a United States Foreign Service officer, and Gogo Schiaparelli Berenson, Ms. Perkins was a granddaughter of the French couturier Elsa Schiaparelli. On her father's side, she was distantly related to Bernard Berenson, the art critic and collector. Ms. Perkins was educated in Switzerland, France and Italy, traveled widely and was introduced to the famous people in her mother's and grandmother's social world.
She met Mr. Perkins in the early 1970's in New York while he was filming "Play It As It Lays." By happenstance, her apartment was used for a scene in the movie, but she later said she had been in love with the actor since age 12. They were married in 1973, in Wellfleet, Mass., in a ceremony characterized by the informality (the barefoot bride wore a granny dress and carried wildflowers) that seemed to characterize much of their marriage.
In a 1977 interview in The New York Times, conducted while she and Mr. Perkins romped with their young sons, Osgood and Elvis, in their Manhattan home, Ms. Perkins said: "I'm so delighted with my life. I have this fabulous husband, the man I always wanted to marry. I have two fabulous children, which I always wanted, and we're all so happy."
Mr. Perkins died in 1992. Ms. Perkins spent the last two years of his life nursing him through AIDS-related illness, which he kept secret because of public paranoia about the disease.
In addition to her sister, of New York, Ms. Perkins is survived by her sons, both of Los Angeles, and her mother, the Marchesa Cacciapuoti di Giugliano, of Paris.
In an interview published in the most recent Fashions of the Times, she characterized herself as something of a peacemaker in a family of strong-willed women.
In recent years, Ms. Perkins spent time in Jamaica, where she ran a beachfront bar with her boyfriend. She also followed the careers of her sons. Osgood is an actor and Elvis an artist. While visiting New York in early July, she told friends she planned to see her sister and mother in Europe and then return to her Cape Cod cottage.
Editorial Obituary published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on September 13, 2001.