British actress and singer Jane Birkin created a huge international notion in the mid 1960s for appearing nude in the controversial movie Blow-Up (1966) before resurfacing as a respected talent in the French cinema. She has collected four César nominations for performances in the movies Serge Gainsbourg’s Je t’aime... moi non plus (1975), Jacques Doillon’s La pirate/The Pirate (1984), Femme de ma vie, La (1986) and Jacques Rivette’s La belle noiseuse (1992). Additionally, she is also known for playing roles in Dust (1985), Kung Fu Master (1987), Jane B. par Agnes V (1988), Daddy Nostalgia (1990), A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (1998), The Last September (1999), The Very Merry Widows (2003) and, more recently, In Mom’s Head (2007) and Boxes (2007). As a singer, Birkin is probably best regarded for popularizing the worldwide hit “Je t’aime... moi non plus” (“I love you... me neither”), written by Gainsbourg.
“By meeting people in Sarajevo I realized I had nothing to complain about-they’d lost children crossing the road trying to find water. I stopped thinking about my problems and would sit with women in underground places, singing songs.” Jane Birkin
Off screen, Birkin, whose measurements are 32A-24-37 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine), is a philanthropist. She has been a supporter of Amnesty International, concerning on immigrant wellbeing and AIDS subjects. She also has visited such places as Bosnia, Rwanda and Palestinian Territories, where she frequently working with children. Birkin has been given an OBE for her dedication to acting, and the Ordre National du Mérite in France.
On a more private note, the 5-foot-9½-inch performer was married to composer John Barry from 1965 to 1968 and to singer/musician/actor Serge Gainsbourg from 1968 to 1980. She had a long-running relationship with director Jacques Doillon (together from 1980 to 1992). She is the mother of three, photographer Kate Barry, actress Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon.
Mother of 3
Childhood and Family:
Jane Mallory Birkin was born on December 14, 1946, in London, England. She is the second child of David Birkin, a Royal Navy commandant and World War II intelligence hero, and actress-singer Judy Campbell, who was a second half-cousin of the philosopher Bertrand Russell. Her older brother is writer-director Andrew Birkin. She was educated at London’s Kensington Academy.
At age 19, in 1965, Jane married English composer John Barry. After welcoming a daughter, Kate Barry, in 1967, they divorced a year later in 1968. Jane then moved to France and soon got married with Paris-born famous singer and musician Serge Gainsbourg (died at age 62 on March 2, 1991), whom she met on the set of French movie Slogan. They had a daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, on July 21, 1971, but divorced in 1980, after 12 years of marriage. Jane gave birth to her third daughter, Lou Doillon, in 1983, with director-companion Jacques Doillon.
I love you... me neither
As a teenager, Jane Birkin decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps, and began auditioning. At age 17, she made her London stage debut as a young deaf-mute in Graham Greene’s “Carving a Statue.” She went on to appear in the musical “Passion Flower Hotel” at the Prince of Wales Theater where she got an opportunity to show her singing talent for the first time. In 1965, Birkin made the leap into features with Richard Lester’s The Knack...and How to Get It, appearing as Girl on Motorbike, and was recruited by filmmaker Michelangelo Antonioni to star as one of the models in his controversial movie, Blow Up, in the following year. She made a massive international impression with her nude appearance.
Following an unsuccessful marriage, Birkin relocated to France and found work in French director Pierre Grimblat’s, Slogan (1969), starring along side the soon-to-be-husband Serge Gainsbourg. Later that same year, Birkin and Gainsbourg made headlines with the song “Je t’aime... moi non plus” (“I love you... me neither”), penned by Gainsbourg and featuring both of them singing. The song created an indignity for its sexual explicitness and was banned by radio stations in Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. On the other hand, the Birkin sumptuous lovemaking sighs became a hit all through the world.
Birkin took a short hiatus from acting from 1971 to 1972, but resurfaced in the next year as the lover of Brigitte Bardot in Don Juan (or If Don Juan Were a Woman), directed by Roger Vadim. She reunited with Gainsbourg in 1976 when he made his feature directorial debut in Je t’aime... moi non plus, about the diminutive waitress Johnny who has a lonely life and longs for love. As Johnny, she was nominated for a César for Best Actress. She acted in six more movies during the second half of the 1970s, including playing Louise Bourget, along side Peter Ustinov, in the Oscar-winning Death on the Nile (1978), based on a novel by Agatha Christie.
Next, Birkin starred in such movies as the French filmmaker Jacques Doillon’s, La fille prodigue (1981, as Anne), Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun (1982), teamed up with director Jacques Rivette for Love on the Ground (1984), costarring with Geraldine Chaplin, and earned her next César nomination in the drama La pirate/The Pirate (1984), directed and written by Doillon. The accomplishment led to an invention from Patrice Chéreau to star on stage in La Fausse suivante by Marivaux at Nanterre. In the based-on-novel Dust (1985), the actress gave a remarkable turn as a South African spinster who kills her father after he rapes the black foreman’s wife for his plantation, and collected another César nomination after starring in the drama/romance Femme de ma vie, La (1986). Birkin once again became the center of attention with her role in director Agnès Varda’s Kung Fu Master (1987), in which she also contributed the idea of the story. There she starred as a 40-year-old woman keeping on a scorching affair with a 15-year-old boy. To demonstrate her respect for Birkin, Varda then made the feature-length documentary Jane B. par Agnes V (1988), which starred Birkin as Laura.
1990 saw Birkin offer a touching performance opposite Dirk Bogarde in the Bertrand Tavernier-directed Daddy Nostalgia, and rejoined director Jacques Rivette in the following year for La belle noiseuse, where she nabbed a 1992 César for her scene-stealing performance opposite Michel Piccoli. She went on to star in Agnes Varda’s One Hundred and One Nights (1995, released in the USA in 1999), Alain Resnais’ On connait la chanson/Same Old Song (1997), Merchant Ivory’s A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries (1998, as a bohemian mother named Fortescue) and The Last September (1999), the feature directorial debut of stage director Deborah Warner. In addition, she revisited the stage by appearing in “Woman of Troy” at the National Theatre in England in 1996 and recorded radio production of her play “Oh Sorry, Were You Asleep” in 1999.
Entering the new millennium, Birkin could be seen in the made-for-television film Cinderella (2000) and the movies Ceci est mon corps/ This Is My Body (2001) and Reines d’un jour (2001). She then costarred with Dianne Wiest in Merci Docteur Rey (2002), starred as Renée in Mariées mais pas trop/The Very Merry Widows (2003) and costarred in the French telepic Aventuriers des mers du Sud, Les (2006). More recently, she acted in Carine Tardieu’s In Mom’s Head (2007) and the Cannes-premiered Boxes (2007), also serving as director and writer.