RIP, softcore queen Sylvia “Emmanuelle” Kristel

Senior Editor
10.18.12 27 Comments

You’ve probably heard by now, but it’s true: Sylvia Kristel, a woman best known for playing Emmanuelle on late-night Skinemax, has died. She was a woman who embonered a generation. (*skirts lotion on ground*)

Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel, who starred as a sexually liberated housewife in the 1970s erotic movie “Emmanuelle,” has died of cancer at age 60.

“Emmanuelle,” the story of a sexually adventurous young model and her husband on a trip to Thailand, became as big a worldwide sensation in the 1970s as E.L. James’ “Fifty Shades of Grey” has in recent months. The softcore French film was that country’s highest-grossing release of 1974 and became so popular with female French moviegoers that Columbia Pictures decided to distribute the movie in the U.S. “Emmanuelle” ultimately grossed $100 million worldwide, according to the Internet Movie Database — an exceptional sum for any film of its day and very rare for one with an X rating.

The French picture spawned seven film sequels — four of them starring Kristel — and TV movie spinoffs. But while the original “Emmanuelle” catapulted the actress to international fame, she never became a household name in America. [Chicago Tribune]

Kristel told De Volkskrant, “love dictated what I did,” saying her former partner, Belgian author Hugo Claus, persuaded her to star in “Emmanuelle.”

“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 said. “In the end, 350 million people saw it worldwide.” [LATimes]

I always assumed it was Emmanuelle that inspired the long-running Seinfeld gag about Rochelle Rochelle – “one woman’s erotic journey from Milan to Minsk.” Anyway, I think it was Super director James Gunn who put it best:

You can see a thorough, uncensored (NSFW) biography here. I can’t remember which San Francisco comedian I heard say this, but jerking off to a dead chick is known as “Ghostbusting.”

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