Last tango for Maria Schneider: 1952 - 2011

Some actresses are the flavor of the month. Catlike Maria Schneider, the voluptuous, pillow-lipped brunette with the confrontational gaze of Manet's "Olympia" who died of cancer in Paris at 58, was the flavor of a decade, the 1970s. She was 19 when Bernardo Bertolucci cast her in Last Tango in Paris (1972), as the girl who has anonymous sex with the grieving Marlon Brando in an abandoned Paris flat. She served a similar erotic function in Michelangelo Antonioni's existential allegory The Passenger (1975) , as the Girl to Jack Nicholson's title character.

The arthouse centerfold, daughter of French actor Daniel Gelin, was slated to star in Luis Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire but dropped out of the production at the eleventh hour (to be replaced by Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina). 

Shortly after completing The Passenger, Schneider checked herself into a mental hospital in Rome and was outspoken about having been objectified by both Brando and Bertolucci in the sexually candid Last Tango. She continued to act in French films until shortly before her death. Only two major films, but what a two!