NETHERLANDS — Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, the notorious and iconic star of the 1974 erotic French film 'Emmanuelle," died Wednesday night after losing a long battle with throat and lung cancer. She was 60.
Kristel's agent, Features Creative Management, said in a statement Thursday that Kristel had died in her sleep on Wednesday night. The former model-turned-actress was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001.
"Emmanuelle" director Just Jaeckin told the Associated Press, "I am very sad... She was like a little sister. We started together... 'Emmanuelle' brought us big problems. We were a bit marked. It was a highly contested film then and now it is a cult film."
Kristel took the role of Emanuelle at age 22 at the urging of her then partner Hugo Claus, a Belgian author twenty-seven years her senior and father to their son Arthur Kristel.
"He said, 'Thailand, that's nice; we've never been there and anyway the film will never come out in the Netherlands so you won't put your mother to shame,'" Kristel told Dutch newspaper De Volkkrant in 2005. "In the end, 350 million people saw it worldwide."
Kristel went on to star in three more "Emmanuelle" sequels, the sexually-charged biopic Mata Hari, in which she played the alleged World War I stripper/spy and Jaeckin's adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover."
In 1981, Kristel attempted to launch her career in the U.S. by starring in the Paramount Pictures' sex comedy "Private Lessons." She played Nicole Mallow, a French housekeeper who seduces a wealthy businessman's 15-year-old son. Bouts with alcohol and cocaine addictions, however, soon derailed her efforts.
Kristel is survived by her partner Peter Brul and son Arthur Kristel. She will be buried at a private funeral.