32 Photos That Show A Different Side Of Brigitte Bardot's Life
Who was Brigitte Bardot?
Brigitte Ann-Marie Bardot has been so many things in her lifetime. A sex symbol, a fashion icon, and eventually an animal rights activist. The French actress, singer, and model often referred to by her initials, B.B., shocked the world when she walked away from her career at just 39-years old.
This early retirement may have been prompted by her exhaustion and a desire to focus on animal rights but it also immortalized her former image. Her onscreen presence is now encased in amber, a separate lifetime from the one in which she exists now.
Brigitte Ann-Marie Bardot, love interest extraordinaire of the '50s and '60s, gained her reputation from appearing in racy European films and leading a defiantly liberated lifestyle. Bardot at the height of her powers was the French siren no man could resist. The public image of Bardot, those photos and posters that have been printed endlessly, represent a role she played to perfection, but there's more to her story. In addition to being a model, movie star, and fashion icon, she's also a successful author and an animal rights activist.
Brigitte Bardot Plays With Her Blonde Locks, 1965
After several failed marriages, a battle with depression, and surviving breast cancer, Bardot has more than proven to have a fierce inner strength. She’s lived an extraordinary life and continues to do so with joie de vivre–the exuberant enjoyment of life. Continue reading to learn about her ups and downs, how she inspired Bob Dylan, and where she went when she left the entertainment world in the rear view mirror.
Dive Into The Unknown Life Of Bardot
In order to truly understand the beautiful life of Bardot, we must start at the very beginning. Take the time to learn about her childhood, teens, young adulthood, and even the present day Brigitte...and you will have a new found appreciation for one of the most beautiful humans to ever grace this Earth....
Her First Love Was Ballet
Bardot wanted to be a ballerina early in her life and attended ballet school for three years beginning in 1947. At the invitation her mother's friend, she modeled in a fashion show in 1949 and in the same year she modeled for the fashion magazine Jardin des Modes. Aged 15, she was noticed by a young film director while babysitting. He showed photos of her from an issue of Elle magazine, which she had appeared on the cover, to a director and screenwriter who offered Bardot the opportunity to audition for a role in his upcoming film. Although Bardot got the role, the film was cancelled but made her consider becoming an actress. She started her acting career in 1952. After appearing in 16 routine comedy films that had limited international release, she became world-famous in 1957 after starring in the controversial film And God Created Woman.
Brigitte Bardot was raised in a well-off family
Brigitte Bardot was born in Paris, on September 28, 1934, to Louis Bardot and Anne-Marie “Toty” Bardot. Bridget grew up in an upper-middle-class, Roman Catholic household. She has a younger sister, Marie-Jeanne, who also grew up to be an actress and writer. Her father had an engineering degree and worked with his father Charles Bardot. Together they ran a family-owned business.
She began dancing at the age of seven
Brigitte entered the Cours Hattemer, a private school when she was seven, she only attended three days a week, studying from home the rest of the week. She also took dance lessons at Madame Bourget’s dance studio three days a week. She was a dedicated dancer and hard working even at a young age.
Her sister quit dance but Brigitte remained disciplined
Brigitte’s little sister, Marie-Jeanne was born 5 May 1938 and was enrolled in the same school as Brigitte. While she possessed the signature Bardot beauty and similar talents as her sister, she wasn’t all that into dance. Marie dropped out of dance lessons in secret so as not to disappoint their mother. Bridget, on the other hand, remained dedicated to her craft and concentrated on ballet.
Bardot was accepted by the Conservatoire de Paris
All that hard work paid off, in 1947, Bardot was accepted by the Conservatoire de Paris. There she was able to really hone her skills and attended ballet classes by Russian choreographer Boris Knyazev for three years. The doe-eyed beauty also earned the nickname “Bichette” which translates to “Little Doe” from her fellow ballerinas there.
She was given the cover of Elle Magazine at fifteen
In 1949, at 14-years-old she was invited to model in a fashion show. Soon after the show, she modeled for the fashion magazine Jardin des Modes. A year later she was a cover girl. At 15-years-old she was on the March 8, 1950, cover of Elle Magazine. Each gig soon led to the next, a domino effect leading her towards inevitable fame began at a very young age.
Director Roger Vadim was instrumental in launching Bardot's acting career
Once she started acting it seemed she couldn't stop
Bardot married Roger Vadim once she turned eighteen
After working side by side and getting to know each other, Bardot married Director Roger Vadim in December of 1952, just after her eighteenth birthday. He played a large role in establishing Bardot's career. He cast her in And God Created Woman in 1956 and it was a hit. Bardot became an international star seemingly overnight. And to think, it was all because he was enchanted by her Elle Magazine cover in 1950.
Her marriage ended after she had multiple affairs
Sadly, Bardot and Vadim were divorced by 1957 because Bardot had been unfaithful to him. She had affairs with two other men during their marriage but they managed to remain on pretty good terms after their divorce. Vadim was even willing to work with her on a few projects years afterward.
Bardot suffered a breakdown after losing her husband and her lover
Bardot had been seeing Jean-Louis Trintignant since 1956, but their affair ended in 1958, shortly after her marriage fell apart. She then, allegedly suffered some kind of nervous breakdown while staying in a hotel in Italy. She reportedly attempted to commit suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills but these allegations were later denied.
She Remarried And Had A Child With Actor Jacques Charrier
She managed to heal her heartbreak quickly. Within weeks, she began an affair with actor Jacques Charrier. She became pregnant and the two married on June 18, 1959, their baby was born in January of 1960. Bardot had very little contact with her only child after her divorce from Charrier in 1962. Her son Nicolas-Jacques Charrier was raised in the Charrier family.
Bardot became a world renown fashion icon
Bardot became a fashion icon, setting trends left and right. It was Bardot who popularized wide neck tops that expose the shoulders, especially in knitted sweaters. Because of this, the cut became known as the "Bardot neckline," after her. Bardot’s early work like Manina (1952) also helped to popularize the once “scandalous” bikini.
Bardot was the embodiment of style, grace, and beauty
Even other idols were taken with her
Even The Beatles idolized her. You know you’ve got something special when the world's idols are idolizing you. That’s exactly the Bardot possessed, that je ne sais quoi. John Lennon and Paul McCartney both had massive crushes on Brigitte Bardot. John Lennon was the most vocal about his admiration for the pouty blonde. She was his adolescent dream girl that he never grew out of.
She almost shot a film with The Beatles
The Beatles and Bardot had intended on shooting a film together. Something similar to A Hard Day’s Night, but it fell through. The admiration for her was so great, Lennon’s first wife Cynthia Powell colored her hair and tried to resemble Bardot to keep John’s interest. George Harrison’s first wife Pattie Boyd naturally resembled Bardot, they could have been sisters.
She met John Lennon while he was on acid
Beatles press agent Derek Taylor ended up introducing Bardot and Lennon. They only met once in person, it was in 1968 at the Mayfair Hotel. Lennon was a nervous wreck and on acid. Needless to say, there weren’t any fireworks between the two, at least none that Bardot could see.
She was once Bob Dylan's muse
Bardot was Bob Dylan’s muse for a time as well. In fact, he dedicated the first song he ever wrote to Bardot. In his second album, he mentions her by name in “I Shall Be Free.”
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…”
She wanted to make her own kind of music
She decided she'd been a muse for others long enough and wanted to try her hand at music as well. She embarked on her own musical career in the 1960s, recording hits with the French vocalist/songwriter/lounge-man Serge Gainsbourg. She also released her own albums like "Brigitte Bardot Sings" and "Special Bardot."
She retired from the spotlight at the height of her career
Bardot announced her retirement in 1973. She was approaching 39-years old and had already been in over forty motion pictures, recorded several music albums, and had been dancing and modeling since childhood. She began to devote her time to a cause she believed in and used her fame to promote animal rights.
She shifted her focus to animal rights full-time
Bardot established the Foundation for the Protection of Distressed Animals in the mid-1970s. Then she went on to found the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals in the mid-1980s. Her efforts were the driving force behind the Council of Europe’s ban on the importation of seal fur and the French government’s ban on ivory imports.
She authored five books
Her third marriage was to German millionaire Gunter Sachs
Bardot's third marriage was to Gunter Sachs. A German millionaire (and playboy) who once flew over her villa so he could literally shower her with roses. He had hundreds of red roses poured over her home on the French Riviera. It was a whirlwind romance that turned into a marriage that only lasted from 1966 to 1969.
She overdosed on her 49th birthday
She had many love affairs since her divorce from Gunter Sachs in 1969, a ski instructor, a club owner, a few musicians. She dated writer John Gilmore and actor Warren Beatty for a while but none of them lasted or could cure her depression. It was her 49th birthday, September 28, 1983, when Bardot overdosed on sleeping pills again. She’d gulped them down with red wine and this time had to be rushed to the hospital to get her stomach pumped.
She later admitted to feeling trapped by her image
When asked in an interview if she grew up thinking she was beautiful, she simply replied, “No, I was ugly.” In later years, Bardot spoke of feeling as if she were a victim of her image, it made her feel imprisoned. She doesn’t regret retiring in 1973 at the height of her fame. That lifestyle wasn’t satisfying to her and she’s been doing remarkably well since she started following her own passions.
Bardot finally got her happily ever after
Bardot got married a fourth time, this time she waited for 23-years after her last divorce. She married Bernard d'Ormale on August 16, 1992, and the two are still together today. The happy couple has been together for over 20-years now, living in La Madrague. The former businessman now devotes much of himself to his wife, they rarely leave their peaceful enclave.
Bardot is a breast cancer survivor
It wasn't until her early 50s when Brigitte Bardot was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent surgery in France and then went on to receive radiation treatment afterward. Thankfully, her treatment was successful. She survived and details of her illness were not highly publicized until after the fact.
Bardot is still an animal rights activist
Still the animal rights activist, today Bardot’s life is full of work for her foundation. This entails extensive communication with civil servants, government ministers, foreign heads of state and really anyone who can help further her cause. She also has her loving husband and what basically amounts to a farm to tend to. Bardot’s pets include (but are not limited to) dogs, goats, sheep, pigs, geese, ducks, nearly 50 horses, and around 20 cats.
Joie De Vivre
After several failed marriages, a battle with depression, and surviving breast cancer, Bardot has more than proven to have a fierce inner strength. She’s lived an extraordinary life and continues to do so with joie de vivre–the exuberant enjoyment of life.