Sylvia Kristel, the star of renowned erotic film Emmanuelle, has died aged 60 following a long battle with cancer. She passed away in her sleep on Wednesday night, according to her agent.
Born in Utrecht in 1952, Kristel began modelling at the age of 17 and won the Miss TV Europe contest in 1973. Shortly after her victory she was cast as the lead in the French-made Emmanuelle, which was released in 1974.
The film, which told the story of a promiscuous housewife, spawned a number of sequels, and imitations, and went on to become one of the most successful French films ever made.
Kristel said in interviews that she believed Emmanuelle was the film which, above all others, changed attitudes to on-screen erotica around the world: “In a lot of countries the light went on, and that contributed very much to the success,” she said.
After starring in Emmanuelle, Kristel appeared in over 50 motion pictures, many of them erotic, and reprised the role of Emmanuelle time and again.
In later life she became a painter and released her autobiography, which was translated into English as Undressing Emmanuelle, in 2006.
Kristel is survived by her partner Peter Brul and a son, Arthur, from a previous relationship.