Brigitte Bardot has gone down in the history books as one of the most iconic actresses of all time. She was the golden child who was always destined for a life of fame and fortune, having had an early exposure to the fashion and entertainment industry. But there was more to her life than just her famous looks; she experienced an extremely eventful and extraordinary life.
At Popular Everything, we’re bringing you the little-known life story behind one of the most iconic women of the 20th century. As the ultimate symbol of glamor and allure during the 50s and 60s, we’ve taken a deep dive into the mysterious side of Brigitte that everyone’s less familiar with.
The Camera Always Loved Her
Born in 1934, Brigitte was the firstborn child to her parents, Louis and Anne-Marie. She was raised as a Conservative Catholic in the well-heeled 16th arrondissement neighborhood of Paris, France. In fact, the Bardot’s were in an especially fortunate position. Louis was an engineer and owner of industrial factories across the city, while Anne-Marie was the privileged daughter of an insurance company director.
Her bourgeois family life even allowed her to live close by to the Eiffel Tower. Along with seeing these adorable pictures of Brigitte as a small child, it makes sense that she was destined for fame and fortune. She was born into a good position to succeed in life but, as we’ll come to find out, her family’s conservatism was threatening to hold her back.
When Brigitte was four years old, her mother gave birth to a second child, Mijanou Bardot aka Mary Jane. Born in 1938, she was naturally very influenced by her big sister and even tried to pursue acting too as she grew up. She would go on to star in the 1960 film Sex Kittens Go to College, but her career never took off quite the same.
Unfortunately, the arrival of her younger sister into the family was bittersweet, as the parents had really been hoping for a boy. They had initially hoped that Brigitte would be a boy, and now that they had Mijanou they had more or less reached their societal limit for children in a French bourgeois family.
Destined for the Silver Screen
Bardot’s mother Anne-Marie was a pushy and opinionated figure, who made Brigitte take up dance classes from a very young age. Here she is in 1946, already practicing the difficult techniques of pointe work. A year after this photo was taken, Brigitte was admitted into the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris.
Attending the specialized college meant that she would be trained under the watchful eye of the Russian choreographer, Boris Knyazev. He had developed a way to build dancers’ legs while keeping them slim, which came in handy for Brigitte when she matured.
From Ballet to Fashion
Brigitte is said to have had a very easy-going nature, especially at a young age. It is possibly one of the reasons she gave up pursuing ballet as a full-time occupation. She had initially intended on becoming a professional ballerina but dropped those dreams as a young teenager.
Another reason why ballet was put aside was that she was becoming more and more in demand for fashion modelling. It was an equally glamorous occupation, one that her mother also had an interest in, and didn’t require any of the demanding physical training. She was 15 years old when she started to pursue modelling.
Ballet Training Was an Advantage
She had a big appeal in the modeling world. She was a beautiful young girl with big eyes and an even bigger smile and was growing to be a fair amount taller than a lot of other girls. She also didn’t experience weight fluctuations unlike many other big stars such as Marilyn Monroe or Elisabeth Taylor.
One particular advantage she had was her fantastic posture. Ballet training had given her a graceful demeanor and elegant walk, with a poker straight back to boot. She had all the quintessential “jeune fille” features that were desired back in the day, and a pushy mother to help her land modeling gigs.
She Had Eye Problems
Despite being born with an awful lot of advantages, one area of her life was not particularly ideal. She suffered with amblyopia, also known as a “lazy eye,” in which the brain favors one eye over the other and fails to process any input from the other. In Brigitte’s case, her left eye was the problematic one.
As a result of her condition, she had reduced vision in her left eye ever since she was a child. The nature of the disorder means that to people on the outside, nothing appears different about her impaired eye. Which is why not many people were aware of her secret condition.
An Ugly Duckling?
Despite what many might have assumed about a young Brigitte Bardot, she was not that outgoing in reality. People who knew her claimed to find her shy and unconfident – a surprising combination considering her pursuit to perform. In later life, she had spoken about how her difficult childhood had affected her character.
“I felt like a stranger in my parents’ house,” she admitted, and recalls being “shy” and having “dreadful complexes as a child. I always thought I was ugly, and at first, the critics agreed with me. They said I looked like a common maid; they said I was ‘ordinary,’ which is much worse than vulgar.” Looks really can be deceiving, as you would have hardly thought she felt so negatively about herself.
Brigitte led quite an isolated childhood. Both her parents were so strict towards her and her sister that they wouldn’t allow them to make friends with just any of the children. They were selective about who the girls would hang around with, which wasn’t very often.
Brigitte also didn’t leave the house much growing up. Her childhood took place among the backdrop of the second world war, and strict civilian surveillance prevailed as the Nazis occupied Paris. Along with the hurt she felt from her parent’s strict standards, Brigitte grew to resent them.
The Pushy “Momager”
Here is Brigitte in 1949 modeling at just 14 years of age. This image was published in Elle Magazine – a publication which she would become even more familiar with. She had cut her hair short and kept in natural and wavy, in keeping with the fashion of the time.
Her mother was instrumental in landing her the modeling gigs. In 1948, Anne-Marie persuaded famous hat-designer friend Jan Barthet to use Brigitte as his model. In the photo shoot, she tried them on while dancing to the music of Swan Lake. It was an important opportunity for Brigitte, which led to many more.
She Got It From Her Mama
Brigitte would find herself drawn to the acting world at the disdain of both her parents. But ironically her mother Anne-Marie, an upper-class socialite, had studied theatre and dance in her younger years and undoubedly influenced young Brigitte’s pursuit to perform.
But her mother’s acting background didn’t allow for understanding on this matter. When she chose to pursue a film career a little later, only her grandfather supported her decision. He is said to have remarked: “If this little girl is to become a w****, cinema will not be the cause.”
A Hostile Childhood
Brigitte doesn’t have such good memories associated with her life in Paris. She remembers cold and unpleasant nights where the whole family would sleep in their clothes. And when German planes came and attacked Paris, the Bardot’s were forced to lock themselves away in their basement under candlelight.
But even something as simple as wearing clothes came with its challenges for Brigitte. Anne-Marie was exceedingly strict about layering her clothes properly. She would hoist Brigitte’s underclothes up as she claimed it was more hygenic in warding off germs. In almost every aspect of her young life, her parents were dominant and authoritarian.
Doors Begin to Open
In 1950, Brigitte landed herself on the front cover of Elle Magazine. She was just a teenager at the time, but she wasn’t dressed like one. She had a mature red lipstick on, cumbersome pearl earrings, and a tailored skirt suit. Basically, she was made up to be an older woman in high society.
This image reached a lot of people and seemed like it had the potential to be Brigitte’s big break. It led to her auditioning for her first movie role after a film director’s assistant by the name of Roger Vadim talent scouted her. As it turned out, love and lust blossomed between Roger and Brigitte, and so began her first major romance. She may not have gotten the part in the movie, but she did get Roger.
Unsurprisingly, Brigitte’s parents were opposed to her dating Roger once they found out what was going on. One evening, her father had even threatened her with a ticket to London where she would continue with her education. He told her that it was already bought and paid for and that it was leaving the next day.
Brigitte reacted by trying to harm herself, with her parents catching her at the last minute and stopping her from doing anything extreme. Their only choice was to accept their union but under one condition; she would have to marry Vadim when she turned 18 years old. In this image, Brigitte is 16 years old and around the time she started seeing Roger.
The 18-Year-Old Bride
In 1952, Brigitte and Roger tied the knot. She was 18 and he was 24, and they opted for a traditional church wedding service in Notre-Dame de Grâce de Passy catholic church, Paris, only a few days before Christmas. Brigitte had her hair neatly pinned up and away from her face, and wore a long, conservative wedding gown with a high neck and long sleeves.
She was definitely infatuated with Roger, going so far as to call him a “wild wolf” in her eyes. She wrote once that when “he looked at me, [he] scared me, attracted me, I didn’t know where I was anymore.” Her Marriage to Roger marked a new beginning for the young Brigitte, as she had finally left the family home and all the discipline that went with it.
The New Life of a Young Wife
Brigitte was now a married teenager who lived with Roger in Paris. She was no longer dependent on her parents, and started to experience her first real taste of freedom. It was her opportunity to leave behind the confines of childhood, as well as pursue her dreams of fame.
But this picture of Brigitte in her new home reminds us that she was only a young woman, still childlike in many ways. She looks down at her collection of stuffed toys that she had strewn all over the floor to show the photographer. At this period in their life, Roger was still in the early stages of his career in screenwriting and directing.
Paying Her Dues
The same year she moved out of her parents’ home, she appeared on the cover of Elle Magazine once more. This time, she did land a role in a movie – Crazy for Love directed by Jean Boyer. It was only a small role acting as the cousin of one of the main characters, but it was enough to get the ball rolling in the right direction.
She went on to appear in four other productions in 1953. One of them was an American film starring Kirk Douglas called Act of Love, but it wasn’t the film that would launch her into international stardom. As we can see in this image from 1952, Brigitte was still sporting her natural mousy brown locks.
A Parisian and American Meet
When she was still just a teenager, Brigitte met American actor Kirk Douglas on the beach in Cannes. He was visiting the Film Festival when the young and budding celebrity spotted him on the beach and rushed over. “I didn’t recognize the nubile young woman – very ooh-la-la in a form-fitting bikini – who ran up to me on the beach shouting ‘Keeerk!'” Kirk explained, adding “She enthusiastically announced, ‘It’s Brigitte!'”
He continues: “Without that, I would never have associated this incredibly sexy creature as the girl who had appeared in ‘Act of Love’ in a drab, ill-fitting winter coat.” The moment turned into a bit of a photo opportunity, with both of them playing up for the camera. It led people to believe there was chemistry floating around between them, but Kirk was falling in love with the festival’s head of protocol, Anne Buydens.
Experimenting With Roles
Picutred in 1952, Brigitte is seen posing in the fields of her grandmother’s home in Louveciennes, 12 miles away from Paris. Brigitte was getting a name for herself in the French romantic comedies circuit. But once she had the opportunity to try something different, she jumped at it.
In 1954 she appeared in an adventure film called Caroline and the Rebels, for which she had a leading role. She also starred in an Italian melodrama picture called Concert of Intrigue the same year, and the French drama film School for Love in 1955 for which she also earned a good role.
On the Rise
But 1954 had something even more valuable in store for Brigitte. She landed the highly coveted role in the upcoming film Helen of Troy, as Andraste the handmaiden. It was a Warner Bros production and her first film shot outside of France, so her international status was growing.
In this photo, Brigitte is pictured in her very own Morgan English sports car, circa 1956. It was a luxurious splurge for the up-and-coming actress, but she would go on to have it for many more years to come. Brigitte makes a good argument for the old adage, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
1956 was a real turning point for Brigitte, as she appeared in four films that specifically led to her stardom. All of them were also written or co-written by her husband Roger. First up was the musical film Naughty Girl in which she played a difficult school child. It was a huge hit in France, becoming the 12th most popular film of the year.
After that, Brigitte starred in Plucking the Daisy, a comedy film that also proved to be a great success. As did the comedy that followed, The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful. Brigitte was going from strength to strength in French cinema. In this image, she is pictured at the beach during the Cannes film festival posing with a beach ball in the early ’50s.
The Film That Changed Her Life
It was one particular film that catapulted Brigitte into stardom. She was the lead actress in And God Created Woman, which also marked Roger’s directorial debut. It was a romantic motion-picture that succeeded in showing off Brigitte’s figure. There were semi-nude scenes throughout, including a famous “bikini scene” that shocked audiences.
Acting alongside established actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Curt Jurgens, Brigitte played the character of a rebellious teenager in a respectable town. The film proved to be hugely successfull oversees as well as in France, even becoming one of the top ten films in Britain that year.
That Dance Scene
And God Created Woman featured one particular scene that was especially captivating to the audience. At the end of the film, there is a dance scene in a bar, in which Brigitte’s petulant character gets carried away in the music. It was especially provocative and sensual and contributed to Brigitte’s famously seductive public image.
In the scene, she jumps on a tabletop as men around her play the bongos or gawk. But she was well equipped to take on the scene due to her classical dance training in her childhood and teens. While her dancing in that scene is spontaneous and wild, you can see that she’s underneath it all she’s a pro.
Brigitte’s Wandering Eye
With Brigitte gaining more and more notoriety both in France and internationally, and Roger gaining success as a writer and director of films, new and exciting opportunities were opening up that would encourage distance from one another. Brigitte would soon prove to be a lot more like her character in And God Created Woman.
Bardot was said to have had two affairs during her marriage to Roger. The pair had not had any children, as they had been busy with their careers. Despite Brigitte’s infidelities, Roger was surprisingly understanding of the situation, even declaring that he had expected it to happen.
The Final Straw
Bardot ended up having an affair and falling in love with her And God Created Woman co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant. He was married at the time to French film actress Stephane Audran, complicating matters further. In the end, Brigitte and Roger divorced after four years of marriage with Brigitte moving in with Jean-Louis.
Roger once said on the topic that “I knew what was happening and rather expected it.” He continues “I would always prefer to have that kind of wife, knowing she is unfaithful to me rather than possess a woman who just loved me and no one else. I wanted a woman with spirit, with joie de vivre… a woman with a sense of adventure and curiosity.”
Becoming a Blonde Bombshell
For the 1956 Italian historical comedy Mio figlio Nerone, Brigitte was told by director Stefano Vanzina that she would need to appear blonde for the role. Instead of opting for a wig, which was a reasonable possibility, she decided to dye her naturally light brown hair a peroxide blonde.
She was so happy with how it turned out that she decided to keep it. She continued to redye it when needed, and it became one of her most defining features. Along with actresses Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield, Brigitte would become one of the most famous and beguiling blondes in the history of Hollywood.
Frequent Virus Outbreaks
Even though Brigitte’s acting career was going from strength to strength, she found it very hard to cope with the pressure of being in the public eye. She has spoken out about her anxiety when acting: “In the beginning, I enjoyed having people talking about me, but very quickly, it suffocated and destroyed me.”
She explained that her stress would take a physical toll on her body. “Throughout my 20 years starring in movies, each time filming began, I would break out with herpes.” Having a cold sore when you need to be on camera definitely sounds like a spell of bad luck.
An Encounter With Pablo Picasso
In 1956, Brigitte had arranged for a meeting with the famous painter Pablo Picasso. She drove for 15 minutes to his studio at Vallauris, near Cannes, for an introduction and a little tour of his personal space. She wrote years later that “He showed me his canvases, his ceramics, his studio. He was simple, intelligent, a bit indifferent and lovely.”
She continues: “That was our first and last encounter. I often wanted to ask him to make a portrait of me, but I never dared…” Interestingly, Picasso’s young blonde muse Lydia Corbett, whom he painted over 40 times, remembers Brigitte’s keen desire to model for him: “She really wanted to be painted by him but Picasso refused, saying he would only have one model at a time.”
Was She Copying Picasso’s Muse?
Pablo Picasso’s young muse Lydia went so far as to suggest that Brigitte got the idea of dying her locks a light blonde color from her own hairstyle. She recalls their encounter. “I only had one, brief meeting with Brigitte Bardot, when we passed each other on the promenade at Cannes during the film festival of 1954.”
She explained, adding “She was on Vadim’s arm and I was on Picasso’s, and of course, we took a long look at each other and the men took a long look at us. The next time I saw her, she was no longer a brunette but had dyed her hair blonde to match mine,” Lydia claims that she had still kept her “fashionable dark eyelashes” but that she had also “adopted the ponytail” style that she wore. “But really it wasn’t as stylish as mine,” Lydia jabbed.
The Leading Lady in La Parisienne
In 1957 Brigitte starred in the film La Parisienne, a French technicolor comedy film in which she acted alongside Charles Boyer and Henri Vidal (pictured.) She played the daughter of the French president who marries her father’s secretary but endures a jealousy-filled relationship with him.
La Parisienne was the first film she made after And God Created Woman. Once again, she played the part of a seductive young woman in high society who leads a decadent and promiscuous life. She was depicted as having extramarital affairs and being generally provocative.
Chasing the Male Gaze
It’s easy to see how her public persona as a promiscuous young woman who craved male attention could get weary. She spoke in later life of her struggles in relationships with men. She claimed that they “didn’t know how to separate the love they felt for me from what I represented in the eyes of the world,” – a problematic situation for a famous actress.
There has also been a sense of despair in things she has said: “If only every man who sees my films did not get the impression he can make love to me, I would be a lot happier.” Having to constantly keep up appearances as the woman that men expected her to be, she felt as if she “gave my beauty and my youth to men.” It couldn’t have been easy feeling people only want one thing.
The Bikini Pioneer
Despite the frustrations of life in the public eye, Brigitte did have a lot of influence on pop culture, fashion, and beauty. When she was photographed on the beach in Cannes in her bikini, it caused quite the stir at the time with the press. When she starred in Manina, the Girl in the Bikini in her second-ever film role, it was one of the first times a bikini had ever appeared in cinema.
Images of her in a two-piece swimsuit are credited with popularizing the bikini in Europe. America would catch on to wearing it a little later. It’s something that we take for granted as an acceptable form of clothing today, but it was very much taboo half a century ago.
On Good Terms With the Ex
Despite the dissolution of their marriage, the Brigitte and Roger remained on amicable terms. In fact, Brigitte had a lot of good things to say about the influence Roger had on her life. She recalls, “Vadim was both my teacher and my husband. I placed myself entirely in his hands.”
Brigitte even displayed a lot of hesitance about her acting ability in her younger years, having once asserted “I started out as a lousy actress and have remained one.” But ex-husband Roger “changed my mind about acting. Vadim was the only man who was certain I had something special to offer.”
A New Love Blossoms
It wasn’t long before Brigitte met and fell in love with a new admirer. Jacques Charrier was a handsome French actor she met not long after her split with Jean-Louis Trintignant. They starred together in the French war-comedy movie Babette Goes to War (1959) in which Brigitte plays the housekeeper and title character of the production.
Babette Goes to War turned out to be the first film she starred in since she shot to fame in which she didn’t take off her clothes. They had a passionate romance together resulting in a pregnancy. But they weren’t married at the time, and that needed to change fast.
A Rosy Bride
Brigitte and Jacques had their wedding on 18 June 1959, but this time Brigitte chose to leave behind bridal traditions. In stark contrast to her long and modest white wedding dress for her first wedding, she went for a far less classical style. In fact, it wasn’t a wedding dress at all.
She opted for a pink and white gingham dress with lace trim and an orange slip. It was also a lot shorter than wedding dresses of the time, ending at just below the knee. It was still early on in their pregnancy, so as we can see, there isn’t a visible bump on show. They were married in Louveciennes, north-central France.
Eating For Two
When Brigitte fell pregnant, it came as an unexpected and unwanted surprise: “I am not finding pregnancy much of a joy,” she admitted at the time. “I am afraid of childbirth, but I am afraid I can’t find a way of avoiding it.” Even when discovering that she was pregnant she didn’t take the news too well.
In memoirs she wrote in later years, she recalls from 1959: “I looked at my flat, slender belly in the mirror like a dear friend upon whom I was about to close a coffin lid.” Motherhood didn’t feel right for a 25-year-old Brigitte and resented having to endure the whole process of it.
It’s not difficult to see that her own childhood experiences with her mother left her with a bad taste in her mouth and an unwillingness to experience it again. She revealed in her memoirs how she had initially tried to rid herself of her situation in dangerous and harmful ways.
She even begged her doctor for intervention but didn’t receive the treatments she wanted. She would come to write about her child as having been a “cancerous tumor,” and that she would have far “preferred to give birth to a little dog”. Unsurprisingly, these words were incredibly hurtful to family members in years to come.
A Child Is Born
On the 11th of January 1960, Brigitte gave birth to a healthy baby boy. She and Jacques named him Nicolas-Jacques Charrier and began raising him in their villa in France. But it wasn’t the life she had chosen, and on her 26th birthday shortly after she gave birth, she tried to take her own life.
Years later she confessed to the world that “I’m not made to be a mother.” she continued: “I’m not adult enough – I know it’s horrible to have to admit that, but I’m not adult enough to take care of a child.” Despite her picture-perfect life, Brigitte wasn’t finding herself where she wanted to be. Naturally, she had a very troubled relationship with Nicolas in later life, as we’ll come to find out about.
Romance Is Dead
On top of her unwanted voyage into motherhood, her marriage to Jacques wasn’t fairing too well. In later years she would come to describe Jacques as, among other things, a failed actor and singer who dealt with his short-comings through alcohol and catty remarks about other stars.
She also claimed that Jacques denied her enough access to their son for “trivial reasons. All in all, their marriage was somewhat of a disastrous affair, and resulted in criticisms from both sides as they got older. As Brigitte has once said, “I have not always loved wisely, but I was young.”
Brigitte and Jacques divorced in 1962, with Jacques and his family taking custody of their only child and raising him on their own. Brigitte turned her focus on to her acting career, focusing more on filming for international movies. In 1963 she starred in the drama Le Mépris directed by Jean-Luc Godard.
But she had still been filming while married, jumping straight back into work just two months after giving birth. But the films she made directly after her divorce were generally not so successful. She also had a low-profile affair with Canadian-American actor Glenn Ford around this time.
Who Needs the Privacy
Brigitte was recieving intense and constant press attention. She was hounded by the paparazzi and the newspaper press, who all wanted the latest and juiciest gossip about the star. At first, she welcomed all the attention and recognition that press attention brought.
She had also started seeing the German photographer Gunter Sachs. He was a millionaire playboy who was romantically linked to many women, one of whom was the former Iranian empress Soraya Esfandiary. They enjoyed a lavish lifestyle with their combined successful careers and sizable incomes.
Loyal to France
Despite her growing success overseas, Brigitte never moved to Hollywood like many would have expected her to. She has explained that “at the peak of my great cinematographic glory, I always refused to move to the US, to remain the representative of a France.” She may not have been faithful in her relationships, but she was to her country.
She revealed that she would not leave the country that “made me Marianne’ [the national symbol] after I brought more foreign exchange into the country than the Renault company. Along with General de Gaulle and the Eiffel Tower, I am perhaps the best known French person in the world!”
Her Third Marriage
Brigitte’s relationship and marriage to Gunter Sachs was a high-profile affair. Both were big celebrities, so when they got married in July of 1966, everyone wanted to know about it. They eloped in Las Vegas, with Brigitte forgoing the bridal dress code altogether by wearing an orange minidress.
Surprisingly, she also didn’t wear any shoes. He gave her three rings during the ceremony; one which was red, one which had diamonds along the band, and one made up of blue sapphires. It was representative of the “tricolore” colors, a touching statement as both their native countries were enemies.
Today’s Forecast: Flower Shower
Gunter wasn’t scared of a bold gesture here and there. The story of how they started dating began with him arranging for a helicopter to drop hundreds of red roses over La Madrague, her property in Côte d’Azur. “It’s not every day a man drops a ton of roses in your backyard,” Brigitte later wrote.
“He romanced me like James Bond,” she recalls of their whirlwind romance, and it’s easy to see why. This showy relationship with Gunter is said to be what put the seaside town along the French Riviera, St Tropez, on the map. They seemed like a good match, too, as they had been a part of the same social circle for the last few years before striking a connection at a dinner party.
A Daliance With Dali?
Brigitte’s high-profile status put her in the company of another famous artist. She met Salvador Dali, the surrealist Spanish painter, in the ’60s at a diner party. In this iconic photo, Brigitte and Dali hold up a gold Loving Cup (a shared drinking cup usually found at weddings and banquets or given as a trophy.)
Years later, Dali was bizarrely asked if he should wish to engage with Bardot in a sadistic setting. He responded: “No, I have absolutely no sadistic impulses… I’m a first-rate Voyeur and I should enjoy the spectacle.” Whether there was chemistry between the two, it’s hard to say!
Going Where the Passion Takes You
Having bought a seashore villa close to where Brigitte lived, Gunter initially met the actress through her sister, Mijanou. But Brigitte couldn’t help being swept off her feet once more. “I’d already known and loved many men, I’d had passionate affairs,” she later wrote in her autobiography about the night she met Gunter.
Despite her already rich romantic life, things were different that night. “But that evening, I was hypnotized. I seemed to be flying as if carried by Gunter into a fairytale world I had never known and would never know again,” she revealed. Perhaps that’s why they tied the knot so soon into their relationship.
But things weren’t to last between the high-profile couple. They were married for over three years, from 1966 to 1969, but weren’t especially close during that time. “While we were married, all told, I don’t think we spent more than three months together,” Brigitte once revealed.
She explained: “I cheated on Gunter, of course, and he was unfaithful too, a lot more than I was.” During their marriage, they had separate apartments and more or less led separate lives. They didn’t even have keys to each other’s places, but in hindsight, it becomes clear why not. Here, Bridget’s sits on the floor of her Paris apartment.
It’s Better to Be Unfaithful
In his older years, Gunter would remark that he had overlooked the fact that they had incompatible star-signs, an important issue for him as he was a strong believer in astrology. And it didn’t take him long to bounce back, having married the Swedish model Mirja Larsson the same year of the divorce.
Brigitte, on the other hand, was already dating a future co-star of hers by the time the divorce was finalized. She had been seeing actor Patrick Gilles since 1968 – a year before her and Gunter split. “It’s better to be unfaithful than faithful without wanting to be,” the bombshell once remarked.
Throughout the mid-sixties, Brigitte continued to star in films, but many hadn’t performed as she had hoped. The Hollywood film Dear Brigitte was released in 1965 where she starred opposite American actor James Stewart, but her appearance in it was brief and it didn’t turn out to be a huge hit movie.
She also starred in the Western adventure comedy Viva Maria! that same year, which didn’t appeal to American audiences as much as had been expected. In this photo, she appears on the set. In 1966, she would appear in the French new wave romantic drama Masculin Féminin, which received mixed reviews.
The Sultry Songstress
Aside from acting, Brigitte devoted more time to singing. She recorded many songs, a lot of which became very popular. “Bubble gum,” “L’Appareil À Sous,” and “Tu Veux, Ou Tu Veux Pas?” were among some of her best known. Mostly, she collaborated with French pop legend Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Zagury, and Sacha Distel.
In the late sixties, she famously recorded the song “Je t’aime… moi non-plus” with Serge Gainsbourg, before begging him not to release their duet. It was a steamy love song that the press had taken to understand was evidence of a romantic fling (which they did have.) Brigitte feared a public scandal, and Serge agreed not to release it. “The music is very pure,” he once said. “For the first time in my life I write a love song, and what happens? They take it the wrong way.”