Brigitte Bardot (born September 28, 1934 in Paris) is a French actress and model, daughter of an industrialist. Also known simply as BB ("Bri-Bri" in childhood) she is considered the embodiment of the 1950s "sex kitten."
In the 1970s Bardot established herself as an animal rights activist. During the 1990s her controversial and outspoken political views on such issues as immigration, Islam, and homosexuality greatly affected her reputation.
Bardot's beauty and natural sensuality began to show as a teenager and in 1952, she appeared on screen for the first time in Le Trou Normand. That same year, at age 18, she married director Roger Vadim, with whom she had been romantically involved for several years. Divorced from Vadim in 1957, she married actor Jacques Charrier (1959-62), German millionaire playboy Gunther Sachs (1966-69), and French right-wing politician Bernard d'Ormale (1992-present).
Bardot also had notorious relationships with Serge Gainsbourg (singer), Sacha Distel, and Jean-Louis Trintignant (actor).
She has one child, Nicolas-Jacques Charrier (born 1960).
Bardot starred with Trintignant in Vadim's film And God Created Woman, which pushed the boundaries of sex in film at the time, making her an overnight sensation. To this day, the scene of Bardot dancing barefoot on a table remains one of the most erotic scenes in the history of the cinema.
She is one of the few European actresses to receive mass media attention in the United States, still a "sex kitten" to this day. She and Marilyn Monroe were the icons of female sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s. Whenever she made public appearances in the United States, her every move was covered by a horde of media. Her first American made film was 1954's Un acte d'amour co-starring Kirk Douglas. In 1965 she appeared as herself in the Hollywood production Dear Brigitte starring Jimmy Stewart. Because her English was limited, many of her films were released in the U.S. with her voice dubbed over.
She is recognized for popularizing bikini swimwear, appearing in it for photographers numerous times. She even sported an early version of the monokini (topless bikini) from time to time (though this was not considered extraordinary in France, where nudity on beaches is common, it was considered nearly scandalous in the US).
In 1974, just before her fortieth birthday, Bardot announced her retirement. After appearing in more than fifty motion pictures, and recording several music albums, most notably with France's "bad boy" of music, Serge Gainsbourg, she chose to use her fame to promote animal rights. She is accused of being a misanthrope and preferring the company of animals to that of men. In 1976 she established the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Protection of Distressed Animals. Today, she is one of the world's most influential animal rights activists and a major opponent of the consumption of horse meat.
She is also one of the most celebrated supporters of Jean-Marie Le Pen of the right-wing Front National political party, with which her husband is associated. With the publication of her 2003 book, A Scream in the Silence, the reclusive Bardot has come under considerable fire for racist, anti-Muslim, and anti-gay comments. In May 2003, The MRAP ("Mouvement contre le Racisme et pour l'Amitié entre les Peuples" - Movement against racism and for the friendship of peoples) announced that it would be suing Bardot for her published views. Another organization, The "Ligue des Droits de l'Homme" (League of Human Rights), announced that it was considering similar legal proceedings.
Bardot, in a letter to a French gay magazine, 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."
On June 10, 2004 Bardot was convicted by a French court of "inciting racial hatred." She was fined US$6,000 ($5,000 Euro) and it is the fourth such conviction/fine she has faced from French courts. These recent fines pertain to her aforementioned book. In particular the courts cited passages where Bardot referred to the "Islamization of France" and the "underground and dangerous infiltration of Islam." (France's 5-million member Muslim community is the largest in Europe.) In the book she also referred to homosexuals as "fairground freaks," and she condemns the presence of women in government. Bardot's previous comments that led to convictions included ones encouraging civilian massacres in Algeria.
"She is the princess of pout, the countess of come hither. Brigitte Bardot exuded a carefree, naive sexuality that brought a whole new audience to French films." Time Magazine