Jane Birkin  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Jane Mallory Birkin (born 14 December 1946) is an actress and singer best-known for her romantic association with Serge Gainsbourg and as vocalist to the controversial Je t'aime... moi non plus.



Birkin emerged in the swinging '60s in London, starring as one of the models in the controversial 1966 film Blowup In "Blowup" Birkin had the distinction of being the first actress to show pubic hair in a mainstream British movie. In 1968, Birkin went to France to audition for the lead female role in Slogan. Though she did not speak French, she got the role. She met her future husband Serge Gainsbourg on set.

In 1969, she and Serge Gainsbourg released the song "Je t'aime... moi non plus" ("I love you... me neither" or, less literally, "love-hate relationship"), written by Gainsbourg and featuring both of them singing, which caused a scandal for its sexual explicitness. Arguably due in part to the publicity it got from being banned by radio stations in Italy, Spain, and the UK, it was a commercial success all over Europe. The song's fame is a result of its salacious lyrics (sung in French) against a background of female moaning and groaning, culminating in an orgasm at the song's conclusion.

Birkin took a break from acting in 1971-72, but returned as Brigitte Bardot's lover in Don Juan (or if Don Juan were a woman) in 1973.

In 1975, she appeared in Gainsbourg's first film, also entitled Je t'aime... moi non plus, which created a stir for frank examination of sexual ambiguity. For this performance she was nominated for a Best Actress César Award.

Birkin has starred in the Agatha Christie films Death on the Nile and Evil Under the Sun, and recorded several albums, including Baby Alone in Babylone, Amours des Feintes, Lolita Go Home and Rendez-vous. She has obtained in the category Female Artist of the year in France the Victoires de la Musique award in 1992 .

She starred in two films by Jacques Doillon — as Anne in La fille prodigue (1981) and as Alma in La pirate (1984, nominated for a César Award). This work led to an invitation from Patrice Chéreau to star on stage in La Fausse suivante by Marivaux at Nanterre. After this, she also began to appear frequently on stage in plays and concerts (in France, Japan, the UK and then the US).

Jacques Rivette collaborated with her for Love on the Ground (1983) and La belle noiseuse (1991, Nominated Césars best supporting actress). Additionally, she appeared in Merchant Ivory's A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries (1998, also used her song "Di Doo Dah") and Merci Docteur Rey (2002), while Le Divorce's end title song featured her singing "L'Anamour", composed by Serge Gainsbourg.

In 2006, she played Elektra, directed by Philippe Calvario in France.

Despite decades of residence in France and the ability to speak French fluently, Birkin still retains a strong English accent and makes grammatical mistakes when speaking French. Some suggest the mannerism is deliberate.

Jane Birkin's humanitarian interests led her to work with Amnesty International, on immigrant welfare and AIDS issues. Birkin has also visited Bosnia, Rwanda. and Palestinian Territories, often working with children. She has been awarded an OBE for her services to acting, as well as the Ordre National du Mérite in France.

In 2001, Birkin was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her services to acting.

She has made musical collaborations and duets with artists such as Feist, Beth Gibbons from Portishead, Bryan Ferry, Brian Molko from Placebo, Franz Ferdinand, Manu Chao, Brett Anderson from Suede, Mickey (3d), Françoise Hardy, Cali, The Divine Comedy, The Magic Numbers, Paolo Conte, Beck, Rufus Wainwright, Yann Tiersen, Alain Souchon, Les Negresses Vertes, Johnny Marr from The Smiths, Zazie, MC Solaar, Yosui Inoue, Étienne Daho, Alain Chamfort, Jimmy Rowles, Goran Bregović, Sonny Landreth, The Soundtrack of Our Lives and many others.

Birkin recorded the song "Beauty" on French producer Hector Zazou's 2003 album Strong Currents.

Her image features on the cover art of Have You Fed the Fish? by singer-songwriter Badly Drawn Boy (which features her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg on backing vocals).

Birkin Bag

Hermès named and designed a handbag - the Birkin bag - for her in 1984 after the actress was seen in 1981 by the head of Hermès struggling with several bags while boarding an aeroplane. The Birkin bag has become one of Hermès' most popular and expensive handbags.

Personal life

She was married from 1965 until 1968 to John Barry, an English composer who wrote the musical score to the James Bond movies. Their daughter, the photographer Kate Barry, was born in 1968.

She had a very passionate and creative relationship with her mentor Serge Gainsbourg — they met on the set of Slogan and married in 1968. They separated in 1980. Their daughter is actress Charlotte Gainsbourg.

In 1982 she gave birth to her third daughter, Lou Doillon, from her relationship with the director Jacques Doillon.



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