Born on this day in Paris, Brigitte Anne-Marie Bardot (1934-) was raised in a strict Catholic home, trained as a ballerina, and modeled before transforming into the international sex symbol of the '50s and '60s.
"Watching her walk," said French movie star Jeanne Moreau, "was just like listening to great music."
Bardot's picture on the cover of Elle magazine led to her role in the 1956 film Et Dieu créa la femme (And God Created Woman), which displayed the beautiful kitten in all her nude glory. Time magazine described her controversial appearance as "stretched end to end of the CinemaScope screen, bottoms up and bare as a censor's eyeball."
"Public opinion?" said the legend with typical outspoken candor. "I sit on it."
She titillated and excited audiences, personifying the blonde half-girl, half-woman mystique shared by Marilyn Monroe: pouting, sexy, desirable. About aging Bardot revealed, "I will never grow old until I stop growing up."
Writer Simone de Beauvoir described the young Bardot as the most perfect specimen of ambiguous nymph. "Seen from behind, her slender, muscular, dancer's body is almost androgynous. Femininity triumphs in her delightful bosom...a saint would sell his soul to the devil merely to watch her dance."
In 1973, B.B. retired from movies and transformed again from actress to activist. "It is sad to grow old but nice to ripen," said the breast cancer survivor who has established the Brigitte Bardot Foundation to defend animal rights.
"I gave my beauty and my youth to men. I am going to give my wisdom and experience -- the best of me -- to animals."
More Film-Making Quotations
Stretch and purr... Every woman is a cat.