‘Last Tango in Paris’ Star Maria Schneider Dies at 58

Actress was conflicted about the 1973 erotic masterpiece that made her famous and appeared sporadically in films

Last Updated: February 3, 2011 @ 11:02 AM

French actress Maria Schneider has died after a long battle with cancer. She was 58.

Schneider came to prominence in 1973 as the 19-year old star of the erotic masterpiece "Last Tango in Paris," but the actress never matched those early heights.

Though she appeared opposite Jack Nicholson in Michelangelo Antonioni's 1975 "The Passenger," the seventies were a peripatetic time for Schneider, marked by drug addiction, suicide attempts and battles with depression. She rarely acted on-screen again. 

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Even "Last Tango," became a source of discomfort for Schneider, and the actress often had critical things to say about director Bernardo Bertolucci and co-star Marlon Brando.

Of the film's infamous sex scene involving butter, Schneider told London's Daily Mail, "I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped, both by Marlon and by Bertolucci."

"Last Tango"s' numerous full frontal nude scenes made Schneider reticent to shed her clothes on screen again. She was later dismissed from the set of "Caligula" for refusing to bare all, and checked into a mental hospital. 

For the most part, Schneider only appeared in low-budget European films such as "Mother Dracula" and "White Travel." However, she did return to American film again, playing the mad woman in the attic in 1996's "Jane Eyre."