Iconic Actress and Singer, Jane Birkin, Dead at 76 Years Old

The entertainment industry is mourning the loss of an icon. Jane Birkin, who rose to prominence in the 1960s and enjoyed a prolific career with her singing and acting, died on Sunday (July 16) after years of health issues and complications. She was 76 years old and living in Paris at the time of her death. 

Her death was confirmed by the French Ministry of Culture, which described the late actress and singer as a timeless French-speaking icon – citing her collaborations with Serge Gainsbourg, Etienne Daho, and Agnès Varda. And while she was an icon in French culture, her impact was felt all around the world. 

According to ABC News, Birkin died at her home in Paris – though an official cause of death has yet to be released. She has suffered numerous health problems in the past few years, including a mild stroke in September 2021 and a broken shoulder blade in March 2023 – both of which kept her from performing. 

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Jane Birkin was born in London in 1946 and lived there throughout her teenage years. She met John Barry in 1963 and the two got married in 1965 – they shared one child together, a daughter (Kate) who was born in 1967. The couple got divorced in 1968 when Barry decided to move to the United States. 

That same year, she earned a role in the French film Slogan (1969), where she began a professional and intimate relationship with Serge Gainsbourg. That partnership resulted in her moving to France and finding a lifelong home in Paris – she has lived there ever since and is synonymous with their culture. 

In 1969, Gainsbourg and Birkin released their duet ‘Je t’aime… moi non plus,’ which further put the duo on the map. Two years later, they welcomed their first and only child – a daughter named Charlotte. They remained together for 12 years, but eventually separated due to Gainsbourg’s alcoholism and violence. 

In 1980, she began a relationship with Jacques Doillon and the couple welcomed their first and only child – a daughter named Lou Doillion – in 1982. She credited her relationship with Jacques as a major turning point in her private and personal life. They remained together for 11 years before separating in 1991. 

Jane Birkin Inspired the Birkin Bag by Hermès

In 1983, Jane Birkin was on a plane traveling from Paris to London when she was seated next to Jean-Louis Dumas – a chief executive for iconic fashion brand Hermès. While on the flight, her bag fell and the contents scattered across the floor – she saw this as an opportunity to pitch one of her ideas. 

One year later, her idea was born and she gave Hermès the right to market the new bag design with her name – a bag we’ve come to know as the Birkin bag. With a price range of $10,000 to $500,000, the bag is a fashion statement for anyone willing to fork over that type of cash for such an iconic and stylish bag.

Over the course of her career – which spanned seven decades between 1965 and 2021 – Jane Birkin appeared in dozens of films (most of which in French cinema) and recorded more than a dozen studio albums (including half a dozen live albums). Her last album was in 2020 and last film was in 2021. 

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Some of her most popular films include Death on the Nile (1978), La Piscine (1969), Blow-Up (1966), The Beautiful Troublemaker (1991), and Evil Under the Sun (1982). She was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2001 and the French Ordre National du Mérite in 2004 and 2015. May she rest in peace.

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