Sylvia Kristel

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Sylvia Kristel
Sylvia Kristel (1973).jpg
Sylvia Kristel in 1973
Sylvia Maria Kristel

(1952-09-28)28 September 1952
Utrecht, Netherlands
Died17 October 2012(2012-10-17) (aged 60) [1]
The Hague, Netherlands [2]
Burial placeUtrecht, Netherlands [3]
OccupationActress, model, memoirist
Years active1973–2010

Sylvia Maria Kristel (28 September 1952  17 October 2012) [4] was a Dutch model and actress who appeared in over 50 films. She is best remembered as the eponymous character in five of the seven Emmanuelle films. [5] [6]


Early life

Kristel was born in Utrecht, the Netherlands; she was the elder daughter of an innkeeper, Jean-Nicholas Kristel, and his wife Pietje Hendrika Lamme. [7] [8] In her 2006 autobiography, Nue, she stated that she was sexually abused by an elderly hotel guest when she was nine years old, an experience she otherwise refused to discuss. Her parents divorced when she was 14 years old, after her father abandoned the family for another woman. "It was the saddest thing that ever happened to me," she said of the experience of her parents' separation. [9]


Kristel began modeling when she was 17 years old. In 1971, before becoming famous, she took part in an audition for the female lead in the film Last Tango in Paris (1972). She entered the Miss TV Europe contest in 1973 and won. She spoke Dutch, English, German, and Italian fluently, as well as several other languages to a lesser extent. Kristel gained international attention in 1974 for playing the title character in the softcore film Emmanuelle , which remains one of the most successful French films ever produced.

After the success of Emmanuelle, she often played roles that capitalized on that sexually provocative image, most notably starring in an adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), and a nudity-filled biopic of the World War I spy in Mata Hari (1985).

During the seventies she worked on lesser known films by prominent French directors, amongst them Claude Chabrol and Roger Vadim and starred next to Joe Dallesandro in Walerian Borowczyk' "La Marge", a success at the French box-office.

She was originally cast to play the part of Stella in Roman Polanski's film The Tenant (1976). After one day of shooting, she was replaced by Isabelle Adjani. In 1977, she was invited to star as Hattie in Louis Malle's controversial erotic drama Pretty Baby (1978), but the role went to Susan Sarandon, instead. She was friends with Sergio Leone. The director wanted her to play the role of Carol in the movie Once Upon a Time in America (1984), but the producers did not agree to her participation and told the cast of "the famous Hollywood star”. In 1982, she was turned down by Tony Scott for the role of Miriam in The Hunger (1983). Catherine Deneuve ended up playing the part. She was considered for the role of Lois Lane in Superman (1978), which went to Margot Kidder. Sylvia unsuccessfully applied for the role of Bond Girl in the movies: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981) and Octopussy (1983). She also rejected the main female roles in The Story of Adele H. (1975), King Kong (1976), Logan's Run (1976), Caligula (1979), Body Heat (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Scarface (1983), Dune (1984), Body Double (1984) and Blue Velvet (1986).

Her Emmanuelle typecasting image followed her to the United States, where she played Nicole Mallow, a maid who seduces a teenaged boy in the sex comedy Private Lessons (1981). [10] Another mainstream American film appearance was a brief comic turn in the Get Smart revival film The Nude Bomb in 1980.

Although Private Lessons was one of the highest-grossing independent films of 1981 (ranking number 28 in US domestic gross), [11] Kristel reportedly saw none of the profits and continued to appear in movies and last played Emmanuelle in the early 1990s. In May 1990, she appeared in the television series My Riviera, filmed at her home in Saint-Tropez and offering insights of her life and motivations in an interview with writer-director Michael Feeney Callan. Her friend, Gérard Depardieu, wanted to secure her comeback and tried to persuade the producers of 1492: Conquest of Paradise to cast her as Queen Isabel. Unfortunately to no avail. In 2001, she played a small role in Forgive Me, Dutch filmmaker Cyrus Frisch's debut. In May 2006, Kristel received an award at the Tribeca Film Festival, New York, for directing the animated short film Topor and Me, written by Ruud Den Dryver. The award was presented by Gayle King.

After a hiatus of eight years, she acted in the film, Two Sunny Days (2010), and that same year in her last acting role, she played Eva de Leeuw in the TV series The Swing Girls.[ citation needed ]

Personal life

Sylvia Kristel at the Cannes Film Festival, 1990 Sylvia Kristel 1990.jpg
Sylvia Kristel at the Cannes Film Festival, 1990

In September 2006, Kristel's autobiography Nue (Nude) was published in France. The writing was translated into English as Undressing Emmanuelle: A Memoir, by Fourth Estate, 2 July 2007, in which she described a turbulent personal life that was blighted by addictions to drugs and alcohol, and her quest for a father figure, which resulted in some destructive relationships with older men. The book received some positive reviews. [12]

She had her first major relationship with Belgian author Hugo Claus, who was more than two decades her senior. Their union produced her only child, a son named Arthur, who was born in 1975. She left her husband for British actor Ian McShane, whom she had met on the set of the film The Fifth Musketeer (1979). [13] They moved in together in Los Angeles, where he had promised to help her launch her American career. However, their five-year affair led to no significant career break for Kristel, but a relationship she describes in her autobiography as "awful  he was witty and charming, but we were too much alike." She began using cocaine about two years into their relationship. This proved her downfall, although at the time she thought of it as a "supervitamin, a very fashionable substance, without danger, but expensive, far more exciting than drowning in alcohol  a fuel necessary to stay in the swing." [14] Sylvia Kristel also had a relationship with French singer Michel Polnareff. [15]

Kristel was interviewed in 2006 for the documentary Hunting Emmanuelle. She described how she made a number of poor decisions due to an expensive cocaine addiction. One of those mistakes included selling her interest in Private Lessons to her agent for US$150,000; the film grossed more than US$26 million domestically. After McShane, she married twice, first to Alan Turner, an American businessman. That marriage ended after five months, and she later married film producer Philippe Blot. She spent a decade with Belgian radio producer Fred De Vree, until his death. [16]

Her authorized biography was written by Dutch journalist Suzanne Rethans and was published in September 2019. It took Rethans more than three years to write it. Titled 'Begeerd en Verguisd'- Atlas Contact- ISBN   9789045033174 ('Desired and Vilified'), it has not yet been translated in the English language. [17]

Illness and death

Kristel was an extremely heavy cigarette smoker from the age of 11. She was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001 and underwent three courses of chemotherapy and surgery after the disease spread to her lungs. [18] On 12 June 2012, she suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in critical condition. [19] Four months later, she died in her sleep at age 60 from esophageal and lung cancer. [20] Kristel is buried at her place of birth in Utrecht, the Netherlands. [3]



1973 Frank en Eva SylviaEnglish title: Living Apart Together
1973 Because of the Cats Hannie Troost
1973 Naked Over the Fence Lilly Marischka
1974 Emmanuelle Emmanuelle
1974 Julia Andrea
1974No Pockets in a ShroudAvril
1975 Playing with Fire Diana Van Den Berg
1975 Emmanuelle II EmmanuelleEnglish title: Emmanuelle, The Joys of a Woman
1976 Game of Seduction Mathilde Leroy
1976 The Margin Diana
1977 Alice or the Last Escapade Alice Caroll
1977 Rene the Cane Krista
1977 Emmanuelle 3 EmmanuelleEnglish title: Goodbye Emmanuelle
1978 Pastorale 1943 Miep Algera
1978MysteriesDany Kielland
1979 Tigers in Lipstick The Lady on the Bed / The Unhappy Wife
1979 The Fifth Musketeer Maria Theresa
1979 The Concorde ... Airport '79 Isabelle
1980 The Nude Bomb Agent 34
1980 Love in First Class Beatrice
1981 Private Lessons Mallow
1981 Lady Chatterley's Lover Lady Constance Chatterley
1983 Private School Ms. Regina Copoletta
1984 Emmanuelle 4 Sylvia / Emmanuelle
1985 Mata Hari Mata Hari
1985 Red Heat Sofia
1985The Big BetMichelle
1988 The Arrogant Julie
1988 Dracula's Widow Vanessa
1989Hot BloodSylvia
1992Silence of the Body
1993Beauty SchoolSylvia
1993 Emmanuelle 7 Emmanuelle
1996In the Shadow of the SandcastleAngel Kelley
1997 Gaston's War Miep Visser
1999Film 1Patron
1999An Amsterdam TaleAlma
1999Harry Rents a RoomMiss PinkyShort
2000 Lijmen/Het Been Jeanne
2001Vergeef meChiquita (on stage)
2001De vriendschapSylvia
2001Sexy BoysLa sexologue
2010Two Sunny DaysAngela


1981The Million Dollar FaceBrett DevereauxTV film
1987 Casanova MaddalenaTV film
1993 Emmanuelle Old EmmanuelleTV films
1996De eenzame oorlog van Koos Tak"Tante Heintje"
1996Onderweg naar morgenTrix OdijkTV series
1997Die SexfalleNicole FuchsTV film
2000Die UnbesiegbarenElisabeth LohmannTV film
2000Mind HunterTV film

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