Sylvia Kristel  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Sylvia Kristel (28 September 1952 – 18 October 2012) was a Dutch actress who performed in over 50 movies, and was best known for playing the titular character in four of the seven erotic Emmanuelle films. She also directed Topor and Me, an animated short about Roland Topor.


She is the daughter of a skeet shooting champion. Her parents ran a hotel in Utrecht. In her new autobiography Nue she claims to have been sexually abused by an elderly guest at the age of nine, an event which she still refuses to discuss in detail. Her parents divorced when she was 14 and her sister Marianne 12 after their father left home for another woman. 'It was the saddest thing that ever happened to me', she says of it.

When she was 17 she began modeling. She entered the Miss TV Europe contest in 1973 and won. She speaks Dutch, English, French, German and Italian. She gained international attention in 1974 for playing the title character in the soft core film Emmanuelle which remains one of the most successful French films ever produced.

Kristel found herself typecast as Emmanuelle and often played roles that capitalised upon that image, most notably starring in an adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover and a nudity filled biopic of World War I spy Mata Hari in which she played the title role. Her Emmanuelle image followed her to the United States where she played Nicole Mallow, a maid who seduces a teenage boy, in the controversial 1981 sex comedy Private Lessons. One of her only other mainstream American film appearances 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 #28 in US Domestic Gross [1]), Kristel saw none of the profits. She continues to appear in movies and last played Emmanuelle in the early 1990s.

Private life

In September 2006 Sylvia Kristel's autobiography Nue (Naked) was published in France. In it she tells of a turbulent personal life blighted by addictions to drugs, alcohol, and her quest for a father figure which resulted in some harmful relationships with older men. Her first major relationship was with Hugo Claus, a Belgian author 27 years her senior with whom she had a son Arthur born in 1975. She left him for Ian McShane, 10 years her senior, whom she met on the set of the 1977 film Man Behind the Mask.

Since McShane, she has been married twice, first to an American businessman which ended after five months and then to film producer Phillippe Blot. She spent a decade with Belgian radio producer Fred De Vree but he died suddenly. With much of her Emmanuelle earnings flittered away on poor investments, she herself now lives a comparatively simple life back in Amsterdam, presently remaining single whilst mourning the death of De Vree from cancer.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Sylvia Kristel" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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