Arguably one of the biggest trendsetters of our time and film’s first “sex kitten”, Brigitte Bardot has been in the spotlight since her early teens wowing audiences (mostly men) with her explosive sexuality and natural performance talent. Despite retiring from the world of film at 39, her legacy has been cemented as a true icon that managed to grasp and hold on to the mass media’s attention at a time when European cinema was still in its ascendency.
Brigitte Bardot was born on September 28, 1934, in Paris, France . Enrolled at dance school at a young age alongside her sister, Bardot proved to be very talented and consequently aspired to pursue a career in ballet. In 1947 she was accepted to The National Superior Conservatory of Paris and attended for three years under the tutelage of choreographer Boris Knyazev. A natural beauty, she was in the French magazine “Elle” by the age of 15 and modeled for the fashion magazine ‘Jardin des Modes’. In 1950 she appeared on the cover of the March edition of “Elle” which caught the eye of young film director Roger Vadim. Taken by her beauty he showed the picture to director Marc Allegret who offered Bardot an audition for Les Lauriers sont coupés. Vadim would later play a big role in Bardot’s life and career.
Marrying Vadim in 1952 she also debuted with the comedy Le Trou Normand. Bardot went on to appear in seventeen films. In 1953, she received great media attention playing a part in L’Invitation au château. All of her early films in the 1950s were generally of a lighter nature with bit parts in three English-language films: the comedy Doctor at Sea (1955), Helen of Troy (1954) and Act of Love (1954) with Kirk Douglas. Many of her French films were also dubbed for international release. Her husband Vadim however was not satisfied that Bardot was used to her full potential and in 1956 pushed her as a serious actress, showcasing her in And God Created Woman alongside Jean-Louise Trintignant. Despite perhaps the film being seen clearly as a vehicle for Bardot at the time, it utilized both her acting and physical attributes and was an international success.
As her career blossomed, Bardot starting gaining roles with more substance whilst maintaining her public persona as glamour figure. She was the subject of many renowned photographers who stylized her into the pages of history with a stream of iconic images. Integrating elements of her life story Vie Privée (1960) earned Bardot a ‘David di Donatello Award’ for best foreign actress and despite following this with a break from acting she returned with another critically acclaimed performance in 1963 in Jean Luc-Godard’s Contempt.
Brigitte Bardot was featured in many other films alongside a host of notable actors such as Sean Connery in Shalako (1968), Lino Ventura in Rum Runners (1971), Claudia Cardinale in the Les petroleuses (1971) and Jane Birkin in Don Juan (1973).
PERSONAL LIFE & AWARDS
While the entertainment business allowed Bardot to build a respectable career and brought with it fame and fortune she ultimately preferred life away from the cameras and retired from the industry in 1973. Brigitte Bardot has had a rollercoaster of a life, which has spanned four marriages (current husband is Bernard d’Ormale) and ultimately four careers each with its own driving goal and passion. Aside from a being renowned actress -which included being nominated for a BAFTA in 1965 for Viva Maria!- Bardot has been a successful singer recording many hits between the 1960s and 70s and performing at shows and events. A leading figure in the world of fashion; her look is still coveted and has been the inspiration of many artists and photographers. In 1986 she established the ‘Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals’ and raised the funds for this cause by auctioning off her jewelry and many personal belongings. She was once quoted:
“If I could do anything about the way people behave towards each other, I would, but since I can’t I’ll stick to animals.”
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