Brigitte Bardot, French Film Icon

For this week’s Femme Fatale Friday, I have chosen to write about the great French film star and sex symbol Brigitte Bardot!    Bardot’s career in film began in the 1950s when she was still a teenager, and it would continue into the 1970s.   She retired from film at age 39, as she believed that she could not convincingly be a sex symbol in her 40s.   

Since then, she has dedicated her life to animals, as she had been an animal rights activist and vegetarian for many years!    It is known that she had disagreements with Sophia Loren, due to Loren’s penchant for wearing fur.   Bardot famously said “I gave my beauty and youth to men.   I am going to give my wisdom and experience to animals.” 

I have always adored Brigitte’s films, and I especially love watching them in their original French.   Many can be found dubbed, but I personally dislike dubbing (and as I have studied French since 8th grade, I understand the beautiful language well enough)!   Brigitte often played a young woman who was either a siren drawing men in or a young woman in love.   Many joked that her initials B.B. meant bare bottom, as she was known for her nude scenes.   In fact, those nude scenes are part of what made her an icon in America, as she was making provocative French films at a time when the Hays Code was in full effect here in the US!

Brigitte was a complicated woman in her own life.   She married for the first time when she was only eighteen.   This marriage was to the burgeoning French film director Roger Vadim, who had discovered her.   In his film Et Dieu Crea La Femme, Bardot had her big break!   This marriage would end in divorce, and her next marriage was to Jacques Charrier with whom she had a son.   She sadly became estranged from her son upon her second divorce but was very honest in stating that she was never cut out to be a mother.   Her third marriage was to Gunter Sachs, who was a wealthy playboy, and that one was the last she had during her acting career.   She has been married to her fourth husband, Bernard d’Ormale, since 1992!    That makes him her longest relationship, and they still are together and working with her beloved animals.   After her acting career ended she founded the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, which is a premier animal rights organization.

I would like to note two final things about her acting career.   Firstly, she auditioned to play Gigi for the great Colette herself before Colette’s death!   This is a favorite anecdote of mine that she shared in her memoir.   Secondly, she worked with the iconic French new-wave director Jean-Luc Godard in his film Le Mepris.   Godard did something revolutionary in this film by putting Bardot in a black wig, thus messing with her famed beachy blonde looks!

Along with her film career, she also recorded music in the 1960s!   The music is of the French Ye-Ye style that was so popular at the time, and I highly recommend it for those that enjoy fun and playful tunes.   She famously had an affair with Serge Gainsbourg, with whom she recorded her Bonnie and Clyde compilation album!   The title track of that album is Bonnie Parker’s actual poem “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde” translated into French by Serge Gainsbourg.   It is one of my favorite songs by Bardot, and certainly the best version of any Bonnie and Clyde song!

Her feisty film characters, as well as her sexually free persona, have always been inspirational to me.    I hope that you have enjoyed learning a bit about this fascinating film icon.    Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is one of my favorite photos of Bardot.   I found the image on

Further Reading/Watching/Listening

  • Initiales B.B. by Brigitte Bardot   (As a side note: I believe that this was never translated, but if you read French this is a beautiful memoir by the woman herself!)
  • Et Dieu Crea La Femme (1956)
  • Le Mepris (1963)
  • Voulez Vous Danser Avec Moi (1959)
  • Bonnie & Clyde album (1968)