Brigitte Bardot - Biography
By J Poet
Brigitte Bardot is best known as “The Sex Kitten,” one of the first actors born outside of the US to achieve worldwide superstardom. She made 48 films during her career, but was also a fine singer. She made several albums and a number of EPs in the 60s, and sang in a smoky, sultry tone that was in keeping with her image. On up-tempo numbers she may have lacked range, but delivered the tunes with plenty of spunk, not unlike Nancy Sinatra, another limited singer who was able to get by on her good looks and forceful attitude. In the 70s, she became famous for her outspoken support of animal rights, but during the 90s she was convicted five times for inciting racial hatred for her anti-immigration, anti-Islamic and anti-gay remarks.
Bardot was born in 1934 in Paris, and grew up wanting to be a ballerina. She studied at The National Superior Conservatory of Paris for Music and Dance, but was discovered by ELLE magazine and became a model instead. Director Roger Vadim saw her photo, married her, and put her in 17 lightweight French comedies. In the mid 50s she made three English language films - Doctor at Sea (1955) with Dirk Bogard, Helen of Troy (1954), and Act of Love (1954) with Kirk Douglas. They made her a sensation in the US. Her pout became so famous models are still imitating it today. In 1956, Vadim put her in And God Created Woman and she became an overnight sensation, voted the sexiest woman of the 50s by film critics the world over.
Vie privée, directed by Louis Malle in 1960 and Jean-Luc Godard's Contempt (1963.) Bardot also starred in several live music reviews and made pop singles and albums, mostly collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg, Bob Zagury and Sacha Distel. Brigitte Bardot (1963 Phillips France, 2000 Polygram International) was produced and arranged by jazz pianist Claude Bolling and includes tangos, jazz, lounge bar come ons, and French pop, delivered in Bardot’s husky, chill inducing whisper. In 1967, Bardot hosted a variety TV show that featured her singing pop, psychedelic rock, and smoky cabaret ballads. Brigitte Bardot Show (2002 Disc AZ France) collects several performances from her one off show, including instrumental tracks of incidental music.
In 1968 Bardot and her then boyfriend Serge Gainsbourg cut Bonnie and Clyde (1968 Philips, 2004 Polygram France) her masterpiece. Gainsbourg's distanced growl and Bardot’s throaty growl produce the same kind of dark frisson as the Lee Hazelwood/Nancy Sinatra duets of the same era. B.B. (1969 Fontana France, 2007 Universal) is a more straightforward French pop album that probably would have sold well even without a record in the jacket, because of the steamy portrait of BB on the cover. It’s a bit of a let down after the spark set off by Bonnie and Clyde.
Bardot once said that she’d rather sing than act, but after she stopped making movies in the 70s, she also stopped recording. Most of her best songs are collected on Initiales B. B. (1999 Polygram France) including the duets with Serge Gainsbourg, the early singles, and plenty of steamy photos.