Sylvia Kristel

Actor, Model, Secretary
A sensual Dutch actress, Sylvia Kristel became a global star after portraying the sexual adventurer "Emmanuelle" (1974). Achieving unprecedented mainstream success for a soft-core project, the actress, the film, as well ... Read more »
Born: 09/28/1952 in Utrecht, NL


Actor (36)

Sexy Boys 2001 (Movie)

Psychiatrist (Actor)

Vergeef Me 2000 (Movie)


Film 1 1998 (Movie)


Beauty School 1993 (Movie)


Emmanuelle 7 1992 (Movie)

Emmanuelle (Actor)

Dracula's Widow 1988 (Movie)

Vanessa (Actor)

Casanova 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)


The Arrogant 1987 (Movie)

Julie (Actor)

Emmanuelle 4 1985 (Movie)

Sylvia (Actor)

Mata Hari 1985 (Movie)

Mata Hari (Actor)

The Big Bet 1985 (Movie)


Red Heat 1984 (Movie)

Soplia (Actor)

Lady Chatterley's Lover 1982 (Movie)

Constance Chatterley (Actor)

Private Lessons 1981 (Movie)

Nicole Mallow (Actor)

The Concorde - Airport '79 1979 (Movie)

Isabelle (Actor)

The Nude Bomb 1979 (Movie)

Agent 34 (Actor)

Un Amore in prima classe 1979 (Movie)


The 5th Musketeer 1978 (Movie)

Marie-Therese (Actor)

Alice ou la derniere Fugue 1977 (Movie)

Alice (Actor)

Goodbye Emmanuelle 1977 (Movie)

Emmanuelle (Actor)

Letti Selvaggi 1977 (Movie)


Mysteries 1977 (Movie)

Dany Kielland (Actor)

Pastorale 1943 1977 (Movie)


Tigers in Lipstick 1977 (Movie)


Emmanuelle l'anti-vierge 1975 (Movie)

Emmanuelle (Actor)

La Marge 1975 (Movie)

Diana (Actor)

Rene la Canne 1975 (Movie)

Krista (Actor)

Une Femme Fidele 1975 (Movie)

Mathilde Leroy (Actor)

Der Lieberschuler 1974 (Movie)

Julia (Actor)

Emmanuelle 1974 (Movie)

Emmanuelle (Actor)

Le Jeu avec le feu 1974 (Movie)

Diana (Actor)

Un Linceul n'a pas de poches 1973 (Movie)

Avril (Actor)

Frank en Eva 1972 (Movie)


Naakt over de schutting 1972 (Movie)


Niet voor de poesen 1972 (Movie)


The Million Dollar Face (TV Show)



A sensual Dutch actress, Sylvia Kristel became a global star after portraying the sexual adventurer "Emmanuelle" (1974). Achieving unprecedented mainstream success for a soft-core project, the actress, the film, as well as even the name itself, became pop cultural shorthand for a certain romantic, European style of erotica. Kristel went on to appear in "Emmanuelle" sequels in 1975, 1977, 1984 and 1993, as well as in multiple made-for-TV installments of the long-running franchise. She poked fun at her lusty image with roles in "The Nude Bomb" (1980), "Private School" (1983) and "Mata Hari" (1985) and scored a mainstream Hollywood hit as the maid who initiates a lucky teenage boy into the mysteries of sex in the hit "Private Lessons" (1981). Romantically linked to actor Ian McShane for a time and having battled a cocaine addiction, Kristel was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and died of complications on Oct. 17, 2012. Considered by many to be one of the silver screen's most captivating love goddesses, Sylvia Kristel earned her own unique place in the immortal pop culture pantheon.

Born Sept. 28, 1952 in Utrecht, The Netherlands, Sylvia Kristel won the 1973 Miss TV Europe crown, which helped her break into films with appearances in such movies as "Frank en Eva" (1973), "Because of the Cats" (1973) and "Naakt over de schutting" (1973). She achieved an unexpected international breakthrough, however, when she was cast as the titular pleasure-seeking housewife "Emmanuelle" (1974), a soft-core sexual fantasy with ample lesbian content that took everyone by surprise with how well it was received. The tale of an alluring young woman (Kristel) who travels to Thailand to join her husband but instead embarks on a sensual odyssey of self-discovery, "Emmanuelle" became a global blockbuster, with the name itself as well as Kristel forever associated with a certain brand of soft-focus, European erotica. Swept up in the same movement that made the pornographic film "Deep Throat" (1972) a mainstream phenomenon, the film earned a major Hollywood release as well as a reputation as a female-friendly, high-minded approach to the genre.

Although the actress appeared in many other projects, she continued to earn her greatest fame from her most famous character, starring in "Emmanuelle II" (1975), "Emmanuelle 3" (1977), "Emmanuelle IV" (1984), "Emmanuelle VI" (1993) and a string of made-for-TV movies throughout the early 1990s. So popular and enduring was the franchise that it continued without Kristel, with a mind-boggling number of spin-offs and spoofs. In fact, the character was used as the title and running joke of a particularly memorable episode of "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006- ) in which Jenna (Jane Krakowski) stars in the sequel "Emmanuelle Goes to Dinosaur Land." Kristel maintained a good sense of humor about her immortalization as the ultimate sex goddess, and played off her image with appearances in "The Nude Bomb" (1980), "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (1981), "Private School" (1983) and "Mata Hari" (1985). Her biggest non-"Emmanuelle" success came as a gorgeous French maid who lovingly seduces the teenage son of her employer in the mainstream Hollywood hit "Private Lessons" (1981), which fired up the fantasies of countless viewers and ensured Kristel a place of affection in their hearts.

Romantically linked to actor Ian McShane, whom she met on the set of "The Fifth Musketeer" (1979), Kristel was never quite able to advance her American movie career. A developing cocaine addiction that nearly derailed both her life did not help matters. In 2006, she won an award at the Tribeca Film Festival for directing the short film "Topor and Me" (2004), and in 2007, she published her autobiography, Undressing Emmanuelle: A Memoir. Her focus, however, largely turned inward after being diagnosed with throat cancer in 2001 after having smoked unfiltered cigarettes since age 11. Although she sought treatment, her health never fully recovered and she died on Oct. 17, 2012, of complications of her cancer. Nevertheless, Sylvia Kristel lived on in the fantasies of millions who had fallen in love or lust with her decades earlier.

By Jonathan Riggs


Philippe Blot Director

Married 1986 Divorced 1991

Hugo Claus Screenplay

Dated in 1970s

Arthur Claus

Born 1975; father, Hugo Claus Later became an actor using his mother's surname Kristel

Jean-Nicholas Kristel

Dutch clay pigeon shooting champion; refused to wear ear plugs during competitions and went deaf Divorced from Sylvia's mother c. 1969 Died 1994

Piet Kristel

Divorced from Sylvia's father c. 1969 Died 2000

Ian McShane Actor

Met on set of "The Fifth Musketeer" (1979) Had turbulent five-year relationship Separated early 1980s

Alan Turner

Married 1982 Divorced after five months



Published memoir Undressing Emmanuelle


Made directorial debut with animated short "Topor and Me"


Played the title character in a series of "Emmanuelle" TV-movies


Cast in title role of "Mata Hari"


Played dual roles in "Emmanuelle IV"


Played Lady Constance Chatterley in "Lady Chatterley's Lover," a film adaptation of D.H. Lawrence's novel


Played female lead in "The Nude Bomb"


Appeared in drama thriller "The Concorde...Airport '79"


Acted opposite Ursula Andress and Beau Bridges in "The Fifth Musketeer"


Returned for "Emmanuelle 3"


Reprised role in "Emmanuelle II"


Landed breakthrough starring role in soft-core film " Emmanuelle," about the wife of a French diplomat in Bangkok who seeks various sexual encounters


Judged "Miss TV Europe"

After becoming sober and losing a fortune through her second marriage, moved to Brussels

Moved to California

Battled drug and alcohol addiction for much of the early 1980s