Celebrity Then And Now
Brigitte Bardot
Name: Brigitte Bardot
Birthdate: January 1, 1970
Famous Years: 1952-1973
Currently Known For: Animal Activism
Networth: $65 MillionFamous For: Le Mepris, Maria!, Modeling Career
Brigitte Bardot
Name Brigitte Bardot
Birthdate January 1, 1970
Famous Years 1952-1973
Currently Known For Animal Activism
Networth $65 Million
Famous For Le Mepris, Maria!, Modeling Career

Americans might have a hard time naming famous French actors and actresses off the top of our heads, but one that’s very familiar with the older crowd is Brigitte Bardot. Though Bardot hasn’t been an actress for more than 40 years, she’s still among the most popular French celebrities on a global scale.

Born on September 28, 1934, Bardot grew up in a fairly normal household where she wanted to be a ballerina as a girl. When she became a teenager, though, a friend of her mother’s suggested that Bardot try her hand at modeling. Appearing on magazine covers got her noticed by French filmmakers, and she was just 18 when she appeared in her first film, “Le Trou Normand” in 1952.

The film was a huge hit in France and allowed Bardot to become a leading lady, starring in three films over the next year that included “His Father’s Portrait”. Bardot would have many roles through the 1950s, though it was in the second half of the decade where she became an international superstar, even if her films were all shot in France.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that Bardot appeared in a Hollywood film, starring alongside Jimmy Stewart in the film “Dear Brigitte”. Unfortunately, the next few films for Bardot wouldn’t be as successful, and she went into the 1970s on a cold streak. Before turning 40 years old, Bardot announced that she was going to be retiring from acting, with “The Edifying and Joyous Story of Colinot” as her final film.

20 years after leaving the business, Bardot would say that “My career as an actress is part of a whole other world by now.” While many saw her as one of the most beautiful women in the world during her career, Bardot said “To tell you the truth, I don’t feel all that exceptional. That’s how it always has been, and that hasn’t changed.” She doesn’t regret leaving the big screen, either, saying that she lost her passion for the business and never looked back.

Bardot would focus much of her time on activism, while also releasing music and writing a book. Regarding her retirement, Bardot said “It was a realization that this life wasn’t satisfying me and that my love for animals should express itself officially. I never look back.” Even though she wasn’t on the big screen anymore, the public remained very interested in Bardot and her life in general.

Bardot has been married four times thus far, with her first marriage coming with French screenwriter Roger Vadim in 1952 when she was just 18 years old. The marriage lasted for five years, and she then moved on to Jacques Charrier, becoming pregnant in the process. Bardot had her only child in 1960, a son named Nicolas-Jacques Charrier, and they were married six months prior.

In 1966, Bardot had her third marriage, this time with German millionaire Gunter Sachs. It would be another short lived marriage as the couple split in 1969. Bardot would have many different relationships over the next 25 years, but finally found something long lasting when she married political adviser Bernard d’Ormale. The couple has been married since 1992.

For more than 40 years, though, the primary focus for Bardot has been advocating for animal rights. She would establish the Brigitte Bardot Foundation that has many different projects. “There are lots of them,” she said. “Anti-fur campaigns, the horsemeat industry, breeding conditions, the transport and slaughter of animals for their meat...The task is long, exhausting and often discouraging.” She credits her film career as a way of getting more people interested in animals rights, as well, saying that “it gave me the profile that today allows me to fight against the suffering of animals.”

That doesn’t mean that Bardot has gone without controversy in her post-acting career, as her political beliefs have gotten her into trouble. Her current husband, d’Ormale, has worked with the far-right Front National Party. Bardot has been very vocal in support of some of the party’s ideals, though the French government has said that she’s taken it too far sometimes.

Bardot said in an open letter that “my country, France, my homeland, my land is again invaded by an overpopulation of foreigners, especially Muslims.” Comments like these caused her to be fined twice in the late 1990s, and would be fined multiple times in the 2000s for openly criticizing Muslims and homosexuals. She’s had to pay thousands of dollars as a result of her comments over the past 20 years, being fined for inciting racial hatred.

Once among the biggest stars in France and around the world, Bardot has become more of a polarizing and controversial figure now in her 80s. For those that are hoping that she’s able to make one final film appearance, you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. “I think that I arrived and left (acting) at the right time...The page has turned. Cinema is finished for me.”