Remembering one of London’s great ladies, Marisa Masters
Though born in Italy, Marisa Masters undoubtedly adopted London as her home and wherever she went this pint-sized, sociable sort brought colour to any occasion.
Twice married and a mother of three, Marisa lived by her favourite saying – “Life is beautiful” – and was famed for wearing yellow kaftans and bright amber. She owned the first and quite possibly the worst parked Smart car in Britain, bought a Mustang from Princess Margaret and won a Porsche in a raffle at Harrods. Asked by Mohamed Al-Fayed to come forward to claim it, Marisa asked: “What is a Porsche?” to the great amusement of those present. She chose not to keep the vehicle and returned the keys within days.
In the mid-2000s, Marisa hosted a lunch for Eugenio Sbarbaro, the then Apostolic Nuncio to Serbia, in her palatial home at 11-12 Walton Place in Knightsbridge. Earlier that morning, she had had a difference opinion with a maid who worked for her and had sent her away. During the lunch, where guests also included such people as Father Michael Seed, this individual returned to collect her possessions in the company of the police. Marisa, whose encounters with officers of the law generally related to incidents with her beloved Smart, informed her “friends” that they were not a taxi service and handed each of them a bunch of flowers. Always one to use humour to best effect, everyone – the maid included – left with smiles on their faces.
Born into a large family in Barri, Italy in 1925 and the daughter of an opera impresario, Marisa was never afraid to share her views on any subject. Often to be found in the Bluebird on the Kings Road, this nonagenarian loved art, cigarettes, Sambuca and sunflowers. She had, however, little time for the royal family and politicians and once even entered a bullring during a bullfight in Spain. The bull, Marisa recounted, “behaved himself impeccably”.
Marisa Olga Masters – née Marisa Lassandro – was born on 25th November 1925 and passed away aged ninety on the Queen’s ninetieth birthday, 21st April 2016. She is survived by her daughters and grandchildren. Marisa will be fondly remembered and missed by many and now, we can report, another sunflower is blossoming in the sky.
A selection of pictures of Marisa with friends follows:
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