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Maria Schneider, star of 'Last Tango in Paris' and 'The Passenger,' dies at 58

French actress Maria Schneider, whose role as Marlon Brando's lover in "Last Tango in Paris" won her lifelong fame but also an image that she found difficult to shake off, has died. She was 58.

Le Figaro newspaper quoted her family as saying she had died Thursday morning in Paris after a long illness.

The daughter of French actor Daniel Gelin and a Parisian bookshop owner, Schneider was 19 when she was cast opposite Brando, who was 48.

Director Bernardo Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris" was controversial at the time of its release in 1972 for its sexual content, and Schneider later struggled with her image as a sex symbol, refusing to appear in a nude scene ever again.

"I was too young to know better," Schneider said in a 2007 interview with Britain's Daily Mail newspaper. "Marlon later said that he felt manipulated, and he was Marlon Brando, so you can imagine how I felt. People thought I was like the girl in the movie, but that wasn't me.

"I felt very sad because I was treated like a sex symbol -- I wanted to be recognized as an actress and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown."

Although Schneider appeared opposite Jack Nicholson in "The Passenger" in 1975 (see YouTube clip below), her subsequent acting career consisted mostly of undistinguished, low-budget European films such as "Memoirs of a French Whore" (1979) and "Mama Dracula" (1980).

The complete Times obituary is here.

-- Reuters

Photo: Maria Schneider with director Bernardo Bertolucci, left, and co-star Marlon Brando during the filming of "Last Tango in Paris." Credit: United Artists Corp.



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