January 23, 2004 11:00 AM

Photographer Helmut Newton, 83, whose sexy, stylish black-and-white images made him a fashion icon, was killed Friday in a car crash in Los Angeles.

Newton lost control of his Cadillac as he was leaving the Chateau Marmont hotel in Hollywood and crashed into a wall, police spokeswoman April Harding tells the Associated Press.

The car reportedly brushed an AP photographer (on hand for an unrelated assignment) before crashing. Newton was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and died a short time later, Harding said.

The Jewish, German-born photographer was best known for his nude and erotic images, with his shots appearing in magazines such as Elle, Playboy, Vogue and Vanity Fair. He also published numerous collections, including “White Women” and “Pola Women.”

Newton — who was born in 1920 and fled Germany for Singapore in 1938 as the Nazis stepped up their attacks on the Jews — eventually moved to Australia and then Monte Carlo with his wife, June.

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