Brigitte Bardot was born in Paris, France on September 28, 1934, in an upper-middle-class Roman Catholic household. As a child, she began to study ballet. At the age of seven, Bardot attended private school three days a week, and otherwise studied at home. This gave time for lessons at Madame Bourget’s dance studio, a ballet school three days a week.
After World War II concluded, Bardot was accepted to the Conservatoire de Paris. For three years she attended ballet classes by Russian choreographer Boris Knyazev, where she was given the nickname Bardot “Bichette” (“Little Doe”).
In 1949 she modeled in a fashion show as well as for a fashion magazine Jardin des Modes, which was managed by journalist Hélène Lazareff. At 15, she appeared on a 1950 cover of Elle and was noticed by the movie director, Roger Vadim, while babysitting. He showed an issue of the magazine to director and screenwriter Marc Allégret, who begged Bardot to audition for Les lauriers sont coupés. Although Bardot got the role, the movie was cancelled. This experience made her consider becoming an actress. Her relationship with Vadim, who attended the audition, influenced her career and life. They married in 1952.
Early 1950’s Acting Career
Bardot debuted in a highly popular comedy Le Trou Normand. She played the lead in Manina, The Girl in the Bikini. She had a small role in The Long Teeth, followed by a leading role in the comedy, His Father’s Portrait.
Bardot first Hollywood-financed film shot in Paris, Act of Love, co-starring Kirk Douglas. She received media attention when she attended the Cannes Film Festival in April 1953. Bardot had a leading role in an Italian melodrama, Concert of Intrigue and in a French adventure film, Caroline and the Rebels. She had a good part as a flirtatious student in School for Love.
Bardot played her first sizeable English language role in Doctor at Sea, which was the third most popular movie at the British box office that year.
She had a small role in The Grand Maneuver followed by larger roles in The Light Across the Street and Helen of Troy, playing Helen’s handmaiden.
Bardot dyed her hair blonde in 1956 for the 1956 Italian movie Mio figlio Nerone, which established her signature look. Superstardom was around the corner for the doe eyed vixen.
Superstardom and Relationship Trouble
Bardot’s next three films (Naughty Girl, Plucking the Daisy and The Bride Is Much Too Beautiful) gained her acclaim and a large fan following, but it was the fourth, And God Created Woman turned her into an international superstar.
During the filming of this movie Bardot began an affair with her co-star Jean-Louis Trintignant. The two began to live together while Bardot was still married and stayed together for two years. The relationship was strained due to Trintignant’s military service, which led Bardot to have an affair with musician Gilbert Bécaud.
Bardot followed up And God Created Woman with La Parisienne, The Night Heaven Fell and In Case of Adversity.
Around this time her break-up with Trintignant caused Bardot to suffer a nervous breakdown in Italy. She recovered a few weeks later. She then began an affair with the actor Jacques Charrier and quickly became pregnant. They were married shortly thereafter and their son, Bardot’s only child, Nicolas-Jacques Charrier, was born on 11 January 1960. After they divorced in 1962, Nicolas was raised by Charrier’s parents. He had little contact with Bardot until he reached adulthood.
Mainstream Movies and Singing Career
During the 1960’s Bardot began a singing career that had produced plenty of hits in France and around Europe including Harley Davidson, Je Me Donne À Qui Me Plaît and Bubble Gum. She released music well into the 1970s.
Movies she appeared in during this period included some famous co-stars. Bardot starred in Le Mépris with Jack Palance, Une Ravissante Idiote with Anthony Perkins and Shalako with Sean Connery. As the 1960s drew to a close Bardot’s career began to wane. As the 1970s approached so did a new chapter in her life.