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Emmanuelle star Kristel dies at 60

Actress Sylvia Kristel, the Dutch star of the hit 1970s erotic film Emmanuelle, has died of cancer aged 60.

Her agent, Features Creative Management, said in a statement that Kristel died in her sleep.

Kristel, a model who turned to acting in the 1970s, had been fighting cancer for several years. Her breakthrough came in Emmanuelle, an erotic tale directed by Frenchman Just Jaeckin, about the sexual adventures of a man and his beautiful young wife, played by Kristel, in Thailand.

She went on to star in several sequels to Emmanuelle, as well as in Hollywood films including Private Lessons in 1981.

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.

Her agent described her as one of the Netherlands' biggest film stars, with more than 50 international films to her name. Among them were many erotically tinted films, including a 1981 adaptation - also directed by Jaeckin - of DH Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover and Mata Hari, four years later.

She was honoured in 2006 with a special jury prize at the Tribeca Film Festival for a short animated film she directed called Topor et Moi.

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."

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