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Jane Birkin Actress, Singer and Former 1960s Wildchild Dies in France

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Actress, Singer Jane Birkin, a Former 960s Wildchild Dies in France

Jane Birkin, an actress and singer and 1960s wild-child who became a popular figure in France, died in Paris at the age of 76. The French Culture Ministry described her as a “timeless Francophone icon” who had passed away.

According to family members, she was discovered deceased at her house. Birkin suffered a small stroke in 2021 after previously suffering from heart troubles.

Birkin was best known in the rest of the world for her 1969 hit, “Je t’aime…moi non plus,” in which she and her then-lover, the late French singer and songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, sang the sexually explicit “Je t’aime…moi non plus.”

Jane Birkin

She had resided in her adopted France since the late 1960s, and aside from her singing and parts in dozens of films, she was a beloved figure for her friendly demeanour and steadfast struggle for women’s and LGBT rights.

The “most Parisian of the English has left us,” declared Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo. “We will never forget her songs, her laughs, and her incomparable accent, which always accompanied us.”

Jane Mallory Birkin was born in London in December 1946, the daughter of British actress Judy Campbell and Royal Navy officer David Birkin.

She made her stage debut at the age of 17 and went on to star in the 1965 musical “Passion Flower Hotel” by conductor and composer John Barry, whom she married shortly after. The marriage ended in the late 1960s.

Actress, Singer Jane Birkin, a Former 1960s Wildchild Dies in France

Before crossing the Channel at the age of 22, Jane Birkin gained renown in Michelangelo Antonioni’s controversial 1966 film “Blow-Up,” when she appeared naked in a threesome sex scene.

[1/8]On July 16, 2023, a visitor snaps a photograph beside the house turned museum where late actor and singer Jane Birkin lived with musician Serge Gainsbourg in Paris, France. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

But it was in France that she rose to prominence, as much for her love affair with troubled national hero Gainsbourg as for her tomboyish attitude and appealing British accent while speaking French, which some claimed she purposely developed.

Following the end of that relationship in 1981, she resumed her career as a singer and actress, performing on stage and releasing albums such as “Baby Alone in Babylone” in 1983 and “Amour des Feintes” in 1990, both with text and music by Gainsbourg.

In 2002, she published her debut album “Arabesque,” and in 2009, she released “Jane at the Palace,” a collection of live recordings.

“It’s unimaginable to live in a world without you,” said French singer Etienne Daho, who produced and composed Birkin’s final album, due out in 2020.

Jane Birkin, Slogan

On the set of the film “Slogan” in 1969, Birkin met Gainsbourg, who was recovering from a break-up with Brigitte Bardot, and the two swiftly began a love affair that enthralled the nation.

That same year, they published “Je T’Aime… Moi Non Plus,” a song about sexual love originally composed for Bardot in which Gainsbourg’s explicit lyrics are punctuated by breathy moans and cries from Birkin.

The BBC banned the song and the Vatican condemned it.

Gainsbourg’s drinking eventually got the best of them, and Birkin left him in 1981 to live with film director Jacques Doillon. She remained close to the troubled singer until his death in March 1991.

Around this time, she inspired the renowned Birkin bag by French luxury brand Hermes, after chief executive Jean-Louis Dumas watched her struggle with her straw bag on a flight to London, spilling the contents all over the floor.

She is survived by two daughters, singer and actress Charlotte, born in 1971, and Lou Doillon, born in 1982. She also had a daughter, Kate, who was born in 1967 and died in 2013.

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