The Remarkable Life Of Brigitte Bardot In Pictures

Those who lived through the 1950s and 1960s will most likely remember the iconic French celebrity Brigitte Bardot. Also known as “B.B.”, she became famous for her work in acting, modeling, and singing. Later in life, she decided to leave the entertainment industry behind to become an activist. Here are some retro photos of Bardot during her rise to stardom.

Introducing Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot was born on September 28, 1934 in Paris, France. She grew up in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, which is one of the most famous buildings in the city.

Brigitte Bardot with a blue background
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images
Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images

Her father was an engineer and owner of several factories and her mother was the daughter of an insurance company director.

She Studied Ballet

Growing up during World War II would be tough on anyone, so Bardot found a way to escape her negative thoughts. She took up ballet at age 13 and was admitted to the Conservatoire de Paris.

French actress, Brigitte Bardot, with a bouffant hairstyle and a blue boa, 1960
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

There, she trained with the legendary Russian choreographer, Boris Knyazev. While Bardot had a charmed childhood, she was looking for ways to rebel.

The Start Of Her Modeling Career

After studying ballet, Bardot wanted to try her hand at modeling. By the time she was 15, she became a junior fashion model and worked for Hélène Gordon-Lazareff at Le Jardin des Modes and Elle magazines.

Portrait of French actress Brigitte Bardot in Spanish dress holding a jug, circa 1960s
Archive Photos/Getty Images
Archive Photos/Getty Images

She got her first magazine cover that same year, which helped her get some of her first acting roles.

Her First Movie

After appearing on the cover of Elle magazine in 1952, Bardot got her first movie offer. She landed a role in the comedy Crazy for Love.

Brigitte Bardot, French actress, model and singer, wearing a blue gingham dress with her hair in plaits, tied with blue bows, sitting in a series of stone steps, 1960
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

This was only a small role for which she was paid just a little over five thousand dollars, but it would soon lead to many more acting offers.

Meeting Roger Vadim

When Bardot was 18-years-old, she met French director, screenwriter, and producer Roger Vadim. The two fell in love, but her parents were very opposed to their relationship.

Brigitte Bardot with Roger Vadim in the Filming Of
Reporters Associes/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images
Reporters Associes/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Her father bought her a train ticket to leave the country, but Bardot refused. She and Vadim were married soon after.

A Short, But Passionate Marriage

Bardot and Vadim were married on December 20, 1952 at a Paris church. She was 18 and he was 24.

French actress Brigitte Bardot, sitting at a folding table, wearing a man's shirt, circa 1965
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

While their marriage was extremely passionate, it didn’t last long. The pair divorced in 1957 and didn’t have children together. However, the two remained in touch and would work together later in life.

Expanding Her Résumé

From about 1952 to 1955, Bardot was breaking into the acting world with small roles in romantic comedies. Then, the late 50s and early 60s brought her some breakout roles.

French actress Brigitte Bardot wearing a white floral dress in 1955
Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Baron/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Fans remember her for leading roles in Naughty Girl, Plucking the Daisy, The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful, and And God Created Woman.

Bardot Created A New Film Archetype

Not only was Bardot becoming one of the most famous actresses in the entertainment industry, but there was something else getting people’s attention.

French actress Brigitte Bardot in Rome, Italy, circa 1962
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Critics claim that Bardot created the “enchantress” archetype in movies during this time period after being known for her sultry demeanor. While this made her popular, Bardot would later regret it.

Going To The Oscars

After starring in several romantic comedies, Bardot wanted to break out of conventional roles. One of her most iconic movies was the courtroom drama The Truth.

French actress Brigitte Bardot stands with her hands on her hips
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It became a massive success worldwide and even earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Film. Bardot received a David di Donatello Award for Best Foreign Actress.

A Second Husband Enters The Picture

While Bardot dated many men after her divorce with Vadim, her next marriage would be with French actor Jacques Charrier.

jacques charrier and brigitte bardot in 1959
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

She became pregnant with their son, Nicolas-Jacques, before they were married. This would be her only child. The couple’s union lasted for about three years until Bardot fell for another man in 1962.

The Paparazzi Hounded Her

It didn’t take long for Bardot to start receiving massive media attention for her modeling and film work. She was constantly surrounded by paparazzi anywhere she went.

French film star Brigitte Bardot raises her glass at a press conference
Keystone/Getty Images
Keystone/Getty Images

While some celebrities can’t stand cameras in their face, Bardot simply blocked them out of her mind. There were other things that were much more important.

Coming To America

All of Bardot’s success in foreign films led to her accepting some roles in Hollywood. Her first American role was a small part in 1965’s Dear Brigitte.

Brigitte Bardot with Jean Rochefort on the set of 'A Coeur Joie'
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

While her name was in the title and the plot was about a boy who had a crush on her, she only made a brief cameo.

She Was A Singer Too

Not only did Bardot become one of the most iconic actresses of the early 20th century, but she became a singer as well.

French film star Brigitte Bardot poses for photographers
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

She performed in several musical shows and also released music. Some of her biggest hits included “Harley Davidson,” “Bubble Gum,” and several other songs in French.

Another Husband Comes Her Way

Bardot was smitten with German millionaire Gunter Sachs and the two were married on July 14, 1966. One of the most romantic things Sachs did for her was having a helicopter spread thousands of rose petals around her St. Tropez home.

gunter sachs and bardot at lax
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

However, the two separated a couple years after their marriage and were officially divorced in 1969.

Bardot Isn’t A True Blonde

When fans think of Bardot in her prime, they often picture a blonde bombshell. Most probably didn’t realize that she is actually a natural brunette.

French actress Brigitte Bardot wearing a low-necked red dress, circa 1955
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

This photo shows her in 1955 with her natural hair just a year prior before she officially went blonde. She decided to ditch her brunette locks for her role in Mio Figlio Nerone.

A Model Pose Was Named After Her

Not only did Bardot make a huge impact on acting and music, but she was an internationally known supermodel.

bardot wearing a hat
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images
Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

She even created her own pose. The “Bardot pose” involves sitting with your arms and legs crossed while facing the camera. This was first seen in a 1960 photoshoot and has been copied by many models since.

She Popularized The Beehive Hairstyle

Celebrities tend to be natural trendsetters and Bardot was able to make many fashion firsts throughout her career.

Roger Vadim directs his ex-wife Brigitte Bardot in the 1961 film La Bride Sur le Cou
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

She popularized a hairstyle called the Choucroute, which is more commonly known as a beehive. “Choucroute” actually translates to sauerkraut in French. Bardot would wear her beehive hair in photoshoots, movies, and public appearances.

She Loved These Kind Of Tops

Bardot always made sure to wear the most stylish clothes available, but there was one clothing item she particularly loved.

Studio portrait of actor and model Brigitte Bardot wearing a light blue off-the-shoulder dress
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

She could often be seen wearing open-necked tops that ranged from blouses, dresses, sweaters, or T-shirts. Almost no one was doing this during the 50s and 60s because it was considered a bit too risqué.

Living In St. Tropez

Being a star would take a toll on anyone, so Bardot found a place to escape. In 1968, she purchased a property called The Madrague in the French beach town of St. Tropez.

bardot wearing a red sweater
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

She spent a lot of time there with her third husband Gunter Sachs. St. Tropez became Bardot’s safe place and she would often be there when she wasn’t working.

The Beatles Loved Her

Bardot was a fan-favorite even among other celebrities. The Beatles simply adored Bardot and were set on having her star in their musical film A Hard Day’s Night.

Headshot of French actor Brigitte Bardot closing her eyes and holding the rim of her straw hat while basking in the sun outdoors
Express/Getty Images
Express/Getty Images

While she was not able to do so, the Beatles remained loyal fans. George Harrison even compared her to his wife, Pattie Boyd.

Why A Ship Was Named After Her

Bardot made a huge impact throughout her career and she earned many important and honorable accolades. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society decided to name a Canadian interceptor vessel after her.

bardot sitting in a chair wearing black
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

The MV Brigitte Bardot was named not only to honor Bardot herself but to condemn the practice of seal hunting.

She Rarely Saw Her Son

After having a son with her second husband in early 1960, she never really felt a connection to motherhood. She divorced her son’s father when he was only two. Her son was then raised by his father’s side of the family.

bardot posing for a photo in 1966
Len Trievnor/Express/Getty Images
Len Trievnor/Express/Getty Images

Bardot and her son did not really see each other during his childhood and only reconnected when he was an adult.

Going Into Retirement

Some celebrities will have a career well into their golden years, but Bardot had finally had enough. In 1973, a year shy of her 40th birthday, Bardot decided to retire from acting.

bardot with a blue background
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

She spent much of her downtime in St. Tropez and refused to just sit at home. She had a new calling.

Bardot The Activist

After appearing in over 40 movies and recording many albums, Bardot decided to switch gears to become an animal rights activist.

bardot fixing her hair
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

She started her own animal welfare charity, became a vegetarian, and raised millions of dollars in donations. Also, she married her fourth and current husband in 1992 named Bernard d’Ormale.

She Overcame Adversity At A Young Age

While Bardot may have seemed practically perfect by how she appeared on screen, many fans probably don’t know much about her past.

Full-length image of French actor Brigitte Bardot wearing a red suede coat, beige cords, and a silk scarf over her head
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

During her youth, she was afflicted with an ailment called amblyopia. Amblyopia is most commonly referred to as a “lazy eye.” This effected her eyesight, especially in her left eye.