Nationality: French. Born: Paris, 28 September 1934. Education: Studied ballet as a child. Family: Married 1) the director Roger Vadim, 1952 (divorced 1957); 2) the actor Jacques Charrier, 1959 (divorced), son: Nicholas Jacques; 3) Gunther Sachs, 1966 (marriage dissolved 1969); 4) Bernard d'Ormale, 1992. Career: 1948—a "dancing model" for fashion show in mother's shop; established as popular model by 1949: appeared on cover of Elle as "BB" or "Bébé"; 1952—film debut; 1955—refused offer by Warners of seven-year contract; 1957—New York premiere of And . . . God Created Woman established U.S. stardom; 1957—three-picture deal with Columbia for French productions featuring Bardot; 1976—formed the Foundation for the Protection of Distressed Animals; 1978—speaks before the Council of Europe against the slaughter of baby seals. Awards: Crystal Star of L'Acádemie du cinema, 1966; Chevalier dans l'ordre national de la légion d'honneur, 1985.
Films as Actress:
Le Trou normand (Crazy for Love) (Boyer) (as Javotte Lemoine); Manina, la fille sans voiles (The Lighthouse Keeper's Daughter; The Girl in the Bikini) (Rozier) (as Manina); Les Dents longues (Gélin)
Act of Love (Litvak) (as Mimi); Le Portrait de son père (Berthomieu) (as Domino); Si Versailles m'était conté (Affairs in Versailles; Royal Affairs in Versailles) (Guitry) (as Mlle. de Rosille)
Tradita (La Notte del nozze; Night of Love) (Bonnard) (as Anna); Futures vedettes (Sweet Sixteen) (Marc Allégret); Le Fils de Caroline chérie (Devaivre)
Helen of Troy (Wise) (as Andraste); Doctor at Sea (Thomas) (as Helene Colbert); La Lumière d'en face (The Light across the Street; The Female and the Flesh) (Lacombe) (as Olivia Marceau); Les Grandes Manoeuvres (Summer Manoeuvres; The Grand Maneuver) (Clair) (as Lucie); Cette Sacrée gamine (Mam'zell Pigalle) (Boisrond)
Mio figlio Nerone (Nero's Mistress; Nero's Weekend) (Steno) (as Poppaea); En effeuillant la Marguerite (Mam'selle Striptease; Please, Mr. Balzac; While Plucking the Daisy) (Marc Allégret); Et . . . Dieu créa la femme (And . . . God Created Woman) (Vadim) (as Juliette Hardy); La Mariée est trop belle (The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful) (Gaspard-Huit) (as Chouchou)
Une Parisienne (La Parisienne) (Boisrond) (as Brigitte Laurier); Les Bijoutiers du clair de lune (The Night Heaven Fell; Heaven Fell that Night) (Vadim) (as Ursula Desfontaines)
En cas de malheur (Love Is My Profession; In Case of Adversity) (Autant-Lara) (as Yvette); La Femme et le pantin (A Woman Like Satan; The Female; The Woman and the Puppet) (Duvivier) (as Eva)
Babette s'en va-t-en guerre (Babette Goes to War) (Christian-Jaque) (title role); Voulez-vous danser avec moi? (Come Dance with Me) (Boisrond) (as Virginia); Le Testament d'Orphée (The Testament of Orpheus) (Cocteau) (as herself)
La Vérité (The Truth) (Clouzot) (as Dominique Marceau); L'Affaire d'une nuit (It Happened at Night) (Verneuil)
La Bride sur le cou (Please, Not Now!) (Vadim and Aurel) (as Sophie); "Agnès Bernauer" ep. of Amours célèbres (Boisrond)
Le Repos du guerrier (Il Riposo del guerriero; Warrior's Rest; Love on a Pillow) (Vadim) (as Genevieve Le Theil); La Vie privée (A Very Private Affair) (Malle) (as Jill)
Tentazioni proibite (Civirani); Le Mépris (Contempt) (Godard) (as Camille Javal)
Paparazzi (Rozier—doc); Marie Soleil (Bourseiller); Une ravissante idiote (A Ravishing Idiot; Adorable Idiot; Agent 38–24-36; The Warm-Blooded Spy) (Molinaro) (as Penelope Light Feather)
Viva Maria (Malle) (as Maria Fitzgerald O'Malley/Maria II); Dear Brigitte (Koster) (as herself)
Masculin-féminin (Masculine-Feminine) (Godard) (as woman in a couple)
A coeur joie (Two Weeks in September) (Bourguignon) (as Cecile)
Shalako (Dmytryk) (as Countess Irina Lazaar); "William Wilson" ep. of Histoires extraordinaires (Tales of Mystery; Spirits of the Dead) (Malle) (as Giuseppina)
Les Femmes (Aurel) (as Clara); L'Ours et la poupée (The Bear and the Doll) (Deville) (as Felicia)
Les Novices (The Novices) (Casaril)
Les Pétroleuses (The Legend of Frenchie King; The Petroleum Girls) (Christian-Jaque) (as Frenchie); Boulevard du rhum (Rum Runner) (Enrico)
Don Juan 1973 ou Si Don Juan était une femme (Ms. Don Juan; Don Juan, or if Don Juan Were a Woman) (Vadim); L'Histoire très bonne et très joyeuse de Colinot Trousse-Chemise (The Happy and Joyous Story of Colinot, the Man Who Pulls Up Skirts; Colinot) (Companeez); Il soriso delgrande tentatore (The Tempter; The Devil Is a Woman) (Damiani)
By BARDOT: article—
"B.B. contestatã de Bardot," interview with M. Alexandrescu, in Cinema (RM), April 1973.
"Brigitte Bardot, ovvero: vive la difference!" interview with Giorgio Cremonini, June 1983.
"And God Created an Animal Lover," interview with Alan Riding, in New York Times, 30 March 1994.
On BARDOT: books—
Carpozi, George, The Brigitte Bardot Story, New York, 1961.
de Beauvoir, Simone, Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome, London, 1961.
Evans, Peter, Bardot: Eternal Sex Goddess, New York, 1973.
Rosen, Marjorie, Popcorn Venus, New York, 1973.
Crawley, Tony, Bebe: The Films of Brigitte Bardot, London, 1975; rev. ed., Secaucus, New Jersey, 1994.
Frischauer, Willi, Bardot: An Intimate Biography, London, 1978.
Roberts, Glenys, Bardot: A Personal Biography, London, 1984.
Rihoit, Catherine, Brigitte Bardot: un mythe français, Paris, 1986.
Vadim, Roger, Bardot, Deneuve and Fonda: The Memoirs of Roger Vadim, New York, 1986.
Alion, Yves, Brigitte Bardot, Paris, 1989.
Choko, Stanislas, Brigitte Bardot à l'affiche, Paris, 1992.
French, Sean, Bardot, London, 1994.
Robinson, Jeffrey, Bardot: An Intimate Portrait, New York, 1994.
On BARDOT: articles—
Current Biography 1960, New York, 1960.
Silke, J., "The Tragic Mask of Bardolatry," in Cinema, (Beverly Hills), no. 2, 1962.
Durgnat, Rayond, "B. B.," in Films and Filming (London), January 1963.
Maurois, A., "B. B.: The Sex Kitten Grows Up," in Playboy, (Chicago), July 1964.
"B. B. Mythe ou femme?," in Cinéma (Paris), May 1973.
Beylie, C., and G. Braucourt, "Seven Women and Seven Women," in Ecran (Paris), August-September 1974.
Grant, J., "Une Femme et des pantins," in Cinéma (Paris), May 1977.
Sarne, M., "A Definition of Stardom," in Films and Filming (London), October 1978.
Williamson, Bruce, "Brigitte Bardot," in The Movie Star, edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.
Izzo, J.-C., "Bardot: bonheur perdu," in Cinéma (Paris), 17 February 1988.
Vincendeau, Ginette, "L'ancien et le nouveau: Brigitte Bardot dans les années," in CinémAction, March 1993.
Ramasse, François, "Et le scandale arriva," in Télérama (Paris), August 31, 1994.
Naddaf, Roswitha, "60 Jahre und ein bisschen weise? Brigitte Bardot zum Geburtstag," in Film-dienst (Köln), September 27, 1994.
Hogan, David J., "Brigitte Bardot. From Playful Sex Kitten to World Weary Wild Child," in Outré (Evanston), I/4, 1995.
* * *
Jeanne Moreau is rare among filmmakers in giving serious attention to the career of Brigitte Bardot. "Brigitte was the real modern revolutionary character for women," she says. "And Vadim, as a man and a lover and a director, felt that. What was true in the New Wave is that suddenly what was important was vitality, emotion, energy, love, and passion. One has to remember it was Vadim who started everything, with Bardot." It was veteran director Marc Allégret who noticed the teenage Brigitte Bardot modeling for the cover of Elle magazine, and later found her some minor film roles. But his friend and assistant Vadim married her, and directed her in Et . . . Dieu créa la femme, the film that cemented her fame and triggered the nascent nouvelle vague. Vadim did not share Moreau's unstinting admiration for Bardot. "She could portray a character in any situation—as long as that character was herself." No more than a competent actress (just as Vadim is at best an average director) Bardot, like all true stars, projected one quality that survived even the most tawdry material. Posing and pouting in suntanned nudity for Et . . . Dieu créa la femme, Bardot epitomized what Simone de Beauvoir was later to isolate as "the Lolita syndrome"—an infantile, almost animal sexuality that freed her from all the inhibitions of adulthood. The innocent daughter or wife, eager for sexual awakening, was a role she had already played half a dozen times in such films as Manina, la fille sans voiles and La Lumière d'en face, but Vadim's Riviera melodrama offered the character Eastman-color and CinemaScope, which made the film more than acceptable to foreign audiences.
Along with the film went Bardot's increasingly sensational reputation. More than any other actress of the 1960s (and certainly more than any French performer thrown up by the youth boom) she fulfilled, on-screen and off, the expectations of her mainly middle-aged audience. Shrewdly, Vadim placed her opposite not only the virile young Trintignant and Marquand, but matched her too with a subsidiary homme de moyen âge in Curt Jurgens. In Une Parisienne, she becomes romantically entangled with visiting prince Charles Boyer (a transparent imitation of the Duke of Edinburgh) to win back her younger husband's interest, and she teased improbably with Jean Gabin in En cas de malheur.
For a decade, newspapers made gleeful capital of Bardot, transparently incognito in dark glasses, sojourning with her latest boyfriend. On film, she appeared in Godard's Le Mépris and Masculin-féminin, and as herself in Cocteau's Le Testament d'Orphée, and the American comedy Dear Brigitte, where she is the love object of a lovable (but pointedly prepubescent) little boy. She even made a much-publicized stab at serious acting in Clouzot's La Vérité, a courtroom drama which presents the conflicting evidence in a murder case and the tangled motives that lead a lazy, sexy Parisienne to steal her sister's lover, then kill him. Once again more sinned against than sinning, Bardot pleads the case of the hedonist too sensitive to live by social rules, but even Clouzot could not induce in audiences the pity needed to hammer this point home.
Louis Malle, who later directed her opposite Moreau in the western romp Viva Maria, exploited these parallels more effectively than anyone in La Vie privée. Bardot the star moons about the Spoleto festival, frustrated in both love and career, and ponders the Kleist play being produced by lover Marcello Mastroianni until despair sends her toppling in slow motion from the heights of the medieval town.
Bardot's last screen appearances came in 1973. One of her final films, Don Juan 1973 ou Si Don Juan était une femme, serves as a pointed demonstration that, even in her forties, she still could play nude scenes and captivate an audience. It appears unlikely that she ever will make any sort of celluloid comeback. She has isolated herself with her causes, focusing on the animals that she was once thought so much to resemble. Nevertheless, Bardot still remains a popular figure in the news for her animal-rights activism. Soon after her exit from movies she founded the Foundation for the Protection of Distressed Animals, and eventually auctioned her jewels to help fund the organization; she has been the subject of almost as many "intimate" and "personal" biographies as her American counterpart, prefeminist sex icon, Marilyn Monroe.
—John Baxter, updated by Rob Edelman