SAINT-TROPEZ, France (AFP) – French screen siren Brigitte Bardot celebrated her 80th birthday in private on Sunday at her French Riviera home, shunning the spotlight and turning attention back to her beloved animal rights work.
For her birthday, the ageing sex symbol “didn’t want anything at all”, journalist and writer Henry-Jean Servat, a close friend, told AFP.
Rather than gifts, the ex-movie star turned animal rights defender went on Europe 1 radio and asked her fans “to go to the nearest animal shelter and adopt a little cat or dog, or sponsor it” and also “to eat less meat”.
Still, outside her house in Saint Tropez, admirers left some 250 bouquets of flowers, according to Servat.
Inside, Bardot spent her low-key birthday with some members of her animal rights foundation, a few friends and her husband Bernard d’Ormale.
The foundation gave her as a birthday present a special edition of the magazine she edits with best wishes from celebrities and from animal rights associations she has helped.
“The foundation is my life,” she said in a recent interview with AFP.
French designer Karl Lagerfeld understood that and on Sunday sent her a “monumental” basket of orchids along with an “extremely big” donation to the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, the organisation said.
“You are wonderful! You are mad! An avalanche of flowers this morning, an avalanche of happiness. I love you,” Bardot tweeted about Lagerfeld’s birthday gift.
The woman who left men weak in the knees in the 1950s and 60s did make a very brief public appearance on Friday for photos at the port of Saint Tropez before the “Brigitte Bardot”. That’s the trimaran of the Sea Shepherd environmental group which had been on a mission against the killing of dolphins off the Faroe islands.
“When she goes out in her 4L (a classic Renault car) with her dogs, everyone recognises her and people run behind the car,” said one of her friends.
It was 1956 when Bardot set the screen alight in “And God Created Woman”, shot by her then husband Roger Vadim. It was the best-known of the 50-odd movies – many of them flops – of her short career.
“She was monstrously famous, and the myth only grew bigger since she ended her career before she was even 40,” said Marie-Dominique Lelievre, author of a recent biography on “BB”, as Bardot became known.
With age, Bardot has lurched to the far-right, increasingly prone to illiberal remarks on gays, Muslims and immigrants that have led to five convictions for inciting racial hatred.
And now the octogenarian sex icon with her ardent animal rights activism says she has no intention of retiring.
“You haven’t heard the last of me,” she told AFP.
“And when I am no longer there, my foundation will continue, I made sure that lasts for a thousand years.”