<i>En passant:</i> Sylvia Kristel

Friday, October 19, 2012

En passant: Sylvia Kristel

Sylvia Maria Kristel, 1952-2012

Dutch model-turned-actress who specialized in erotica, Sylvia Kristel, died Wednes­day at her home in The Hague, age 60, after a seven-year battle with vari­ous forms of cancer.

I take note of her passing because it was Kristel, along with one-time stage actress Michelle Graham (better known as "Georgina Spelvin"), who, 40 years ago, kept the Hampton Arts Theater going until an Ingrid Bergman film turned it completely around over Christmas 1974.

In contrast to "Spelvin," Kristel enjoyed her greatest ce­leb­rity in a series of "softcore" (X-rated as opposed to the hardcore XXX) as the title character "Emmanuelle" and in three of the six popular sequels.

In the days when United Artists Eastern Theaters held a virtual monopoly on film exhibition on the East End, the then single screen at Six Corners was one of two independent venues, and while "art house" films such as "Elvira Madi­gan" and "Z" could keep business brisk for six and eight week runs during the Summer months, off season was a different story.

It was during the Winter1 when films such as "Emmanuelle" kept the lights on until Richie Westley's ability to book "Murder on the Orient Express" at the end of 1974 proved to the New York City bookers that the Hampton Arts was a viable venue of first run main stream releases.

(More fully discussed at "HAT's back...".)

Sylvia Kristel in the original "Emmanuelle" (1973)

Prior to that, it was Sylvia Kristel's films and the occasional forray into "porno-chic" like "Devil In Miss Jones" that had kept the lights on at Six Corners.

She wasn't a great actress, but she was a genuine beauty... and she looked terrific en déshabillé.

  1. Yes, there was Winter grindhouse blaxploitation and soft-core fare such as "Shaft's Big Score" and "The Swingin' Stewardesses."


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