PARIS: French actress Maria Schneider on Thursday died in Paris at age 58 after a long undisclosed illness, Le Monde newspaper reported.
The actress, whose real name was Marie Christine Gelin, became famous worldwide after starring the controversial film "The Last Tango in Paris" alongside Marlon Brando. Her death was announced by her relatives.
Schneider was born in Paris on March 27, 1952. She was the daughter of French actor Daniel Gelin and Romanian-born Marie-Christine Schneider. Her film debut came in 1969 when she was only 17 years old.
However, her biggest accomplishment as an actress was in 1972 when director Bernardo Bertolucci casted her for his film "The Last Tango in Paris." Schneider played the role of a young engaged Parisian woman named Jeanne.
The film was banned in several countries due to its explicit content. Schneider appeared nude in several scenes as her character engaged in a sexually charged relationship with a middle-aged American businessman, played by Brando, in an apartment near the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.
The scandal stemmed mostly from an anal rape scene featuring the use of butter as a lubricant. The film was banned in the U.S., U.K., Spain and other countries but not in France.
The French actress later said that Brando came up with the butter scene idea. Due to the heavy critics received, Schneider never again played roles that required full or partial nudity.
"I was young, innocent; I did not understand what I was doing. Now, I regret it. All the fuss around me disoriented me," the actress said ten years after the film's release.
Schneider also endured a long battle with addictions during the 1970's. She succumbed to cocaine and heroin for seven years. In 1974, Schneider came out as bisexual. Finally, she rehabilitated in the 1980's.
Schneider also appeared in films such as "Jane Eyre" in 1996 and "Les Acteurs" (The Actors) in 2000, her last film ever. For the last decade, she distanced herself from public scrutiny.