Emmanuelle actress Sylvia Kristel dies in Netherlands after fight with cancer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 October, 2012, 5:23am


Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, whose iconic Emmanuelle role symbolised the sexual revolution of the 1970s and who spent years fighting drug addiction, has died aged 60 after a battle with cancer.

"She died during the night in her sleep," agent Marieke Verharen of Features Creative Management said of the actress, who had been admitted to an Amsterdam hospital in July following a stroke.

Kristel was catapulted to fame in 1974 by Emmanuelle, her first movie, which described the erotic adventures of a young woman in Asia. A worldwide success, it was shown in one cinema, on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, for 13 years.

The first Emmanuelle film was seen by at least 350 million people at cinemas, Dutch media reported, saying she lured moviegoers with her "natural erotic attraction" and made "soft-core pornography acceptable".

A series of sequels followed, also starring Kristel, with Emmanuelle 2 in 1975, Goodbye Emmanuelle in 1977 and Emmanuelle 4 in 1984.

The actress went on to play in a string of other risqué films, including a nudity-filled 1985 portrayal of first world war spy Mata Hari.

Kristel was born on September 28, 1952, in Utrecht, where her parents ran a hotel near the train station. She relates in her autobiography how she was sexually abused at age nine by the hotel's manager.

Her parents sent her at age 11 to a religious boarding school, where she was described as a gifted pupil. But when she was 17, she turned to a career in modelling, appearing in and winning the Miss TV Europe competition in 1973.

Following that success, French director Just Jaeckin chose her to play the title role in Emmanuelle, which would become one of the biggest ever French box-office successes.

She played in several non-erotic films but was then forced to act in Emmanuelle sequences because of contractual obligations. She soon became typecast in erotic roles, and admitted to taking parts in the 1980s simply to make money to feed her expensive cocaine habit.