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That same year, at age 18, she married director Roger Vadim, with whom she had been romantically involved for several years.
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.
Although the European film industry was then in the ascendant, her 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 the icons of female sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s and whenever she made public appearances in the United States the media hordes covered her every move.
Her films of the early and mid 1950s were lightweight romantic dramas, some of them historical, in which she was cast as ingйnue or siren, often with an element of undress.
She played bit-parts in three English-language films, the British comedy Doctor at Sea (1955), Warner Brothers' 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) wth Kirk Douglas.
Her French-languge films were dubbed for internationally release. "She is every man's idea of the girl he'd like to meet in Paris" said the film-critic Ivon Addams in 1955.
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 amoral teenager in a respectable small-town setting, was a big international success, riding on the back of Bardot's high profile as a magazine celebrity and pin-up.
She may have had an affair with her co-star Trintignant, but this this was more likely a pre-release publicity gimmick.
The film is often wrongly described as her first film (it was her seventeenth) and to have launched her overnight, but it did help move her towards the cinematic mainstream.
It also ruled out a transition to Hollywood, where she was thought too risquй to handle.
The Doris Day era was in 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.
Fluffy erotica like Bardot's Cette sacrйe gamine (That Crazy Kid, 1955) was considered fine at the box-office as long as it was clearly labelled "European".
Also Bardot's limited English and strong accent (while beguiling to the ears of men) did not suit rapid-fire Hollywood scripts.
In the 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 to the decade.
Divorced from Vadim in 1957, she married actor Jacques Charrier (1959-62), by whom in 1960 she had her only child, Nicolas-Jacques Charrier.
The marriage was preyed on by the paparazzi and there were clashes over Bardot's career-direction.
Her films did become more substantial, but this brought a heavy pressure of dual celebrity as she sought critical acclaim while remaining to most of the world a glamour model.
Vie privйe (1960), directed by Louis Malle has more than an element of autobiography in it.
The scene in which, returning to her flat, Bardot's character is harangued in the lift by a middle-aged cleaning-lady calling her a tramp and a tart was based on an actual incident, and is a resonant image of celebrity in the mid-20th century.
Soon after, Bardot withdrew to the seclusion of the South of France and is now known to have attempted suicide, but as the sexual revolution of the early 1960s gathered momentum her lifetyle began to seem more like the norm and the pressure lifted.
She was happy through the sixties to appear in glossy star-vehicles like Viva Maria (1969), to dabble in pop-music and to perceive her main role as glamour model and icon. In 1965 she appeared as herself in the Hollywood production Dear Brigitte starring Jimmy Stewart.
Her other husbands were German millionaire playboy Gunther Sachs (1966-69), and French right-wing politician Bernard d'Ormale (1992-present).
She has also had reputed relationships with many men including Serge Gainsbourg and Sacha Distel (singers), and apparently with Jimi Hendrix after a chance meeting at the airport in Paris.
She is recognized for popularizing bikini swimwear in early films such as Manina (Woman without a Veil, 1952) and in her appearances at Cannes and in many photo-shoots.
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.
The kooky fashions of the 1960s looked effortlessly right and spontaneous on her and she joined Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy in becoming a subject for Andy Warhol paintings.
In 1970, the sculptor Alain Gourdon used Bardot as the model for a bust of Marianne, the French national emblem.
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 1986, she established the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals.
She raised 3 million French francs to fund the foundation by auctioning off her jewelry and many personal belongings.
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'Amitiй entre les Peuples" — Movement against racism and for the friendship of peoples) announced that it would sue 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 5,000 Ђ (US$6,000) 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, naпve sexuality that brought a whole new audience to French films." Time Magazine
"Well, my telephone rang it would not stop, / It's President Kennedy callin' me up. / He said, "My friend, Bob, what do we need to make the country grow?" / I said, "My friend, John, Brigitte Bardot, / Anita Ekberg, / Sophia Loren." / Country'll grow." -- Bob Dylan, I Shall Be Free, The Freewheelin Bob Dylan, 1963
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