Brigitte Bardot turns 81 today, as beautiful now as she was when she first gained worldwide fame in 1956. She’s now a cultural icon, a piece of film and cultural history almost as influential as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn are in modern American culture. Her signature style and sensuality span the decades, reminding us how relevant she still is. Did you know these things about the gorgeous and talented Brigitte Bardot?
She was known as “BB”
Brigitte Bardot was commonly known by her initials alone.
She initially trained to be a ballet dancer in France.
Brigitte only went to school three days a week growing up, which allowed for three days of formal ballet training. She was accepted to the Conservatoire de Paris in 1947, which she attended for a short three years before becoming an actress.
Her mother prompted the 15-year-old Brigitte to start modeling. Brigitte first appeared, age 15, on a March 1950 cover of Elle magazine. Her modeling led to Bardot being “discovered” by a talent agency who got her cast in her first movie, Les lauriers sont coupés, which was never actually made.
And God Created Woman catapulted her into international fame
Brigitte’s big Hollywood break came after the 1956 release of And God Created Woman, which turned her into a sex symbol and cultural icon. In it, Bardot played a sexually unrestrained 18-year-old orphan whose frequent spells of nudity cause stirrings among the men in her life. It was said of her character in that movie, “That girl was made to destroy men.”
She sang and recorded 60 songs
Did you know Brigitte Bardot was a singer, too? In the 60s and 70s she sang and recorded dozens of famous songs, and even performed in several musical shows. Her most famous song is the scandalous “Je t’aime… moi non-plus,” which was banned in several countries because of its heavy sexual content. Bardot’s version was not even released until 1986, and now it’s a favorite all over the world.
She was fined five times for “inciting racial hatred” for her comments about Muslims and homosexual men
Never one to shy away from expressing an opinion, Brigitte Bardot’s sharp tongue got her in trouble with the French government many, many times.
Her comments included expressing outrage over the Muslim community in France, and their practice of ritually slaughtering sheep during their holiday Eid al-Adha. But she also said:
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.
That’ll be 30,000 francs, Brigitte.
About homosexual men she said:
[They] 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 wrote in her defense:
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.
Interesting opinions, no? Perhaps not.
She survived breast cancer
Bardot was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1983, about a decade after she retired from the limelight. She initially didn’t want to undergo any treatment, because she believed that death from the disease was simply her fate. Bardot’s friend Mariana Vlady convinced her otherwise, and Brigitte survived the illness.
She’s now an animal rights activist
After retiring from Hollywood in 1973, Bardot retreated to her lush home in Saint-Tropez, and began to devote her life to animal rights activism. She became a vegetarian, and founded the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals. She auctioned off jewelry and her personal effects to raise three million francs for the society.
Her activism included condemning the consumption of horse meat in Europe and seal hunting in Canada, as well as advocating for the mass sterilization and adoption of Bucharest’s stray dogs. But she also made headlines when she was brought to court in 1989, sued for castrating a neighbor’s donkey, allegedly for “sexual harassment” against her own donkey and horse.
Yours sure is an interesting resume, Brigitte. Happy birthday to the stunning, iconic 81-year-old!