Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, known for her roles in the erotic Emmanuelle films, has passed away at age 6o. She died in her sleep Wednesday night in Amsterdam. She reportedly had been fighting throat cancer for several years and had suffered a stroke over the summer.
EOnline explains that Emmanuelle starring the former model as the title character was the first softcore movie to go mainstream and became an international box office hit and is now considered a cult film:
“The actress was just 22 years old when she shot to fame in the 1974 French hit Emmanuelle, which told the story of a restless housewife and her sexual escapades in Thailand. The film was notable for being one of the first erotic films to be shown in mainstream theaters, even though it was slapped with an X rating in the U.K.”
AFP describes the appeal of Sylvia Kristel:
“With her short-cropped hair, innocent features and slender frame, she lured movie-goers with her ‘natural erotic attraction’ and made ‘soft-core pornography acceptable,’ Dutch media said.”
Kristel starred in several Emmanuelle sequels and appeared in about 50 films overall. The L.A. Times reports that upon arrival in Hollywood, “she sank into a world of drink and drugs.” She also found herself typecast in erotic roles over the course of her career.
Sylvia Kristel admitted, according to the L.A. Times, that her then-boyfriend convinced her to take the role in Emmanuelle, and the rest was history:
“He said, ‘Thailand, that’s nice, we’ve never been there and anyway the film will never come out in the Netherlands so you won’t put your mother to shame’ Kristel said. ‘In the end, 350 million people saw it worldwide.’ “
Sylvia Kristel reportedly was a heavy smoker for most of her life.
[Image credit: Gabrielle Kluiters]