Sylvia Kristel, 'Emmanuelle' Star, Dies at 60

10/18/2012 at 08:35 AM EDT

Sylvia Kristel, 'Emmanuelle' Star, Dies
Sylvia Kristel, in 1976
Sylvia Kristel, arguably the world's first true porn star, whose starring role in the 1974 erotic French film Emmanuelle changed the face of adult cinema, has died of cancer. She was 60.

"She died during the night during her sleep," her agent told the AFP news agency on Thursday.

The Dutch actress, a longtime smoker, had suffered a stroke in July.

Emmanuelle, which told the story of a wayward wife of a French diplomat abroad, was one of the first erotic films to be shown in mainstream theaters, and was one of the biggest French box-office hits ever. Kristel herself said it changed the censorship laws of the era.

Kristel starred in several Emmanuelle sequels, as well as some mainstream films, but she battled drug and alcohol addiction for years.

She is survived by a son, Arthur, whom she had in 1975 with then-husband Hugo Claus, the Belgian author.

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