The French actress and singer, who rose to prominence in 1950s Europe, found a warm embrace from American audiences as well. However, after gracefully stepping out of the limelight, she chose to invest her wealth in animal welfare rather than undergoing plastic surgery. Now, when you catch a glimpse of this iconic figure today, it’s hard not to be inspired and touched.
Born on September 28, 1934, in France, Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot has always been a captivating beauty. Yet, her inner beauty shines just as brightly. Bardot’s unwavering love for animals throughout her life has earned her my admiration, and I will forever hold a special place in my heart for this elegant woman.
At the tender age of 15, she embarked on a modeling career. Initially aspiring to become a ballerina, fate took her in a different direction, gracing the cover of Elle magazine as a teenager.
As one opportunity led to another, the talented young woman transitioned into acting, catching the eye of French intellectuals. She made appearances in several early ’50s films, capturing the hearts of the post-war European generation. Bardot catapulted to global stardom with her sensational role in “And God Created Woman” in 1956, a movie that created her iconic “sex kitten” persona. Interestingly, in the more conservative United States, the film stirred controversy and criticism, with some theater managers even facing legal repercussions for screening it.
Born into a prosperous family of industrialists, Bardot played a pivotal role in reshaping the image of the modern woman, thanks to her chic and natural style. Ironically, as a young girl, she considered herself “ugly” and never imagined she would one day be hailed as the epitome of beauty. She once remarked, “I’m a girl from a good family who was very well brought up. One day I turned my back on it all and became a bohemian.”
Her first significant English-language role came as the love interest of Dirk Bogarde in “Doctor at Sea.” By the mid-1960s, she aimed for international stardom. While she made her debut in Hollywood in 1966 with “Dear Brigitte,” winning over the American audience proved challenging, and the film didn’t make a significant impact.
With her long, blonde locks, flawless complexion, sensuous lips, and voluptuous curves, Bardot was impossible to overlook. Yet, her Hollywood endeavors met with mixed success, including the 1968 film “Shalako,” where she starred alongside Sean Connery.
In a surprising move in 1973, Bardot shocked her fans by announcing her retirement, even though she remained a prominent figure in the entertainment industry. The pressure of celebrity life had become suffocating for her.
She explained her decision, stating, “The majority of great actresses met tragic ends. When I said goodbye to this job, to this life of opulence and glitter, images and adoration, the quest to be desired, I was saving my life. In the beginning, I enjoyed having people talking about me, but very quickly, it suffocated and destroyed me. Throughout my 20 years starring in movies, each time filming began, I would break out with herpes.”
Following her retirement, she withdrew from the public eye and became a recluse. However, Bardot eventually emerged from seclusion and decided to utilize her fame for a noble cause. Thirteen years after retiring, she founded the Brigitte Bardot Foundation in 1986, with her interest in animal welfare dating back to 1962 when she was just 28 years old.
Roger Vadim, the director of “And God Created Woman” and Bardot’s first husband, revealed, “She did not get much affection from her parents, and when we started dating, she didn’t want jewels, but a dog. She was always allergic to fame, power, and everything that connoted success. The innocence and honesty of animals reassured her.”
The foundation has been at the forefront of animal rights advocacy, supporting conservation programs and financing a wild animal hospital in Chile. It has also established facilities for mistreated bears in Bulgaria, koalas in Australia, and elephants in Thailand.
Today, at 89 years old, Brigitte Bardot’s legacy remains intact. In 2020, Vogue celebrated her as one of “The most beautiful French actresses of all time.” Reports suggest that she resides in the French coastal town of La Madrague, where she is married to Bernard d’Ormal, a wealthy businessman, since their wedding on August 16, 1992, in Norway.
Bardot continues to be a dedicated and active animal rights activist. When asked in an interview with Vogue what motivates her each day, she responded, “The suffering of animals. You probably know that I find walking difficult these days. I can’t go for long walks any more, or go swimming. But I’m lucky, compared to what animals suffer. The dozens of letters I receive every day testify to the horrors that animals are still being subjected to.”