French media reports Franco-British actress and singer Jane Birkin has died aged 76 at her home in Paris.
A naturalised French citizen, Birkin moved to France in the late 1960s and was probably best known internationally for her relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg. She was also fond of Morocco and performed here with a four piece band in 2003 with a number of songs from an album called “Arabesque”.
Born in London on 14 December 1946, she was the daughter of David Birkin, a leading French Resistance fighter who died on the day of Serge’s funeral, and Judy Campbell, a well-known actress. She first came to public attention in Michelangelo Antonioni’s film Blow Up, where her nudity caused a scandal.
She was under 20-years-old when she married English composer John Barry, 13 years her senior who was probably most known for his remarkable James Bond soundtracks. The couple had a daughter, Kate. He left her and she decided to try her luck in Paris. In 1968, on the set of Pierre Grimblat’s film Slogan, she met Gainsbourg.
Together they were an iconic couple, who found fame with the unforgettable duet “Je t’aime… moi non plus” in 1969.
In 1980, she left “Gainsbarre”, drowning in alcohol, sometimes violent. “She threw me out,” he told the magazine Les Inrocks in 1987, “and it served me right for breaking her face”.
She later became the girlfriend of film director Jacques Doillon for 13 years, and had a daughter with him, Lou.
Courted by brands, including Hermès who created the Birkin bag, the artist was also committed to humanitarian and ecological causes.
Long after Gainsbourg’s death in 1991, and despite trials such as the death of her daughter Kate in 2013 and a long recovery from leukaemia, she continued to sing the work of the man with whom she had formed a legendary couple in the 1970s.