19 Oct 2012

Actress Sylvia Kristel dies

1:40 pm on 19 October 2012

Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, who starred in the 1974 erotic French film Emmanuelle, has died at the age of 60.

The actress, who had cancer, was admitted to hospital in July after suffering a stroke.

Emmanuelle, which told the story of a sexually promiscuous housewife, one of the first erotic movies to be shown in mainstream cinemas.

Kristel herself attributed its success to the changing censorship laws of the era.

The actress went on to star in several sequels, as well as more mainstream films - many of which, like Lady Chatterley's Lover and Mata Hari, played on her reputation as an erotic film star.

Born in Utrecht, Holland, in 1952, Kristel fled her strict Calvinist upbringing for Amsterdam as a teenager, where she worked as a secretary and a waitress before becoming a model.

Aged 21, she won two beauty competitions and, shortly afterwards, was encouraged to pursue acting by her boyfriend, Belgian author Hugo Claus.

Kristel spent seven years in Hollywood, appearing in several films, but the actress, whose parents were both alcoholics, soon found herself addicted to drink and drugs.