Actor and singer Jane Birkin, who charmed France with her English grace, natural style and accented French, has died at the age of 76.
The London-born star and fashion icon was known for her musical and romantic relationship with French singer Serge Gainsbourg. Their songs, in particular, included the rousing “Je t’aime moi non plus” (“I Love You, Me Neither”), which intertwined Birkin’s ethereal British accent with a surly baritone.
Birkin’s look of the 1960s and early 1970s, long hair with bangs, jeans paired with white tops, knitted mini dresses and basket bags, is still the pinnacle of French chic for many women around the world. It symbolizes
Birkin was also admired for his political activism in France. In 2022, she joined other French film and music stars in cutting off her hair in support of Iranian protesters. Birkin and Gainsbourg’s daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, an actor herself, cut off a lock of her mother’s hair for her “HairForFreedom” campaign as Iran was embroiled in anti-government protests.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed Birkin as a “perfect artist”.
“Jane Birkin was a symbol of France, for she was the personification of freedom and sang the most beautiful words of our language.” he tweeted.
French media reported that Birkin was found dead in his Paris home. The French Ministry of Culture tweeted that Birkin died on Sunday. The magazine hailed her as “her timeless French-speaking icon”.
Birkin’s early film work included 1966’s ‘Blow-Up’, which is credited with helping introduce French audiences to the style and beauty of her ‘Swinging Sixties’.
Birkin and Gainsbourg met two years later. She remained his muse even after the couple separated in 1980.
She also had a daughter, Kate, with James Bond composer John Barry. Kate Barry died in 2013 at the age of 46. She had a third daughter, singer and model Lou Doillon, in Birkin with French film director Jacques Doillon.
France’s Le Figaro reported that Birkin has been plagued with health problems in recent years that have prevented him from acting and making fewer public appearances.
According to BFM TV, Birkin suffered a minor stroke in 2021 and was forced to cancel shows for that year. She canceled the show again in March due to her broken shoulder blade.
French broadcasters said the singer said he needed more time and promised fans that he would meet again in the fall, with a return to performing in May postponed.