Meeting Brigitte Bardot
(Text by Edward Quinn)
The Brigitte Bardot myth still remains a phenomenon. Why? There are many interpretations. A French film historian explains that "Brigitte Bardot was not so much an actress, but was mere the personification of the youth of her generation and in this respect her career was as much 'social mythology' as dramatic art. Nevertheless, her talent as an actress should not be scorned and in any case in most of her roles she was 'irreplaceable'." During the fifties Brigitte Bardot — known as "BB"—was one of the most celebrated film stars in the world. Her type then represented the new vogue of sexy, shapely beauties. Up to then the type of femininity which was popular was personified by stars who had great style and elegance like Ingrid Bergman, Grace Kelly or Michèle Morgan. But in the fifties, as morals were changing, the public’s taste in feminine beauty also changed. A new wave of film stars, the denuded beauties, came. These alluring women were lauded as sex symbols and the public, especially in America, began to admire and idolize the glamorous women with prominent shapely busts and sleeky figures.
This was the time when a woman's figure was her fortune. It was also the time when „gentlemen began to prefer sizzling blondes“. Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe were the American beauties who typified these „femmes fatales“. In England Diana Dors and in France Martine Carol and Brigitte Bardot were the uncontested stars of the glorious era of the bosom and curvaceous female.
Brigitte Bardot had an advantage over the other screen favorites: her youth. She was a teenager who had the sensuality of a „femme fatale“ but looked and behaved like a „jeune-fille fatale“.Brigitte was one of the first of that kind of precocious seductive adolescents who became known as the „nymphets“ - the Lolitas of the fifties.
At the beginning of her career Brigitte was just a beautiful body, but then as the years went by, she had a way of getting onto the front page of the newspapers. Her love life was talked about by the newsmen and she became the European Marilyn Monroe.
Brigitte did not seem to have the temperament to settle down to married life. When she divorced Jacques Charrier she already had a new friend, the actor Sami Frey and after him she had many other young boy friends. Later she had a runaway marriage in Las Vegas with Gunter Sachs, but this marriage did not last long. Since then Brigitte preferred to continue to lead the life of a bachelor girl.
When the time came for Brigitte to decide whether to continue acting she made up her mind that she would not go from playing the „ingénue“ to doing matronly roles and like Greta Garbo, Brigitte practically gave up the cinema at the height of her career. She said once: „I suppose I was the type of girl who personified an epoch.“ And that epoch was gone.
Quinn wrote in 1956:
,,The impossible has happened. Brigitte Bardot, the sexy kitten of
French films, now refuses to be photographed except by her own special photographer Brigitte, who is now one of the most highly paid stars in France and Europe and whose fame has come mostly from her being photographed in sexy clothes and pose, has now become a second Greta Garbo and while off the set wears a heavy woolen shawl to cover her well-known features. Her present film is called ,La Parisienne‘ and in spite of all her precautions the candid camera was able to get these exclusive photographs on the film set (see below and here). But outside the studio while she was being accompanied to her dressing room she immediately hid her face as soon as she spotted the camera ...“
BB pictured on the set of 'Une Parisienne', Nice 1956.