Brigitte Bardot

Brigitte Bardot celebrates her 75th birthday on Monday. View our gallery of the legendary French sex symbol.

LAPI, Roger Viollet / Getty Images

LAPI, Roger Viollet / Getty Images

Young Star

Beautiful even as a baby, Brigitte Bardot was born September 28, 1934, in Paris to parents Anne-Marie ‘Toty’ Mucel and Louis ‘Pilou’ Bardot. She had one younger sister, Marie-Jeanne.

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Parisian Plie

Pictured here in France circa 1946, Bardot, encouraged by her mother, began training as a ballerina at an early age.

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Triple Threat

Bardot attended The National Superior Conservatory of Paris for Music and Dance and studied ballet for three years with Russian choreographer Boris Knyazev.

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Young Love

Bardot married director Roger Vadim in 1952, the same year she starred in her first film, the French comedy, Le Trou Normand (Crazy for Love).

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Sweet Innocence

In most of her early films, Bardot was cast as a young ingénue in lightweight romances.

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Hometown Girl

Brigitte Bardot garnered notice while attending the 8th International Cannes Film Festival in France—mainly for her beachside romps in bikinis.

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Serious Actress

Bardot’s husband decided Brigitte was ready for something more serious after she had appeared in 16 films between 1952 and 1956. He directed her in the controversial art-house film and huge hit And God Created Woman, co-starring Jean-Louis Trintignant.

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Pressure of Fame

Bardot reportedly suffered a nervous breakdown in the months prior to acting in the 1959 film The Woman and the Puppet.

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Finding Harmony

Not content to leave all her talents onscreen, Bardot recorded several songs, including duets with Serge Gainsbourg and Sacha Distel (both of whom she was rumored to be involved with).

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And God Created Bardot

Although it was filmed early during her career, Bardot’s film Manina, the Girl in the Bikini wasn’t released until 1958—surprising, considering Bardot spent a majority of the film in her infamous white two-piece.

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Moving On

After divorcing her first husband, Bardot married fellow actor and Babette Goes to War costar Jacques Charrier in 1959.

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Sex Symbol

Bardot modeled during her teenage years, but she gained even more notoriety for being a glamour model while her film career took off. Several of her photos became iconic images of the 1960s.

AP Photo

Domesticity

Bardot gave birth to her only child, Nicolas, in 1960. After she and her husband, Jacques Charrier, divorced two years later, Bardot had minimal contact with her son until many years later.

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South of the Border

Bardot traveled to Mexico to shoot the 1965 comedy Viva Maria! with actress Jeanne Moreau.

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New Friend

Brigitte Bardot on the set of the film A Coeur Joie (aka Two Weeks in September) directed by Serge Bourguignon. After she retired, Bardot became an outspoken animal rights activist, founding the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals.

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Bombshell Brigitte

Bardot became an A-list star in part due to her immense sex appeal—and tendency to bare it all on beaches and in photo spreads.

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Crowd Pleaser

Sightseers surround the French beauty in Hampstead, London, during a break from the filming of A Ravishing Idiot with costar Anthony Perkins.

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Life After Hollywood

Prior to her 40th birthday, Bardot announcing she was retiring from the red carpet and lights of Hollywood to pursue another passion: animal rights. In 1977, she headed to the polar ices of Canada for a five-day media tour to denounce the massacre of baby seals. Upon returning to France, Bardot helped pass a vote that banned products derived from hunting seals younger than four weeks old.

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Outspoken

Bardot, seen here in 1989, has come under fire in recent decades for inflammatory comments about mosques in France, among other controversial remarks.

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Call of the Wild

In 1996, after the French government authorized the killing of a wolf that was terrorizing sheep in the south of France, Bardot offered a $2,000 reward for anyone who captured the animal alive. “I adore wolves because they are animals who are poorly loved, who are rejected by society,” she said. She donated $100,000 to a nature reserve to protect the wolf population there.

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Animal Advocate

Brigitte Bardot is seen here with Traian Basescu, the mayor of Bucharest, Romania, after signing an agreement with the city in 2001 regarding the government's plans to reduce the number of street dogs without exterminating them. Bardot pledged her own funds and personnel to programs that sterilize the dogs rather than having them collected and euthanized.