Sylvia Kristel, Erotic Movie Star, Dies at Age 60

Celebrity News Oct. 18, 2012 AT 9:30AM
Sylvia Kristel at Midem in Cannes, France in 1976. Sylvia Kristel at Midem in Cannes, France in 1976. Credit: Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

Erotic film icon Sylvia Kristel -- who starred in the groundbreaking 1974 film Emmanuelle -- died Wednesday at age 60 following a long battle with cancer, her rep told the Associated Press.

The Dutch model-turned actress played a stunning young wife in the artful erotic film Emmanuelle, which chronicled her charater's erotic escapades in Thailand; an estimated 350 million people have since seen the film.

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One of the biggest movie stars to emerge from the Netherlands, with over 50 international films on her resume, she went on to star in sequels to Emmanuelle plus similarly erotic films like Lady Chatterly's Lover and Mata Hari.

When she made it to America -- and Hollywood -- Kristel succumbed briefly to drugs and alcohol.

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"I wish I could have skipped that part of my life," she admitted in a 2005 interview.

Of her daring choice of roles, she has said, "love dictated what I did," explaining that her partner, Belgian writer Hugo Claus, convinced her to do Emmanuelle.

When casting for the film, director Just Jaeckin was immediately taken with Kristel's beauty -- even though she had zero acting experience.

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"When I saw her face, I was thunderstruck," he said. "I saw a quantity of very beautiful girls." Then by chance he saw Kristel, who worked at the agency and was not in the casting call, and immediately knew ,'This is Emmanuelle.'"

She is survived by her partner, Peter Brul, and Arthur Kristel, her son with Claus.

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