Beauty is only skin deep, but French New Wave actress Brigitte Bardot had a lot of beauty. Her good looks made her into one of the most famous actresses of her generation. These 40 little-seen photographs help to demonstrate her astonishing sex appeal – the camera totally loved her.
40. In the film Doctor at Sea
Just before she really hit the big time, Bardot filmed the movie Doctor at Sea in England. She played the character Helene Colbert opposite Dirk Bogarde’s Simon Sparrow. It was her first English-speaking film, and it was a big success in Britain, earning a BAFTA award nomination for Best Screenplay in 1956.
39. Giving off Cinderella vibes
This picture of Bardot in a blue dress beneath stone steps might remind some of the fairytale princess Cinderella. The actress wasn’t made a servant girl during her youth, but she did live under a pretty strict regime. Her parents disapproved of her acting ambitions and apparently forbade her from picking her own friends.
38. Posing in a wedding veil
This picture isn’t from Bardot’s actual wedding, just a 1956 photoshoot: this outfit would have probably been considered a very risqué wedding dress at the time. But she was actually already married by then. She tied the knot with Roger Vadim, a man six years older than her, in 1952 when she was just 18.
37. Condemning a seal hunt
Bardot was and is a huge animal activist, and she especially wanted to protect seals. This picture shows her at the European Council in Strasbourg, France in 1978 condemning seal hunting: there was a lot of it going on at that time. Arguably the real MVP of this photograph is the cute fluffy seal toy in the foreground, though.
36. Frolicking in Cannes
Here’s Bardot running on the beach at Cannes; the French town has played host to an internationally renowned annual film festival since 1946. This shot was taken in 1956, when the prestigious event was still in its youth. The young actress looks like she’s having the time of her life, and she’s wearing a lovely dress to boot.
35. Meeting Picasso
During the ’50s Bardot met the legendary painter Pablo Picasso at his studio – and he measured her head. At this point the old artist had a reputation for being a notorious womanizer of younger ladies, yet seemingly he didn’t succumb to Bardot’s considerable charms. He never actually painted her picture, though.
34. Bathing in a lake
Here’s Brigitte Bardot, wearing a bikini that would probably be considered a little skimpy even by today’s standards, checking out her reflection in a mirror. Well, there was plenty to look at, after all. She’s standing in Lac Léman, which is the French name for the body of water we know as Lake Geneva.
33. Arriving at an airport
This 1966 photograph gives a sense of just how much fame Bardot achieved during her career. She’s arriving in London to film the movie Two Weeks in September, and there’s lots of people surrounding her and even a police officer. At this point Bardot had already announced her retirement from acting, but it didn’t stick.
32. In the film Les Pétroleuses
In 1971 Bardot appeared in the stylish spaghetti western flick Les Pétroleuses, renamed to The Legend of Frenchie King for English-speaking countries. She played a sexy outlaw alongside fellow bombshell Claudia Cardinale, and she got to show off some truly impressive and very form-hugging clothes, including a particularly sexy white corset.
31. Sat in an empty movie theater
In this shot from 1955 Bardot sits in a deserted movie theater. If this hadn’t been a photoshoot you can bet crowds would have been all around her, though. She was growing ever more famous throughout the ’50s, thanks in no small part to her husband Roger Vadim, who carefully cultivated her image.
30. Looking at the camera
Brigitte Bardot had lovely eyes, often highlighted by carefully applied makeup. But did you know, when she was a child she actually suffered from amblyopia or “lazy eye?” This impaired her vision and also lowered her self-esteem. She didn’t think she was attractive at all, although obviously this would change.
29. Posing seductively
It seemed no-one was immune to Bardot as she got more and more famous. The people who put together this 1958 photoshoot definitely seemed not to be. The official caption for the photo reads, “Brigitte owns the most celebrated and most exposed curves in the world… She is shown here posing seductively.”
28. With her newborn son
After divorcing Roger Vadim, Bardot fell for one of her co-stars, Jacques Charrier. She fell pregnant, but decided to marry him and keep the baby. Unfortunately, she had very few maternal instincts and the child, Nicholas, ended up living with his father. In her 1995 book Initiales B.B. she revealed she tried to abort the pregnancy.
27. In the film Contempt
In 1993 Bardot starred in the Jean-Luc Godard movie Contempt. The producers were determined that Bardot appeared in at least one nude scene, and that ended up being the film’s opening. Michel Piccoli’s character stares admiringly at the naked Bardot and compliments every piece of her body about which she’s insecure.
26. At the Gala De L’Union
Here Brigitte Bardot attends the 1970 Gala De L’Union in Paris, wearing an incredibly stylish white suit and matching top hat. It’s easy to see how she became a fashion icon. Next to her is Patrick Gilles, a man with whom she reportedly had an affair while still married to German multi-millionaire Gunter Sachs.
25. Strolling in Capri
This shot from 1963 shows Bardot barefoot and holding her shoes in the streets of Capri. Everyone’s looking at her, but she doesn’t seem too happy about it. One quote attributed to the actress is, “Now, if there was one woman in the world who didn’t need publicity, who always had too much publicity, it was me.”
24. Walking with Gunther Sachs
Bardot had four marriages in all and her third one was to German millionaire Guther Sachs. They married in 1966 and this photo was taken the following year. If Bardot doesn’t look happy, it’s because she wasn’t. The marriage lasted only three years and eventually Bardot would take extreme right-wing political adviser Bernard d’Ormale as her fourth husband.
23. Pictured as a brunette
Most people remember Brigitte Bardot as being a blonde bombshell type, but actually she had natural brown hair. She was asked to change it for the movie Mio figlio Nerone, and it stuck. Vadim also allegedly had a role in controlling her look and her hair color. Bardot was far from the first brunette to reach for the peroxide, though.
22. Filming A Very Private Affair
Come 1962 Bardot appeared in the movie A Very Private Affair, the storyline of which bore a resemblance to her own life. Critics were not impressed though. Newspaper The New York Times wrote of the actress, “She slops through the film in slacks and scanties, with her hair looking like a sheepdog’s head and an expression of petulance (or boredom) on what you can see of her puffy little face.”
21. On the cover of Picture Post magazine
In 1955 Bardot, still a brunette at this point, was featured on the front cover of Picture Post magazine. It wasn’t the first magazine in which she had appeared – she was an Elle cover star when she was just a teenager – and it certainly wouldn’t be the last. Her looks and sense of fashion meant everybody wanted her.
20. Gazing out from a Scottish beach
This picturesque shot is from 1966 when Brigitte Bardot went to Scotland to film the movie Two Weeks in September. Luckily, she was wearing sensible clothes on the cold Scottish beach – and had shoes on for once. Though Bardot definitely looked nice in the film, it wasn’t particularly well liked by critics.
19. Posed atop a piano
Here, Bardot does a ballet-like pose while balanced on top of a piano. In fact, Bardot did indeed train to be a ballerina. When she was young she embarked on the career and actually was very successful, even winning an award in 1948. But when she found modeling, movies and Roger Vadim, she abandoned the discipline.
18. Embracing Isabelle Corey
In this photograph Bardot poses with Isabelle Corey at Cannes in 1956; Bardot and Corey acted together in the movie And God Created Woman. Corey’s career started off in similar fashion to Bardot’s – modeling in France, then acting – but she never achieved the same massive stardom. And in 2011 she passed away.
17. Sunbathing in St Tropez
Bardot was always very fond of St Tropez, a beautiful town on the French Riviera. She lived there for a long time and helped make the place famous – her bikinis probably helped in that regard. A statue to her was even put there in 2017, though Bardot didn’t turn up for the unveiling.
16. Filming Two Weeks in September
While filming the movie Two Weeks in September in 1966 Bardot travelled to London to shoot scenes on the River Thames. Here’s a photograph taken during that time. You’ll notice how the person on the right seems to be looking very appreciatively indeed at Bardot – well, just about everyone did when around her.
15. In the movie Rum Runners
Bardot starred in the Robert Enrico film Rum Runners in 1971. It was set during the Prohibition era and Bardot played a silent film actress. And she also wore some quite astounding outfits. This photograph of her in the movie would probably have been quite NSFW back in the ’70s.
14. Posing in a bathtub
Bardot’s legs were arguably among her best features and here she shows one of them off in the movie Une Parisienne. Sure, she’s holding a sponge, but somehow you get the feeling having a wash isn’t her intention here. The tagline for the movie was even “a daring documentary on the natural beauties of Brigitte Bardot.”
13. Posing for photographers
This photo neatly sums up what life was like for Bardot in the ’50s: she lay on the grass and adoring men took her picture. Photographers still follow Bardot, but they’re not so adoring now. Bardot is frequently in trouble in her native France for displaying apparent racism and homophobia, and has been fined by the government five times.
12. Filming Babette Goes to War
In 1959 Badot began filming the movie Babette Goes to War, which did pretty much what it said on the tin. The original caption for the photo notes, “Even clad like a paratrooper, buxom Brigitte would be a fine inducement to join up.” It was on the set of that film that Badot met her second husband, Jacques Charrier.
11. On the set of Les Femmes
Bardot played a woman named Clara in the 1969 French film Les Femmes. It was a sex comedy and so unsurprisingly audiences got to see a lot of her. In some people’s view, rather too much. For the film to be released in Italy, scenes of Bardot’s nudity had to be cut out completely.
10. Posing with Sean Connery
Two giants of the silver screen appeared together in the 1968 movie Shalako. Brigitte Bardot acted opposite James Bond himself, Sean Connery. In 2013 photographer Terry O’Neill recollected to The Times newspaper, “They hit it off instantly. I had two of the best-looking people in the world at my disposal.”
9. Leaning on set
Bardot is showing off her legs here, but she also looks contemplative on the set of the movie A Very Private Affair. And well she might, and not for good reasons. The same year that photograph was taken, 1962, Bardot divorced Jacques Charrier and gave him full custody of their son.
8. Arm in arm with Christian Kalt
Brigitte Bardot had many boyfriends. After divorcing Gunter Sachs, her third husband, she was linked to a string of attractive young men. These reportedly included Laurent Vergez, Warren Beatty and ski instructor Christian Kalt. Kalt was seen with her in 1971 while she was filming The Legend of Frenchie King , with his shirt off, of course.
7. Visiting Scotland
Bardot wrapped herself up in sweaters and blankets during her visit to Scotland in 1966. The locals were apparently less than happy with her conduct while there however. Allegedly, Bardot refused to pay her hotel manager, telling him he’d already been paid via the publicity she’d brought to his establishment. Once she did finally hand over the money, she stormed out.
6. Filming the movie Viva Maria
Here, Bardot wears an extravagant costume in the film Viva Maria. The movie shoot was extremely chaotic, and not just because the cameras were following Bardot wherever she went. Rumors spread that Bardot didn’t get along with her co-star Jeanne Moreau, which in turn provoked genuine tension between the two women.
5. Pictured alongside her new husband
The relationship between Gunther Sachs and Brigitte Bardot started off pretty well. They met in St Tropez, and Sachs employed grand gestures in order to woo her. He dropped roses over her house using a helicopter and put on a massive fireworks display. She fell for him, but it wasn’t to last. By 1969 they were divorced.
4. On the set of Come Dance With Me
Bardot is pouty in this photograph for the 1960 detective movie Voulez Vous Danser Avec Moi?, or Come Dance With Me? But she didn’t win over The New York Times, who called it “a shoddy piece of mystery writing that calls for its shapely star to be more seductive than deductive – and, believe us, that isn’t much.”
3. Hugging her sister
Brigitte Bardot had one sister, Marie-Jeanne or “Mijanou.” The two girls grew up together in what might today be called an abusive household: they were allegedly both lashed after breaking one of the family’s vases. Mijanou briefly tried to embark on a film career herself, but it didn’t work out. Her sister supported her financially, though.
2. Filming The Bear and the Doll
In 1969 Bardot appeared in Michel Deville’s drama-comedy The Bear and the Doll opposite Jean- Pierre Cassel. Bardot’s hair is hidden underneath a cap here but she’s still obviously a natural beauty. Later on the actress would name the film as one of her favorites, and Deville as one of the best directors.
1. Fainting after a scene
This very striking image from 1971 shows Bardot being carried away after fainting during a movie scene. At this point in her career the actress was exhausted by fame and had actually attempted suicide in 1960. Her film appearances became more and more sporadic until finally she retired in 1973, at the age of 39.