Alain Siritzky, best known for producing the Emmanuelle series of erotic films, died Saturday in a Paris hospital after a short illness, his family told The Hollywood Reporter. He was 72.
In the early 1970s, Siritzky acquired the audiovisual rights to the popular 1959 novel Emmanuelle by Frenchwoman Emmanuelle Arsan. He then distributed Emmanuelle (1974), which starred Dutch actress and model Sylvia Kristel as the promiscuous wife of a French diplomat.
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The “soft-core” movie, filmed in Bangkok, was an immediate sensation in France and would play on the Champs Elysees for 13 years. Columbia Pictures, noticing that Emmanuelle attracted more women than men, snapped up the U.S. rights and made the film its first X-rated release, adding the marketing tagline, “X was never like this.”
Siritzky produced Emmanuelle II (1975) and would go on to create more than 80 Emmanuelle sequels for film, television and video. Krista Allen, Holly Sampson and Allie Haze were among the actresses who played the title character.
Siritzky acquired all Emmanuelle rights, including those for merchandise, in 2008, and a worldwide search for an unknown talent to play a new Emmanuelle was launched in Cannes that year.
“Myths never die, and in a fantasy world that has been dominated by male characters such as Superman, Spider-Man and James Bond, Emmanuelle remains the one French female character known and revered throughout the world,” Siritzky said at the time.
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Siritzky also produced a series of Sex Files films as well as Dead Man’s Curve (1998), starring Matthew Lillard.
Siritzky, born in New York City, had moved with his family to Paris when he was a youngster. He recently had split his time between homes in Paris and Los Angeles.
In an email to THR, director-producer Jan Wellmann recalled approaching Siritzky at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival. (He would go on to helm the Siritzky-produced 2008 film Sex and the USA.)
He asked Siritzky if anyone had ever calculated the number of teenagers who reached manhood with the help of Emmanuelle. “Over 1 billion, Jan,” he replied in all seriousness, Wellmann said.