Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot born 28 September 1934) is a French animal rights activist and a former actress, fashion model and singer.
In her early life Bardot was an aspiring ballet dancer. She started her acting career in 1952 and after appearing in 16 films became world-famous due to her role in the controversial film And God Created Woman. During her career in show business Bardot starred in 48 films, performed in numerous musical shows, and recorded 80 songs. After her retirement from the entertainment industry in 1973, Bardot established herself as an animal rights activist. During the 1990s she became outspoken in her criticism of immigration, race-mixing, some aspects of homosexuality and Islam in France, and has been fined five times for "inciting racial hatred".
Brigitte Bardot was born in Paris to Anne-Marie 'Toty' Mucel (1912–1978) and Louis 'Pilou' Bardot (1896–1975). Her father had an engineering degree and worked with her grandfather in the family business. Toty was sixteen years younger and they married in 1933. Brigitte's mother enrolled her and her younger sister Mijanou Bardot(Marie-Jeanne) ('Mijanou', born 5 May 1938) in dance. Mijanou eventually gave up on dancing lessons to complete her education whereas Brigitte decided to concentrate on a ballet career. In 1947, Bardot was accepted to The National Superior Conservatory of Paris for Music and Dance and for three years attended the ballet classes of Russian choreographer Boris Knyazev. (One of her classmates was Leslie Caron). By the invitation of her mother's acquaintance, she modeled in a fashion show in 1949. In the same year, she modeled for a fashion magazine "Jardin des Modes" managed by another friend of her mother, journalist Hélène Lazareff. She appeared on a 8 March 1950 cover of ELLE and was noticed by a young film director, Roger Vadim, while babysitting for a friend. He was so taken with the picture that he showed an issue of the magazine to director and screenwriter Marc Allégret who offered Bardot the opportunity to audition for "Les lauriers sont coupés" thereafter. Although Bardot got the role, the shooting of the film was cancelled but it made her consider becoming an actress. Moreover, her acquaintance with Vadim, who attended the audition, influenced her further life and career.
Although the European film industry was then in its ascendancy, Bardot was one of the few European actresses to receive mass media attention in the United States. She and Marilyn Monroe were perhaps the foremost examples of female sexuality in films of the 1950s and 1960s.
Brigitte Bardot debuted in a 1952 comedy film Le Trou Normand (English title: Crazy for Love). In the same year she married Roger Vadim. From 1952 to 1956 she appeared in seventeen films; in 1953 playing a part in Jean Anouilh's stageplay "L'Invitation au château" ("The Invitation to the Castle"). She received media attention when she attended the Cannes Film Festival in April 1953. "She is every man's idea of the girl he'd like to meet in Paris," wrote the film critic Ivon Addams in 1955.
Her films of the early and mid 1950s were generally lightweight romantic dramas, some of them historical, in which she was cast as ingénue or siren, often in varying states of undress. She played bit parts in three English-language films, the British comedy Doctor at Sea (1955), 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) with Kirk Douglas. Her French-language films were dubbed for international release.
Roger 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 immoral teenager in a respectable small-town setting, was a big international success.
There was a widely popular claim that Bardot did more for the French international trade balance than the entire French car industry.
In Bardot's early career professional photographer Sam Levin's photos contributed considerably to her image of sensuality. One of Levin's pictures show Brigitte from behind, dressed in a white corset. It is said that around 1960 postcards with this photograph outsold in Paris those of the Eiffel Tower.
British photographer Cornel Lucas shot Bardot in the 1950s and 1960s producing iconic images that have become representative of her public persona.
She divorced Vadim in 1957 and in 1959 married actor Jacques Charrier, with whom she starred in Babette Goes to War in 1959. The paparazzi preyed upon her marriage, while she and her husband clashed over the direction of her career. Her films became more substantial, but this brought a heavy pressure of dual celebrity as she sought critical acclaim while remaining a glamour model for most of the world.
Vie privée (1960), directed by Louis Malle has more than an element of her life story in it. The scene in which, returning to her apartment, Bardot's character is harangued in the elevator by a middle-aged cleaning lady calling her offensive names, was based on an actual incident, and is a resonant image of celebrity in the mid-20th century.
Soon afterwards Bardot withdrew to the seclusion of Southern France where she had bought the house La Madrague in Saint-Tropez in May 1958.
In 1963, she starred in Jean-Luc Godard's critically acclaimed film Contempt.
Brigitte Bardot was featured in many other films along with notable actors such as Alain Delon (Famous Love Affairs, Spirits of the Dead), Jean Gabin (In Case of Adversity), Sean Connery (Shalako), Jean Marais (Royal Affairs in Versailles, School for Love), Lino Ventura (Rum Runners), Annie Girardot (The Novices), Claudia Cardinale (The Legend of Frenchie King), Jeanne Moreau (Viva Maria!), Jane Birkin (Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman).
She participated in various musical shows and recorded many popular songs in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly in collaboration with Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Zagury and Sacha Distel, including "Harley Davidson", "Je Me Donne A Qui Me Plait", "Bubble gum", "Contact", "Je Reviendrais Toujours Vers Toi", "L'Appareil A Sous", "La Madrague", "On Demenage", "Sidonie", "Tu Veux, Ou Tu Veux Pas?", "Le Soleil De Ma Vie" (the cover of Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life") and the notorious "Je t'aime... moi non plus". Bardot pleaded with Gainsbourg not to release this duet and he complied with her wishes; the following year he re-recorded a version with British-born model and actress Jane Birkin which became a massive hit all over Europe.
On 21 December 1952, at the age of 18, Bardot married director Roger Vadim. In order to receive permission from Bardot's parents to marry her, Vadim, originally an Orthodox Christian, was urged to convert to Catholicism. They divorced five years later, but remained friends and collaborated in later work. Bardot had an affair with her And God Created Woman co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant (married at the time to French actress Stephane Audran) followed by her divorce from Vadim. The two lived together for about two years. Their relationship was complicated by Trintignant's frequent absence due to military service and Bardot's affair with musician Gilbert Bécaud, and they eventually separated.
The 9 February 1958 edition of the Los Angeles Times reported on the front page that Bardot was recovering in Italy from a reported nervous breakdown. A suicide attempt with sleeping pills two days earlier was denied by her public relations manager.
On 18 June 1959 she married actor Jacques Charrier, by whom she had her only child, a son, Nicolas-Jacques Charrier (born 11 January 1960). After she and Charrier divorced in 1962, Nicolas was raised in the Charrier family and did not maintain close contact with Bardot until his adulthood.
Bardot's other husbands were German millionaire playboy Gunter Sachs (14 July 1966 – 1 October 1969), and Bernard d'Ormale (16 August 1992 – present). She is reputed to have had relationships with many other men including her La Vérité co-star Sami Frey, musicians Serge Gainsbourg and Sacha Distel. In the late 1950s she shared an exchange she considered la croisée de deux sillages ("the crossing of two wakes") with actor and true crime author John Gilmore, then an actor in France who was working on a New Wave film with Jean Seberg. Gilmore told Paris Match: 'I felt a beautiful warmth with Bardot but found it difficult to discuss things in any depth whatsoever.' In the 1970s, she lived with the sculptor Miroslav Brozek and posed for some of his sculptures.
In 1974 Bardot appeared in a nude photo shoot in the Italian edition of Playboy magazine, which celebrated her 40th birthday.
In 1973 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 Serge Gainsbourg, she chose to use her fame to promote animal rights.
In 1986 she established the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals. She became a vegetarian and raised three million French francs to fund the foundation by auctioning off jewelry and many personal belongings. Today she is a strong animal rights activist and a major opponent of the consumption of horse meat. In support of animal protection, she condemned seal hunting in Canada during a visit to that country. She sought to discuss the issue with Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada, though her request for a meeting was denied.
She once had a neighbor's donkey castrated while looking after it, on the grounds of its "sexual harassment" of her own donkey and mare, for which she was taken to court by the donkey's owner in 1989. In 1999 Bardot wrote a letter to Chinese President Jiang Zemin, published in French magazine VSD, in which she accused the Chinese of "torturing bears and killing the world's last tigers and rhinos to make aphrodisiacs".
She has donated more than $140,000 over two years for a mass sterilization and adoption program for Bucharest's stray dogs, estimated to number 300,000. She is planning to house many of these stray animals in a new animal rescue facility that she is having built on her property.
Mentions of Bardot in music
The first song to reference Brigitte Bardot was "Gimme' that Wine" by vocalese group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross on the Columbia label in 1960.
Indie singer Jordan Galland also has a song called "Brigitte Bardot". In 1966, Harry Belafonte recorded "Zombie Jamboree" which has an entire verse dedicated to Brigitte Bardot.
Bardot has also been referenced in many other songs, including "I Shall Be Free" (Bob Dylan), "Mouth-to-Mouth Resuscitation" (John Hartford), We Didn't Start the Fire" (Billy Joel), "Message of Love" (The Pretenders), "I Think I'm Going To Kill Myself" (Elton John), "Warlocks" (Red Hot Chili Peppers), "You Went The Wrong Way, Old King Louie" (Allan Sherman), "You're My Favourite Star" (The Bellamy Brothers), "It's Not Enough" (The Who), "Contempt" (Silkworm), "Big Wedge" (Fish), "Brigitte Bardot" (Tom Zé), "Alegria, Alegria" (Caetano Veloso), "Loaded" (ZZ Top), "Brigitte Bardot" (Creature), "Bardot" (Marden Hill), "Moscow Discow" (Telex), "Shir Nevu'i Cosmi Aliz" (Yoni Rechter & Eli Mohar), "Smiles Like Richard Nixon" (The Bad Examples), "The Naughty Little Flea" (Miriam Makeba), "Bijou" (Stew), "Stratford-On-Guy" (Liz Phair), "Barbarella" (Paul Baribeau), "Brigitte Bardot T.N.T." (Pizzicato Five), "Zombie Jamboree" (Harry Belafonte), "Porta Portese" (Claudio Baglioni), "Aclimatándonos" (La Tabaré Riverock Banda) as well as "Force ou Faiblesse" by French rapper Disiz la Peste. Also, she gets mentioned in Irishman Damien Dempsey's 2007 single 'your pretty smile', American Singer Robin Thicke's single "Meiplé (Me I Play) Feat. Jay-z" in 2009.
Photograph Hand Oil Tinted by artist Margaret A. Rogers