/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.
Early lifeKristel was born in Utrecht, Netherlands, as the daughter of Jean-Nicholas and "Piet", who ran an inn in Utrecht. In her 2006 autobiography Nue she claims to have been sexually abused by an elderly guest at the hotel at the age of nine, an event which she has refused to discuss in detail. Her parents divorced when she was 14 years old after her father left home for another woman. "It was the saddest thing that ever happened to me", she said of the experience of her parents' separation. She had a younger sister, Marianne.
Kristel began modeling when she was 17. She entered the Miss TV Europe contest in 1973 and won. She spoke Dutch, English, French, German and Italian. She 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
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 (1981) and a nudity-filled biopic of the World War I spy in Mata Hari. 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.
Private Lessons was one of the highest grossing independent films of 1981 (ranking #28 in US Domestic Gross), Kristel saw none of the profits. She 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 St Tropez and offering insights of her life and motivations in an interview with writer-director Michael Feeney Callan. In 2001 Sylvia played a small role in "Forgive me", the film debut of controversial Dutch filmmaker Cyrus Frisch. 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 not having acted for eight years, Kristel played a part in the movie Two Sunny Days in 2010 and in the same year she played the mother of the Trio Lescano in the TV series The Swing Girls.
Her first major relationship was with Hugo Claus, a Belgian author twenty-seven years her senior with whom she had a son, Arthur, born in 1975. She left him for Ian McShane, ten years her senior, whom she met on the set of the 1979 film The Fifth Musketeer. They moved in together in Los Angeles where he had promised to help her launch her American career. However their five year affair would lead 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." About two years into the relationship she began using cocaine. This proved to be her downfall, though 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."
Interviewed in 2006 for the documentary Hunting Emmanuelle, she describes how, nurturing an expensive cocaine habit, she made a number of poor decisions, including selling her interest in Private Lessons to her agent for $150,000; the film would gross more than $26 million domestically. 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 before he died.
Illness and deathA heavy smoker of unfiltered cigarettes from the age of eleven, Sylvia Kristel was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001 and underwent three courses of chemotherapy, and surgery after it spread to her lung. On 12 June 2012, she suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in a life-threatening condition.
She died in her sleep, aged 60, in mid-October 2012 from esophageal and lung cancer.
Filmography The Swing Girls (2010) (TV) .... Eva de Leeuw Two Sunny Days (2010) .... Angela Bank (2002) .... Wife Sexy Boys (2001) .... La sexologue De vriendschap (2001) .... Sylvia Vergeef me (2001) .... Chiquita (on stage) Die Unbesiegbaren (2000) (TV) Lijmen/Het Been (2000) .... Jeanne An Amsterdam Tale (1999) .... Alma Film 1 (1999) .... Patron Harry Rents a Room (1999) .... Miss Pinky Gaston's War (1997) .... Miep Visser Die Sexfalle (1997) (TV) .... Nicole Fuchs "Onderweg naar morgen" (1994) Serie TV .... Trix Odijk (1996) "De eenzame oorlog van Koos Tak" (1996) - Tante Heintje (1996) Episodio TV Emmanuelle au 7ème ciel (1993) .... Emmanuelle Le secret d'Emmanuelle (1993) (TV) Beauty School (1993) .... Sylvia Le parfum d'Emmanuelle (1993) (TV) .... Emmanuelle Magique Emmanuelle (1993) (TV) .... Emmanuelle L'amour d'Emmanuelle (1993) (TV) .... Old Emmanuelle Emmanuelle à Venise (1993) (TV) .... Old Emmanuelle La revanche d'Emmanuelle (1993) (TV) .... Old Emmanuelle Éternelle Emmanuelle (1993) (TV) .... Old Emmanuelle Seong-ae-ui chimmuk (1992) Hot Blood (1990) .... Sylvia In the Shadow of the Sandcastle (1990) .... Angel Dracula's Widow (1988) .... Vanessa The Arrogant (1988) .... Julie Casanova (1987) (TV) .... Maddalena Red Heat (1985) .... Sofia Mata Hari (1985) .... Mata Hari The Big Bet (1985) .... Michelle Emmanuelle IV (1984) .... Sylvia / Emmanuelle Private School (1983) .... Ms. Regina Copoletta Private Lessons (1981) .... Nicole Mallow Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981) .... Lady Constance Chatterley The Million Dollar Face (1981) (TV) .... Brett Devereaux Un amore in prima classe (1980) .... Beatrice The Nude Bomb (1980) .... Agent 34 The Concorde ... Airport '79 (1979) .... Isabelle The Fifth Musketeer (1979) .... Maria Theresa Letti selvaggi (1979) .... The Lady on the Bed/The Unhappy Wife Mysteries (1978) .... Dany Kielland Pastorale 1943 (1978) .... Miep Algera Goodbye Emmanuelle (1977) .... Emmanuelle René la canne (1977) .... Krista Alice ou la dernière fugue (1977) .... Alice Caroll La marge (1976) .... Diana Une femme fidèle (1976) .... Mathilde Leroy Emmanuelle: L'antivierge (1975) .... Emmanuelle Le jeu avec le feu (1975) .... Diana Van Den Berg Un linceul n'a pas de poches (1974) .... Avril Der Liebesschüler (1974) .... Andrea Emmanuelle (1974) .... Emmanuelle Naakt over de schutting (1973) .... Lilly Marischka Because of the Cats (1973) .... Hannie Troost Frank en Eva (1973) .... Sylvia