French film star, known as the ‘Sex Kitten’ of the 1950s.
Bardot was born into an industrialist family in Paris. Before entering films she was a model, appearing on the cover of Elle magazine. She was introduced to films by Marc Allégret, whose assistant director at the time, Roger Vadim, later became her husband (1952–57) and was influential in her career. (Bardot's second and third husbands were the actor Jacques Charrier and the industrialist Gunther Sachs; she is now married to Bernard d'Ormale, an extreme right-wing politician.) She made her debut in Jean Boyer's Le Trou normand (1952; Crazy for Love) but stardom and international fame came with Vadim's first film as director, Et Dieu créa la femme (1956; And God Created Woman), the film that launched Bardot as a sex symbol. Subsequent films included En cas de malheur (1959; Love is My Profession), La Vérité (1960; The Truth), Vie privée (1962; A Very Private Affair), Le Repos du guerrier (1962; Love on a Pillow), Le Mépris (1964; Contempt), Viva Maria (1965), Shalako (1968), and The Novices (1970).
Bardot's personal life, which was the subject of much publicity in the 1960s and 1970s, has often been far from happy. She was the subject of Simone de Beauvoir's Brigitte Bardot and the Lolita Syndrome (1959), Jacques Rozier's film I paparazzi (1963), and Dear Brigitte (1965), which was made in the USA and in which she played herself. Since her retirement as an actress in 1973 Bardot has devoted herself to the cause of animal welfare and lives in seclusion in the south of France. In the 1990s she has provoked renewed controversy in France with her anti-immigrant views and a volume of highly acrimonious Memoirs (1996).
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).