×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Last Tango in Paris’ Star Maria Schneider Dies

Thesp acted in more than 2 dozen films

French actress Maria Schneider, who caused a furor as Marlon Brando’s teenaged co-star in the steamy 1972 film “Last Tango in Paris,” died Thursday in Paris at 58. Her death came “following a long illness,” a representative of the Act 1 talent agency said, and she was said to have been battling cancer.

Just 19 when she starred opposite Brando in Bernardo Bertolucci’s iconic film, which garnered Oscar noms for Brando and Bertolucci, she played Jeanne, a young Parisian woman who takes up with a middle-aged American businessman.

Though Schneider appeared in more than two dozen films throughout her career, none would bring her even a fraction of the success of “Last Tango.”

With its X rating and large-scale release, “Last Tango” kicked off a trend for more graphic material in films. But its release spurred bomb threats and protests, and Bertolucci was convicted of obscenity in Italy.

Bertolucci told Italy’s ANSA news agency that he wished he could have apologized to her. “Maria accused me of having robbed her of her youth and only today am I wondering whether there wasn’t some truth to that,” he said.

During the 1970s, she battled drug addiction, overdoses and a suicide attempt. She refused to do nude scenes again and checked herself into a mental hospital while shooting “Caligula” rather than perform in what she saw as an obscene film.

Popular on Variety

She told the U.K.’s Daily Mail that in 1980 she met someone who helped her stop doing drugs but wouldn’t specify whether it was a man or a woman. “I call this person my angel, and we’ve been together ever since,” she said.

In the same interview, she seemed to regret her most well-known role, saying, “To be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci.”

She starred opposite Jack Nicholson in Michelangelo Antonioni’s existential 1975 drama “The Passenger” and appeared in Franco Zeffirelli’s “Jane Eyre.”

The daughter of actor Daniel Gelin and Romanian-born Marie-Christine Schneider, she had her first major role in Alain Delon’s “Madly” in 1969.

She continued working in mostly minor French films and TV shows, appearing in “Savage Nights,” the TV series “Maigret” and her last film, Josiane Balasko’s 2009 “Cliente.”

(Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.)

More Scene

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER

    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker Honored at David Lynch Foundation's Women of Vision Awards

    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker and Deborra-Lee Furness were celebrated for their charitable work at the David Lynch Foundation’s 2019 Women of Vision Awards. “We are all being guided to come together as one. There is so much chaos in the world right now,” Karan said, while accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual luncheon on [...]

  • Bill Hader

    Bill Hader, Greg Berlanti, Margie Cohn and Cindy Holland Inducted Into Variety Hall of Fame

    Variety’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony mixed comedy, gratitude and warmth at the annual awards ceremony Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Because the class of 2019 celebrates technical innovation and achievement across film, TV, digital, video games and music. The honorees — Greg Berlanti, Bill Hader, Cindy Holland, Dametra Johnson-Marletti, [...]

  • Billy Porter FNAA

    Billy Porter Explains Why Fashion 'Can and Should' Be Activism

    On Tuesday in New York City, a handful of fashion’s marquee names, including Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Steve Madden and Pete Nordstrom, and many of its muses, including Billy Porter, Lena Waithe, Adriana Lima and Paris Hilton, gathered to celebrate the annual Footwear News Achievement Awards — or, as it’s more colloquially dubbed, the “Shoe Oscars.” Activism and the potential for designers to spur [...]

  • Tiffany Haddish Black Mitzvah

    Barbra Streisand Gives Tiffany Haddish Star of David Necklace for Her 'Black Mitzvah'

    Tiffany Haddish rang in her 40th birthday Tuesday night by celebrating her black and Jewish heritage with a star-studded “Black Mitzvah” party. One of Haddish’s famous friends, Barbra Streisand, was noticeably absent from the festivities, but sent the comedian a special memento for the occasion. “She got me this beautiful Star of David,” Haddish told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content