(born September 28, 1934 in Paris to Charles "Pilou"
Bardot and Anne-Marie Mucel) is a French actress and model, daughter of an
industrialist. Also known simply as BB
("Bri-Bri" in childhood) she is
considered the embodiment of the 1950s "sex kitten."
In the 1970s Bardot established herself as an animal rights activist. During
the 1990s her controversial and outspoken political views on such issues as
immigration, Islam, and homosexuality greatly affected her reputation.
Bardot's beauty and natural sensuality began to show as a teenager and in
1952, she appeared on screen for the first time in Le Trou Normand. That
same year, at age 18, she married director Roger Vadim, with whom she had been
romantically involved for several years.
Although the European film industry was then in the ascendant, her personal
rise was remarkable: she has been one of the few European actresses to receive
mass media attention in the United States. She and Marilyn Monroe were the icons
of female sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s and whenever she made public
appearances in the United States the media hordes covered her every move.
Brigitte Bardot photographed in 2002
Her films of the early and mid 1950s were lightweight romantic dramas, some
of them historical, in which she was cast as ingénue or siren, often with an
element of undress. She played bit-parts in three English-language films, the
British comedy Doctor at Sea (1955), Warner Brothers' Helen of Troy
(1954), in which she was understudy for the title-role but only appears as
Helen's handmaid, and Act of Love (1954) wth Kirk Douglas. Her
French-language films were dubbed for internationally release. "She is every
man's idea of the girl he'd like to meet in Paris" said the film-critic Ivon
Addams in 1955.
Vadim was not content with this light fare. The New Wave of French and
Italian art directors and their stars were riding high internationally and he
felt Bardot was being undersold. Looking for something more like an art-film to
push her as a serious actress, he showcased her in And God Created Woman
(1956) with Jean-Louis Trintignant.
The film, about an amoral teenager in a respectable small-town setting, was a
big international success, riding on the back of Bardot's high profile as a
magazine celebrity and pin-up. She may have had an affair with her co-star
Trintignant, but this was more likely a pre-release publicity gimmick. The film
is often wrongly described as her first film (it was her seventeenth) and to
have launched her overnight, but it did help move her towards the cinematic
It also ruled out a transition to Hollywood, where she was thought too risqué
to handle. The Doris Day era was in still in full swing and even Jane Russell in
The French Line (1953) had been thought to be going too far by showing
her midriff. Fluffy erotica like Bardot's Cette sacrée gamine (That Crazy
Kid, 1955) was considered fine at the box-office as long as it was clearly
labelled "European". Also Bardot's limited English and strong accent (while
beguiling to the ears of men) did not suit rapid-fire Hollywood scripts. In the
event, staying in Europe benefited her image when the 1960s began to swing and
Hollywood slipped into the background for a while, and Bardot was voted honorary
sex-goddess to the decade.
Divorced from Vadim in 1957, she married actor Jacques Charrier (1959-62), by
whom in 1960 she had her only child, Nicolas-Jacques Charrier from whom
she is estranged. She once referred to her only child as "a tumour". The
marriage was preyed on by the paparazzi and there were clashes over Bardot's
career-direction. Her films did become more substantial, but this brought a
heavy pressure of dual celebrity as she sought critical acclaim while remaining
to most of the world a glamour model.
Vie privée (1960), directed by Louis Malle has more than an element of
autobiography in it. The scene in which, returning to her flat, Bardot's
character is harangued in the lift by a middle-aged cleaning-lady calling her a
tramp and a tart was based on an actual incident, and is a resonant image of
celebrity in the mid-20th century.
Soon after, Bardot withdrew to the seclusion of the South of France and is
now known to have attempted suicide, but as the sexual revolution of the early
1960s gathered momentum her lifetyle began to seem more like the norm and the
pressure lifted. She was happy through the sixties to appear in glossy
star-vehicles like Viva Maria (1969), to dabble in pop-music and to
perceive her main role as glamour model and icon. In 1965 she appeared as
herself in the Hollywood production Dear Brigitte starring Jimmy Stewart.
Her other husbands were German millionaire playboy Gunther Sachs (1966-69),
and French right-wing politician, Bernard d'Ormale (1992-present), with whom she
evidently has the best marital relationship in her history. She has also had
reputed relationships with many men including Serge Gainsbourg and Sacha Distel
(singers), and apparently with Jimi Hendrix after a chance meeting at the
airport in Paris.
She is recognized for popularizing bikini swimwear in early films such as
Manina (Woman without a Veil, 1952) and in her appearances at Cannes and in
many photo-shoots. She even sported an early version of the monokini (topless
bikini) from time to time. Though this was not considered extraordinary in
France, where nudity on beaches is common, it was considered nearly scandalous
in the US. The kooky fashions of the 1960s looked effortlessly right and
spontaneous on her and she joined (the now-deceased icons) Marilyn Monroe and
Jackie Kennedy, in becoming a subject for Andy Warhol paintings.
In 1970, the sculptor Alain Gourdon used Bardot as the model for a bust of
Marianne, the French national emblem.
Brigitte Bardot in 1968
In 1974, just before her fortieth birthday, Bardot announced her retirement.
After appearing in more than fifty motion pictures, and recording several music
albums, most notably with France's "bad boy" of music, Serge Gainsbourg, she
chose to use her fame to promote animal rights. She is accused of being a
misanthrope and preferring the company of animals to that of humans. In 1986,
she established the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of
Animals. She raised 3 million French francs to fund the foundation by auctioning
off her jewellery and many personal belongings. Today, she is one of the world's
most influential animal rights activists and a major opponent of the consumption
of horse meat.
She is also one of the most celebrated supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen of the
right-wing Front National political party, with which her husband is associated.
With the publication of her 2003 book, A Scream in the Silence, the
reclusive Bardot has come under considerable fire for racist, anti-Muslim, and
anti-gay comments. In May 2003, The MRAP ("Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour
l'Amitié entre les Peuples" - Movement against racism and for the friendship
among peoples) announced that it would sue Bardot for her published views.
Another organization, The "Ligue des Droits de l'Homme" (League of Human
Rights), announced that it was considering similar legal proceedings.
Bardot, in a letter to a French gay magazine, wrote in her defence, "Apart
from my husband—who maybe will cross over one day as well—I am entirely
surrounded by homos. For years they have been my support, my friends, my adopted
children, my confidants."
On June 10, 2004 Bardot was convicted by a French court of "inciting racial
hatred." She was fined 5,000 € and it is the fourth such conviction/fine she has
faced from French courts. These recent fines pertain to her aforementioned book.
In particular the courts cited passages where Bardot referred to the
"Islamization of France" and the "underground and dangerous infiltration of
Islam." (France's 5-million member Muslim community is the largest in Europe.)
In the book she also referred to homosexuals as "fairground freaks," and she
condemns the presence of women in government. Bardot's previous comments that
led to convictions included ones encouraging civilian massacres in Algeria.
- "She is the princess of pout, the countess of come hither. Brigitte Bardot
exuded a carefree, naïve sexuality that brought a whole new audience to French
films." Time Magazine
- "Well, my telephone rang it would not stop, / It's President Kennedy callin'
me up. / He said, "My friend, Bob, what do we need to make the country grow?" /
I said, "My friend, John, Brigitte Bardot, / Anita Ekberg, / Sophia Loren." /
Country'll grow." -- Bob Dylan, "I Shall Be Free," The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan,
||Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot
28 September 1934 (1934-09-28)
||1952 – 1973
||Roger Vadim (1952 – 1957)
Jacques Charrier (1959 – 1962)
Gunter Sachs (1966 – 1969)
Bernard d'Ormale (1992 – present)
- The Girl in the Bikini (1952)
- The Long Teeth (1952)
- Crazy for Love (1952)
- His Father's Portrait (1953)
- Act of Love (1953)
- Betrayed (1954)
- Royal Affairs in Versailles (1954)
- The Light Across the Street (1955)
- School for Love (1955)
- Caroline and the Rebels (1955)
- Doctor at Sea (1955)
- The Grand Maneuver (1955)
- Nero's Mistress (1956)
- Her Bridal Night (1956)
- Helen of Troy (1956)
- Naughty Girl (1956)
- Plucking the Daisy (1956)
- And God Created Woman (1956)
- La Parisienne (1957)
- The Night That Heaven Fell (1958)
- Love Is My Profession (1958)
- The Woman and the Puppet (1959)
- Babette Goes to War (1959)
- Come Dance with Me! (1959)
- The Testament of Orpheus (1960)
- It Happened All Night (1960) (Cameo)
- The Truth (1960)
- Please, Not Now (1961)
- Famous Love Affairs (1961)
- A Very Private Affair (1961)
- Lykke og krone (1962) (documentary)
- Love on a Pillow (1962)
- Contempt (1963)
- Paparazzi (1964) (short subject)
- Bardot and Godard (1964) (short subject)
- Agent 38-24-36 (1964)
- Forbidden Temptations (1965) (documentary)
- Marie Soleil (1965) (Cameo)
- Dear Brigitte (1965)
- Viva Maria! (1965)
- Masculine, Feminine: In 15 Acts (1966)
- Two Weeks in September (1967)
- Spirits of the Dead (1968)
- Shalako (1968)
- The Bear and the Doll (1969)
- The Vixen (1969)
- The Novices (1970)
- Rum Runners (1971)
- The Legend of Frenchie King (1971)
- Film Portrait (1972) (documentary)
- Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman (1973)
- The Edifying and Joyous Story of Colinot (1973)