Jane Birkin, British actress, singer and French icon, dies at 76

British actress, pop singer, and French icon Jane Birkin passed away at age 76.

Biographical snapshot: Birkin, known for epitomizing the effortless French-chic style, was an international star based in France. She was born in London and adopted France as her home country.
* Her fame grew through a musical and romantic partnership with French singer Serge Gainsbourg.
* She also held acting credits including minor roles in the 1966 crime rom-com ‘Kaleidoscope’ and the 1978 adaptation of Agatha Christie’s ‘Death on the Nile’.
* Birkin was married to James Bond film score composer John Barry from 1965 to 1968, and had a daughter, Kate Barry, who died in 2013.

Music and fashion legacy: She is recognized for her collaboration with Gainsbourg in the hit “Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus” which gained plenty of attention for its sexual innuendos and heavy breathiness.
* The song was banned from radio play in several countries and condemned by the Vatican — only increasing its popularity.
* Birkin is also famous for the luxury Hermès “Birkin” handbag, created for her in 1984 by Hermès CEO Jean-Louis Dumas.
* The idea of the bag was born out of her difficulty in finding the perfect-sized weekend bag and it was first sketched out on the plane’s “vomit bag”.

Activism and charity work: Birkin, known for her activism, asked Hermès to remove her name from the popular crocodile-skin version of the Birkin bag in 2015 due to concerns about animal cruelty.
* She’s auctioned off her bags over the years for various charitable causes.
* Birkin had an arrangement with the designer to donate a portion of Hermès bag sales directly to charity, even after her death.

Health and final days: Birkin passed away at her home in Paris and had suffered a mild stroke in 2021.
* She had recently called off concerts due to health issues.
* She is survived by two daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon.

Public response: Tributes have poured in, celebrating Birkin as a French icon and “the most French of Britons”.
* French President Emmanuel Macron wrote that Birkin “bequeathed tunes and images that would never leave us.”
* Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted about the unforgettable “songs, laughter, and her incomparable accent.”

View original article on NPR

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