Iconic Anglo-French singer and actor Jane Birkin dies at 76

Esteemed actor and singer Jane Birkin, known for her sensual 1969 hit “Je t’aime … moi non plus,” passed away at 76, as confirmed by the French culture ministry on July 16, 2023. Birkin, renowned for her multifaceted career in both music and cinema, had been facing health issues, including a stroke in September 2021 and a broken shoulder in March 2022. Her death was reported in her home in Paris.

Born on December 14, 1946, in London to an actor mother and a naval officer father, Birkin moved to France at the age of 22 after her breakout role in the 1966 film “Blow-Up”. In France, she starred in the film “Slogan” with Serge Gainsbourg, who was 18 years her senior, starting a 13-year relationship that placed them in the limelight for their hedonistic lifestyle as much as for their artistic collaborations.

Their controversial 1968 hit “Je t’aime … moi non plus” met with both condemnation and commercial success. Their intense relationship was often described as tumultuous, involving high-profile spats. Nonetheless, Birkin maintained a strong defense of Gainsbourg, even posthumously.

Throughout her life, Birkin was celebrated for her acting prowess, receiving three nominations at the Césars, France’s equivalent of the Oscars. She was directed by renowned directors such as Bertrand Tavernier, Agnès Varda, and James Ivory in her about 70 films.

Beyond her artistic contributions, Birkin’s legacy also includes being the inspiration behind the luxury Hermès Birkin handbag. Birkin received an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2001 for her contributions to acting and British-French cultural relations.

Survived by her daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg, an acclaimed actor and singer, and Lou Doillon, a singer, from her relationships with Serge Gainsbourg and Jacques Doillon respectively, Birkin’s death is a loss to the cultural world. French culture minister, Roselyne Bachelot, expressed her sorrow at Birkin’s passing, remarking, “She was a beautiful person.”

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