'Last Tango in Paris' actress Maria Schneider dies

French actress Maria Schneider, best known for playing opposite Marlon Brando in the 1972 film "Last Tango in Paris," died Thursday aged 58 after a long illness, her family told AFP.

Schneider was 19 when she made the film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci whose graphic sex scenes sparked controversy and led to it being banned in several countries.

"Last Tango in Paris," the tale of a French girl and a middle-aged American who meet in a run-down apartment in Paris to have anonymous sex, won Oscar nominations for Bertolucci and Brando and catapulted Schneider to global fame.

Schneider will be buried at Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where she died, a family member said.

French Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand paid tribute to her "grave beauty, the detached irony of her look (and) the husky softness of her voice" and said she was a "great artist."

The actress battled drug addiction in the 1970s but later revived her career and acted in a string of films, including alongside Jack Nicholson in "The Passenger" and in the 1996 adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre."

Her last screen role was in the 2008 French movie "Cliente".

Schneider told a British tabloid that she "felt a little raped" by Bertolucci's insistence that she film a graphic sex scene with Brando in "Last Tango in Paris."

But she said that she and Brando "stayed friends until the end" and that "undoubtedly, my best experience about making the film was my encounter with Marlon."

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