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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Falling Stars!

Regular readers of the Marisa Mell Blog know mostly that her life was like a rollercoaster: coming from rather humble origins in Austria, gradually growing into an Eurocult movie superstar, living the life of a diva in sunny Rome (Italy), trying to survive the downfall of her movie career, living a harsh life of poverty in Austria again and finally succumbing to throat cancer. When looking at the lifes of other Eurocult actresses from that era, there is one life of an other actress that has some remarkable similarities to the life of Marisa Mell. Her name: Silvia Kristel. Dutch born actress Silvia Kristel is best known and will always be known as the sexy heroine of the original Emmanuelle-trilogy (1974-1977). There was another Emmanuelle movie made in 1969 called "Io, Emmanuelle" based indirectly on the novel by the same title written by the French ambassador's wife to Thailand Emmanuelle Arsan and starring another Eurocult main stay Erica Blanc but hardcore fans of the Emmanuelle-trilogy regard Silvia Kristel as the one and only actress incarnating the title role and the first three movies of the series as the official canon for the life of Emmanuelle, disregarding all other movies, name changes, storylines and actresses playing the part since. Once her on-screen reputation was made as seductive sexy Emmanuelle, Silvia Kristel had a very hard time casting off this image to gather new movie roles. Partly she did succeed in getting other more serious parts working with directors like Roger Vadim, Walerian Borowczyk, Francis Girod or working with actors like Gérard Depardieu, Michel Piccoli, Alain Delon but in the end her past crept up on her and she starred again in several sexy movies like Lady Chatterly's Lover with Nicolas Clay directed by Emmanuelle director Just Jaeckin or the highly successful movie "Private lessons". When her career started to dwindle due to excessive abuse of alcohol, smoking and drugs like cocaine instigated by her lover for several years Ian McShane whom she met during the production of the movie the Fifth Musketeer in Hollywood or financial bankrupt and again excessive life style with the before mentioned substances which she endured all out of love to a man called Philip Blot while financing and starring in his movie "The Arrogant" she had to make a decision. Like Marisa Mell left Rome (Italy) to live again in her old home town Vienna (Austria) out of financial necessity Silvia Kristel left Hollywood to live again in her old home town Amsterdam (Holland). Both ladies decided that to earn new income one of the venues to do so outside the movie bussiness was trying to become an creative artist in drawing and painting.

And drawing and painting they did. Nothing is know about the source of inspiration for Marisa Mell to start doing this. For Silvia Kristel her greatest inspiration in this field was the French writer, painter, illustrator and director Roland Topor. He taught her the basic rules of creating art.
Marisa Mell - Selfportrait

Silvia Kristel - Selfportrait

As written in another entry for this blog, Marisa Mell was not very successful in her new endeavor, got some minor local exhibitions in Austria and then left in silence this field. Silvia Kristel on the other hand had and still has some kind of success with her art that is still being made by her and sold in several galeries in the Netherlands at a moderate price. I was lucky to meet her in person and be at one of her openings at the beginning of her new artistic career. She was a very moderate and shy person nothing at all like her movie heroine or her reputation. Just a women who tries to make a good living after her ordeal with another life style that she was not accostumed to. Having lived such a extravagant life with chauffeurs, maids, big houses... the next possible step in earning money as a fading away movie actress is to write one's autobiography.
Both ladies tried to write down their lives as seen through their eyes in a rather "Tell All" story. Again the difference in outcome could not have been greater between to two actresses. Marisa Mell tried to write an autobiography mostly based on her successes in the movies and theater, her past en present lovers by naming all the handsome and (very) rich man popular during her height in the movie business in the 70's and her glamorous life in Italy while Silvia Kristel tried to write a real honest account of her life as a "Memoir". She even did mention, although very brief, being abused as a child by a hotel guest which stayed at the hotel run by her family. The autobiography of Marisa Mell did not do much and disappreared in oblivion, Silvia Kristel's book was quite a success in Europe having translations from French into Dutch, German and English among others and is still in print.
But that was not enough to earn some decent income to keep up a good life. While Marisa Mell did not find true love during the harsh times of her life, Silvia Kristel did meet a nice man that truely loved her for who she was and not the "Emmanuelle" figure that so many men believed that she was. She left Amsterdam together with her lover and lived almost ten years in Brussels (Belgium) a very modest and simple life in a small apartment near the old city center. She went just like everybody else to the backery and grossery store to do her shoppings, standing in line to place an order, as often witnessed. A life so far away from Hollywood where everything is done for you and seeing movie stars only in restaurants like the Ivy or driving by in a limo. But tragic struck twice again for Silvia Kristel when her lover after a longer period of time being ill died from cancer. She was alone again. And then, as if regaining strenght after the death of a beloved one was not enough, just like Marisa Mell in her fifties, Silvia Kristel was diagnosed with throat cancer. Silvia Kristel decided to move back from Brussels to Amsterdam to be close to her family, especially her son Arthur and sister Marianne, while fighting this terrible disease. After her glamorous life in Italy Marisa Mell was not that lucky to have family around her to help her fight the cancer, she could only rely on her friend from theater school Erika Pluhar. In the end, it was not enough to help her and Marisa Mell died after a short but very painfull illness of the throat cancer. Silvia Kristel was luckier that she could beat the cancer. At the moment after 5 long and tension filled years she is cured from this terrible disease and is still living in Amsterdam. Her income is not that high, mostly coming from social wellfare, her art, some projects now and then and some very wealthy friends who support her with an allowance. But she is happy that she survived it all and still is alive to be with her son and her sister's family.
Silvia Kristel has a wonderful smokey voice! She sang the title song of Emmanuelle II. In this clip she sings the song "Changes".

Thanks to André Schneider for supplying the picture of Marisa Mell from the movie "Una Sull'Altra".


On October 17th 2012 sadly Sylvia Kristel lost the battle with cancer, after having being diagnosed the past year with a relapse of her health! This is a clip from the press release of her death:

Emmanuelle star Sylvia Kristel dies at 60

Dutch actress Sylvia Kristel who starred in the iconic 1974 erotic French film Emmanuelle and more than 50 other movies died in her sleep overnight after suffering from cancer, her agent said.

“She died during the night during her sleep,'' Marieke Verharen of Features Creative Management told AFP of the 60 year-old actress who had been admitted to an Amsterdam hospital in July following a stroke.


Alex B. said...

A great post, highly informative.
I appreciate you mentioning Roland Topor. His book "Le Locataire chimérique" is great.

Keith said...

Hello. I hope this finds you doing well. I've been on a blogging hiatus since the beginning of the year, so it's been quite some time since I've been around to visit some blogs. I'm back from my break now. I wanted to make sure to visit your blog. I enjoyed checking out the latest posts on your blog. Great job. I'm back blogging now myself. I hope you'll take a look at what I'm doing. Thanks. Take care. Have a great week.

Sal said...

I love this piece. A tribute to Sylvia Kristal. May she rest in peace.