“I was a silent actress, a body. I belonged to dreams, to those who can’t be broken…”
Those words by Sylvia Kristel summed up how she felt about her life and career…this Icon will forever be known for a single role…
Celebrating The Career Of Sylvia Kristel!
Here’s a look at the Cult Movie Queen who will forever be known as the original “Emmanuelle!” Let’s look at how she got this iconic role.
Sylvia Kristel was born on September 28, 1952 in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Her parents owned and ran the Commerce Hotel there.
Here’s some fascinating trivia: Sylvia and her sister, Marianne, were brought up in Room 21, unless the hotel was full – then they moved to Room 22 which, according to the actress, was the size of a cupboard!
She began modeling at age 17, and worked in a bar, as a secretary and even pumped gas while struggling to succeed as a dancer prior to becoming a Model and an Actress.
Kristel’s breakthrough came when she entered the “Miss TV Europe” contest and won, which led to her movie career.
It was this poster that signaled to the world that a new sex kitten had arrived!
“Emmanuelle” Has Arrived!
A “once in a lifetime” movie role with an iconic poster – right at the time when erotic films were exploding around the world – and a star was born!
This image announced the arrival of a new “Sex Kitten” – and catapulted Kristel to stardom.
Sylvia has said she only took the role to get away from the Dutch film industry and her convent school upbringing!
Did she ever!
Here is the trailer:
“Emmanuelle” was a hugely successful 1974 erotic tale about the sexual adventures of a man and his beautiful young wife, played by Kristel, in Thailand.
Kristel was unhappy that she was not approached to record her lines for an English version of the film, as she spoke fluent English!
FYI, the film played a Paris theater for more than a decade!
This film made Kristel an international superstar and sex kitten…and while she was only paid $6,000 for the film, her price shot up based on the film’s success!
She went on to star in “Emmanuelle 2” in 1975.
The Actress knew the impact that the film had on her life. As she said at the time:
“I realized that the public had been deeply affected by Emmanuelle (1974) and wanted to prolong their fantasy, to keep me within it, symbolic and naked, idealized and necessary.”
Laura Gemser also appeared in that sequel – more on her “Emanuelle” career to come…
Kristel had her choice of roles now, and in 1975 she turned down the role in “King Kong” that went to Jessica Lange.
For Sylvia, “Emmanuelle 3” was the next chapter in her iconic character’s erotic adventure.
This 1977 sequel was also known as “Goodbye Emmanuelle.”
While Kristel kept churning out “Emmanuelle” films, she also earned a reputation for what she DIDN’T do – among the films she had turned down: starring roles in Caligula (1979), Body Heat (1981), Blade Runner (1982), Scarface (1983) and Body Double (1984)!
Even though she passed on those classic films, she still made a lot of hit films – here’s her most successful:
This provocative 1981 film was a huge hit and showcased all of the Actresses assets – check out the trailer:
Kristel played the housekeeper who initiates 15-year-old Eric Brown to the wonders of sex!
The film grossed over $50,000,000 worldwide.
Kristel Does Playboy!
The Actress was hugely popular at this time.
She dazzled in this provocative Playboy magazine photo spread in 1982:
Sadly, the Actress began to struggle with her success.
In Hollywood, she sank into a world of drink and drugs. “I wish I could have skipped that part of my life,” she said in a 2005 interview with Dutch newspaper De Volkkrant.
She struggled with the image she had built of herself in film. As she said:
“I was a silent actress, a body. I belonged to dreams, to those who can’t be broken.”
Still, she had a great career and millions of fans worldwide.
The Actress published her memoir about life as “Emmanuelle” and more…
Sadly, the Iconic Actress died of cancer at the age of 60 in 2012…but she left a legacy as one of the most popular erotic characters in film…now, about that name “Emmanuelle”…
See this film? It’s terrific, but note that “Emanuelle” only has ONE “M”….to keep out of legal trouble!
It’s one of many films using that name – spelled differently but still evocative – click here to see the trailer for this wild thriller:
While the lead character in the film is named Emanuelle, it wasn’t THAT “Emanuelle” – although legendary Eurosleaze director Joe D’Amato would make another EMANUELLE film the following year with Laura Gemser: “Black Emanuelle!”
I took an in-depth look at this classic as well, and you can see the trailer and lots of revealing pics by clicking on my story here:
Here’s another Actress to appeared in an “Emmanuelle” film as well:
Click here to see Annie Belle’s role in one of these knockoff films as well:
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Let me know if you had the chance to see any of these Sylvia Kristel films!