Jane Birkin, actress and singer, dies at 76

Jane Birkin, actress and singer, dies at 76

Jane Birkin, the singer and actress who rose to fame in the late 1960s as the mistress of French bad boy Serge Gainsbourg and became a beloved figure in her adopted France, has died. She was 76 years old.

France’s culture minister announced the news on Sunday following reports in The Parisian newspaper and BFM television which said that Birkin had been found dead at her home in Paris. She had suffered a minor stroke in 2021.

Although born in London, Birkin reportedly found fame singing in French. Her duet with Gainsbourg in the sexually explicit song “Je t’aime…moi non plus” (which was banned in several countries and condemned by the Vatican) brought her worldwide fame.

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The song was recorded in 1968, a few months after the couple – Birkin then 22 and Gainsbourg 40 – first met on the set of the film Slogan, forging a turbulent relationship that would last 13 years and see them become France’s most famous couple. The two — whose notorious fights once saw her throw herself into the Seine after throwing a custard pie in Gainsbourg’s face — would have a daughter, actress, singer and director Charlotte Gainsbourg (who made her 2021 debut with the his documentary about his mother, Charlotte’s Janein Cannes).

“He and I became the most famous couple in that weird way because of ‘Je t’aime’ and because we were together for 13 years, and he continued to be my best friend until the day he died.” , Birkin told CNN in 2006.

Birkin’s film debut was Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 classic Jump, where he had a small role known for a front scene. Other credits include the 1972 adaptation of Death on the Nile and 1982 Evil under the sun. Later moving into more arthouse productions, he earned three Cesar nominations, starting in the 1985s The pirate.

Thanks to her style, Birkin became one of the main fashion icons and It-girls of the 70s. In 1984, Hermes named her bag Birkin—still a highly sought-after accessory four decades later—after her.

Alongside Charlotte, Birkin had a daughter, Kate Barry, with the James Bond composer John Barry, whom she married at age 17 (a marriage that lasted just three years). Barry tragically died in 2013 of an apparent suicide. Birkin also had another daughter, singer Lou Doillon, from a relationship with French director Jacques Dillon.