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.

Though born in London, Birkin would rise to fame singing in French, and her duet with Gainsbough on the sexually explicit song “Je t’aime… moi non plus” (which was banned in several countries and condemned by the Vatican) made her a family name worldwide.

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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 infamous fights once saw her throw herself into the Seine after throwing a custard pie in Gainsbourgh’s face — would have a daughter, actress, singer and director Charlotte Gainsbourg (who debuted in 2021 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 said. on CNN in 2006.

Birkin’s film debut was Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1966 classic Jump, a small role known for a full frontal 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 Girl of the 70s. In 1984, Hermes named her bag Birkin—still a highly sought-after accessory four decades later—after her.

Alongside Charlotte, Birkin fathered a daughter, Kate Barry, with James Bond composer John Barry, whom she married at age 17 (a marriage that lasted just three years). Kate 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.