France gives Bardot 1st exhibit
BRIGITTE Bardot, the 1950s sex goddess who became a feminist icon and symbol of sexual liberation, turns 75 on Monday with her native France at her feet and a very first exhibition in her honour. The Paris show gathering some 2,000 photos, films and mementos - few of them hers - spans B.B.'s life and times from her teens, when she rocketed to stardom, to her retirement aged just 39 in 1973.
They include portraits by Andy Warhol on loan from her third husband, millionaire German playboy Gunter Sachs, and the gingham wedding dress she wore for husband number two, Jacques Charrier, which made country-bumpkin pink gingham stylish worldwide.
Now a virtual recluse who walks on crutches because of arthritis, Bardot will neither attend the Tuesday launch of the giant exhibit - Brigitte Bardot: The Carefree Years - nor appear on camera.
One of the 20th century's last living icons, the little girl who loved stuffed animals and ballet dancing grew up to become a cult figure of freedom. From teen idol to fashion goddess to sex bomb, Bardot wound up embodying the spirit of the times - the empowerment of women and the tide of sexual liberation.
Brigitte Anne-Marie (born 28 September 1934) is a French actress, fashion model and animal welfare/rights activist .
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 convicted 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 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 canceled 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.
In hindsight, light comedies suited Brigitte Bardot's acting skills best. A fine example is her 'Une Parisienne' from 1957, one of the few of her films of which she has said she feels proud.
There was a widely popular claim that Brigitte 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 and slight immorality. 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, renowned photographer, Cornel Lucas shot Bardot in the 1950's and 1960's producing iconic images, images that have become representative of the way in which we remember this star www.cornellucascollection.com
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 American magazine Playboy, 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.
Politics, controversy and legal issues
Brigitte Bardot (2002)
Bardot expressed support for President Charles de Gaulle in the 1960s. Her husband Bernard d'Ormal is a former adviser of the far right "Front National" party. Bardot has been convicted five times for "inciting racial hatred".
In 1997 she was fined for her comments published in Le Figaro newspaper .
In 1998 she was convicted for making a statement about the growing number of mosques in France .
In a book she wrote in 1999, called "Le Carre de Pluton" (Pluto's Square), she criticizes the procedure used in the ritual slaughter of sheep during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha. For the comments, a French court fined her 30,000 francs in June 2000.
In a 2001 article named, Open Letter to My Lost France, she said: "...my country, France, my homeland, my land is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially Muslims."
In her 2003 book, A Scream in the Silence, she warned of the “Islamicization of France”, and said of Muslim immigration:
"Over the last twenty years, we have given in to a subterranean, dangerous, and uncontrolled infiltration, which not only resists adjusting to our laws and customs but which will, as the years pass, attempt to impose its own."
In the book, she talks about her close homosexual friends, comparing them to today's homosexuals who, "jiggle their bottoms, put their little fingers in the air and with their little castrato voices moan about what those ghastly heteros put them through". She says French politicians are, "weather vanes who turn left or right as the fancy takes them... Not even French prostitutes are what they used to be". She says modern art has become "shit—literally as well as figuratively."
In her defense, Bardot wrote a letter to a French gay magazine, saying, "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."
In May 2003 the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship between Peoples announced they were going to sue Bardot. The "Ligue des Droits de l'Homme" (The Human Rights League) announced they were considering similar legal proceedings.
On 10 June 2004 Bardot was convicted by a French court of "inciting racial hatred" and fined €5,000, the fourth such conviction/fine she has received from French courts. The courts cited passages where Bardot referred to the "Islamisation of France" and the "underground and dangerous infiltration of Islam" . Bardot's book also attacked "the mixing of genes" and compared her beliefs with previous generations who had "given their lives to push out invaders".
Bardot denied the "racial hatred" charge and apologized in court, saying: "I never knowingly wanted to hurt anybody. It is not in my character."
In 2008, she was convicted of inciting racial/religious hatred in relation to a letter she wrote, a copy of which she sent to Nicolas Sarkozy when he was Interior Minister of France. The letter stated her objections to Muslims in France ritually slaughtering sheep by slitting their throats without stunning them first. She also objected to France's rapidly growing Muslim community "trying to take over France and impose their culture, values, lifestyles" etc. on France and its native people. The trial concluded on 3 June 2008, with a conviction and fine of fifteen thousand Euros, the largest of her fines to date. The prosecutor stated that she was tired of charging Bardot with offences related to "racial hatred".
In fashion the Bardot neckline (a wide open neck that exposes both shoulders) is named after her. Bardot popularized this style which is especially used for knitted sweaters or jumpers although it is also used for other tops and dresses.
Bardot is recognised for popularizing bikini swimwear in early films such as Manina (Woman without a Veil, 1952), in her appearances at Cannes and in many photo shoots.
Bardot also brought into fashion the choucroute ("Sauerkraut") hairstyle (a sort of beehive hair style) and gingham clothes after wearing a checkered pink dress, designed by Jacques Esterel, at her wedding to Charrier. She was the subject for an Andy Warhol painting.
In addition to popularizing the bikini swimming suit, Bardot has also been credited with popularizing the city of St. Tropez and the town of Buzios, Brazil, which she visited in 1964 with her boyfriend at the time, Brazilian musician Bob Zagury. A statue by Christina Motta honours Brigitte Bardot in Buzios, Brazil.
Bardot was idolized by young John Lennon and Paul McCartney . They made plans to shoot a film featuring The Beatles and Bardot, similar to A Hard Day's Night, but the plans were never fulfilled. Lennon's first wife Cynthia Powell lightened her hair color to more closely resemble Bardot, while George Harrison made comparisons between Bardot and his first wife Pattie Boyd, as Cynthia wrote later in A Twist of Lennon. Lennon and Bardot met in person once, in 1968 at the Mayfair Hotel, introduced by Beatles press agent Derek Taylor; a nervous Lennon took LSD before arriving, and neither star impressed the other. (Lennon recalled in a memoir, "I was on acid, and she was on her way out.")
According to the liner notes of his first (self-titled) album, musician Bob Dylan dedicated the first song he ever wrote to Bardot. He also mentioned her by name in "I Shall Be Free", which appeared on his second album, The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.
She dabbled in pop music and played the role of a glamour model. In 1965 she appeared as herself in the Hollywood production Dear Brigitte (1965) starring James Stewart.
In 1970 the sculptor Alain Gourdon used Bardot as the model for a bust of Marianne, the French national emblem.
In 2007 she was named among Empire's 100 Sexiest Film Stars.
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), "Quicksand" (David Bowie), "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), "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) as well as "Force ou Faiblesse" by French rapper Disiz la Peste. And in Irishman Damien Dempsey's 2007 single 'your pretty smile'.