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Brigitte Bardot Early life
Brigitte Bardot (full name is Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot) was born in Paris to Anne-Marie 'Toty' Mucel (1912-1978) and Louis 'Pilou' Bardot (1896-1975) in 1934. Her father had an engineering degree and worked with her grandfather in the family business. Toty was 14 years younger than him; they married in 1933.
Encouraged by mother, Brigitte and her younger sister Marie-Jeanne ('Mijanou', born May 5, 1938) were going in for dances since their childhood. Mijanou displayed more interest in exact sciences and eventually gave up on dancing lessons to complete her education, whereas Brigitte, who had natural plasticity and grace, decided to concentrate on a ballet career. In 1947, having passed entrance examinations, Bardot was accepted as a student of The National Superior Conservatory of Paris for Music and Dance and attended ballet classes of Russian choreographer Boris Knyazev for three years (One of her classmates was Leslie Caron). In 1949 she participated in a fashion show as a model by invitation of her mother's acquaintance; in the same year she modelled for a fashion magazine "Jardin des Modes" managed by another friend of her mother, journalist Hélène Lazareff. She appeared on a cover of ELLE issued on March 8, 1950 and was noticed by a young film director Roger Vadim. He showed an issue of the magazine to director and screenwriter Marc Allégret who offered Bardot to take part in an audition for his film "Les lauriers sont coupés" thereafter. Although Bardot got the role, the shooting of the film was canceled, but it made her consider becoming an actress. Moreover, her acquaintance with Vadim, who attended the audition, influenced her further life and career.
Brigitte Bardot Career
Although the European film industry was then in its ascendancy, Bardot's personal rise was remarkable; she has been one of the few European actresses to receive mass media attention in the United States. She and Marilyn Monroe were perhaps the foremost examples of female sexuality in films of the 1950s and 1960s, and whenever she made public appearances in the United States the media hordes covered her every move.
Brigitte Bardot debuted in a 1952 comedy film Le Trou Normand (English title: Crazy for Love). In the same year she married Roger Vadim. From 1952 to 1956 she appeared in seventeen films; in 1953 played a part in Jean Anouilh's stageplay "L'Invitation au château" ("The Invitation to a Castle"). In April 1953 she attended Cannes Film Festival where received media attention. "She is every man's idea of the girl he'd like to meet in Paris," wrote the film-critic Ivon Addams in 1955.
Her films of the early and mid 1950s were generally lightweight romantic dramas, some of them historical, in which she was cast as ingénue or siren, often with an element of undress. She played bit parts in three English-language films, the British comedy Doctor at Sea (1955), Helen of Troy (1954), in which she was understudy for the title role but only appears as Helen's handmaid, and Act of Love (1954) with Kirk Douglas. Her French-language films were dubbed for international release.
Roger Vadim was not content with this light fare. The New Wave of French and Italian art directors and their stars were riding high internationally, and he felt Bardot was being undersold. Looking for something more like an art film to push her as a serious actress, he showcased her in And God Created Woman (1956) with Jean-Louis Trintignant. The film, about an immoral teenager in a respectable small-town setting, was a big international success. It is often (wrongly) described as her first film (it was her eighteenth) and that it launched her to overnight stardom, but it did help move her towards the cinematic mainstream.
In Hollywood, Bardot would be considered too risqué to handle - erotica like Bardot's Cette sacrée gamine (That Crazy Kid, 1955) was not typical of the American cinema of this period, and it was considered acceptable at the box office so long as it was clearly labeled "European." The Doris Day era was still in full swing, and even Jane Russell in The French Line (1953) had been thought to be going too far by showing her midriff. Furthermore, Bardot's limited English and strong accent, while beguiling to the ears of men, did not suit rapid-fire Hollywood scripts. In any event, staying in Europe benefited her image when the 1960s began to swing and Hollywood slipped into the background for a while, and Bardot was voted honorary sex-goddess of the decade. True or false, but there was a widely popular claim that Brigitte Bardot, as an actress, did more for the French international trade balance than the entire French car industry.
She divorced Vadim in 1957 and in 1959 married actor Jacques Charrier, with whom she starred in Babette Goes to War (1959). Her marriage was preyed on by the paparazzi, and there were clashes over the direction of her career. Her films became more substantial, but this brought a heavy pressure of dual celebrity as she sought critical acclaim while remaining a glamour model for most of the world.
Vie privée (1960), directed by Louis Malle has more than an element of autobiography in it. The scene in which, returning to her apartment, Bardot's character is harangued in the elevator by a middle aged cleaning lady calling her offensive names, was based on an actual incident, and is a resonant image of celebrity in the mid 20th century.
Soon afterwards Bardot withdrew to the seclusion of Southern France.
In 1963, she starred in Jean-Luc Godard's critically acclaimed film Contempt.
Brigitte Bardot was featured in many other films along with notable actors such as Alain Delon (Famous Love Affairs, Spirits of the Dead), Jean Gabin (In Case of Adversity), Sean Connery (Shalako), Jean Marais (Royal Affairs in Versailles, School for Love), Lino Ventura (Rum Runners), Annie Girardot (The Novices), Claudia Cardinale (The Legend of Frenchie King), Jeanne Moreau (Viva Maria!), Jane Birkin (Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman).
She participated in various musical shows and recorded many popular songs in the 1960s and 1970s, mostly in collaboration with Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Zagury and Sacha Distel, including "Harley Davidson", "Je Me Donne A Qui Me Plait", "Bubble gum", "Contact", "Je Reviendrais Toujours Vers Toi", "L'Appareil A Sous", "La Madrague", "On Demenage", "Sidonie", "Tu Veux, Ou Tu Veux Pas?", "Le Soleil De Ma Vie" (the cover of Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine of My Life") and notorious "Je t'aime... moi non plus".
Brigitte Bardot on the Web
Brigitte Bardot Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - Biography.com Find out more about the career of legendary screen siren Brigitte Bardot, star of films like And God Created Women and Contempt, on Biography.com.
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