Maria Schneider, the female lead from the controversial American seventies film, Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris, died Thursday in Paris following a lengthy illness according to her representatives.
She was a fresh-faced young French newcomer co-starring in a movie considered quite sensational in many ways, still well beyond anything an American actress might have been expected to tackle opposite an actor such as Marlon Brando, but then-nineteen-year-old Maria Schneider was from France, after all, where sensibilities were far different than what passes for conventional in American society, and not much has changed, and on that score not much has changed for the last three decades.
The movie that cemented her place in film lore raised more than a few eyebrows and helped define the decade of cinema it helped usher in. Last Tango in Paris, with it’s torrid, steamy sex scenes, earned an NC-17 rating — X in those days. Shot for under two million dollars, the box office totals were in excess of 36 million, a certifiable hit, especially in 1972 dollars.
The actress appeared in some two dozen films throughout her career. She was 58.