Exotic beauty Sylvia was born Tatjana Bernt in Paris, France on November 10th 1933, daughter of a German mother (various websites claim she was born in Vienna, while other magazine articles say Spain, but in an interview found on You Tube she confirms Paris to be correct). From magazines articles it seems her father may have been Russian.
After graduating from the Lycée in Paris, fluent in 6 languages, she was discovered by designer Jacques Fath, which led to her adopting the stage name Sylvia Sinclair and modelling for American Vogue (some acticles claim she appeared on the cover, but I was unable to recognise her from the covers on the Vogue website).
She launched a career in the entertainment industry in 1956 and made her film debut in the French production Baratin. She divorced her first husband, industrialist Harry Herman, after she met composer and producer Francis Lopez while making Cinq millions comptant in 1957. After marrying Lopez she adopted his surname for her professional name. She scored an impressive leading role in the 1958 French musical Tabarin, in which she sang several numbers which were released on record. This led to her getting the call from the Italian film industry, where she became an early leading lady in the then-booming peplum genre. Her 3 peplum leads were big international successes opposite some of the genres biggest stars, Steve Reeves (with whom she was rumoured to be romantically involved), Edmund Purdom and Lex Barker.
Tragically, shortly after beginning work filming Voulez-vous danser avec moi? opposite Brigitte Bardot, she contracted leukemia, and died suddenly in Paris on November 20th 1959, aged only 26. She is interred at the cemetery Montparnasse in Paris.
One of several leading ladies of peplum to die before their time, as wicked Queen Omphale in Ercole e la regina di Lidia she gave us one of the most iconic performances of the genre, one which has ensured her memory still survives today.
- Baratin .... Patricia (credited as "Tania Karen")
- Cinq millions comptant .... Loulou (credited as "Sylvia Sinclair")
- Tabarin .... Florence Didier (credited)
- Ercole e la regina di Lidia .... Queen Omphale (credited)
- Erode il grande .... Miriam (credited)
- Il figlio del corsaro rosso .... Carmen di Montélimar (credited)
- Interview (1959) There is a 7 minute interview with Sylvia to be found on You Tube, the source is unknown but it can be dated from the films she discusses.
There is one additional film role for Sylvia that I have so far been unable to find (plus one reported TV appearance).
- Mademoiselle et son gang (1957) credited as Sylvia Sainclair, as Marie-Christine. It looks like she was quite low in the cast list here and her name did not appear on the posters.
- Cinépanorama (1959) French TV documentary series, IMDb lists her as appearing in the edition which aired on November 28th 1959. Since this dates from shortly after her death it is likely an obituary and not the source of the You Tube interview.
There always has to be one!
- Il moralista (1959) Various websites list her as appearing in an uncredited bit part as "Woman in the Nightclub in Munich", but I have searched through the nightclub scenes in the film and, as far as I could find, she is nowhere to be seen.