Jane Birkin, Franco-British actress and singer, dies at 76

Jane Birkin, the beloved Franco-British actress and singer who spent most of her life in France and is known for a tumultuous relationship with French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, died at her home on Sunday in Paris, according to the newspaper Le Parisien. She was 76 years old.

No cause of death has yet been confirmed.

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Birkin was best known worldwide for her steamy 1969 duet “Je t’aime… moi non plus” which she sang with Gainsbourg, a year after meeting him on the set of Pierre Grimblat’s “Slogan”. Although she didn’t break through at the time, she had a small but memorable role in Michelangelo Antonioni’s sultry 1966 film “Blow Up.”

Together, Birkin and Gainsbourg had a daughter, actress and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg (“Melancholia”, “Nymphomaniac”). After splitting up in 1980, the duo remained close and continued their artistic collaboration. Birkin participated creatively in three Gainsbourg albums, “Baby Alone in Babylon” in 1983, “Lost Song” in 1987 and “Amours des feintes” in 1990. Birkin also released several solo albums, including “Di Doo Dah” , “Ex fan des sixties” and “Lolita Go Home”, and collaborated with other popular musicians like Etienne Daho.

Birkin had two other daughters, musician Lou Doillon with French director Jacques Doillon, and Kate Barry, the late photographer, whom she had with her first husband, James Bond composer John Barry.

Charlotte Gainsbourg Jane Birkin

Charlotte Gainsbourg Jane Birkin

Arriving in France in the 1960s, Birkin became a fashion icon in the 1970s by importing an effortlessly chic style from “Swinging London”. She even inspired the French luxury brand Hermès to create the Birkin bag.

One of her best-known films is “La Piscine” by Jacques Deray, in which she co-starred with Alain Delon and Romy Schneider. She obtained three César nominations, including for “La Pirate”, directed by Jacques Doillon. She made her directorial debut with “Boxes” which played at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.

Birkin was portrayed by her daughter Charlotte in the feature documentary “Jane by Charlotte” in 2021. The critically acclaimed intimate documentary played at Cannes and was nominated for a César.

Birkin, who was loved for her optimism and unassuming charm, suffered a stroke in 2021 and recently broke her shoulder blade, which led her to cancel several concerts in March. Earlier this year, Birkin took part in the televised charity concert organized by “Les enfoirés”. Just three months ago, in May, Birkin canceled a new series of concerts taking place at the Olympia and La Cigale theaters in Paris and released a statement saying that while she had “always been a great optimist”, she realized that she “needed a little more time to be able to be on stage. Birkin was also struck by the tragic death of her eldest daughter, Kate Barry, in an apparent suicide 10 years ago. She evoked Kate in her last album “Oh! Forgive you were sleeping…”

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