Sylvia Kristel (born September 28, 1952 in Utrecht, Netherlands) is a Dutch actress and model. She is the daughter of a conductor and she had a Catholic upbringing. When she was 17 she began modelling. She entered the Miss TV Europe contest, in 1973, and won. She speaks Dutch, English, French, German and Italian. Throughout the mid-1970s she dated Belgian writer Hugo Claus. She gained international attention in 1974 for playing the title character in the soft core film Emmanuelle which remains one of the most successful French films ever produced. Her surname is pronounced "kri-STELL".
Kristel found herself typecast as Emmanuelle and often played roles that captialized upon that image, most notably starring in an adaptation of Lady Chatterly's Lover, and a nudity-filled biopic of World War I spy, Mata Hari, in which she played the title role. Her Emmanuelle image followed her to the United States where she played Nicole Mallow, a maid who seduces a teenage boy, in the controversial 1981 sex comedy Private Lessons. One of her only other mainstream American film appearances was a brief comic turn in the Get Smart revival film, The Nude Bomb in 1980. She continues to appear in movies, and last played Emmanuelle in the early 1990s.
Kristel has a son named Arthur, who is also an actor. She currently resides in Amsterdam, Netherlands.