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17 July 2023

Jane Birkin, Singer And Actress, Dies Aged 76

Jane Birkin
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Jane Birkin, the singer, actress and style icon, has died aged 76. A cause of death has not yet been announced. Upon the news of Birkin’s death, France’s Culture Ministry referred to her as a “timeless Francophone icon.” Birkin was 76.

Birkin was born in London on 14 December 1946. She landed minor acting parts beginning in the mid-1960s before landing biggeer roles in era-defining counter-culture films Blow-up, Kaleidoscope, and Wonderwall.

In 1968, Birkin co-starred with French singer Serge Gainsbourg in Slogan, which led to the pair singing the film’s theme together and the start of their relationship. Their 1969 single Je t’aime moi non plus — the opener of that year’s album Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg — became a massive hit single, not least thanks to the controversy caused by its overtly (for the time) sexual lyrics. The pair remained a couple for more than a decade, with Birkin appearing on the cover and singing on Gainsbourg’s classic 1971 album Histoire de Melody Nelson. Birkin also starred in Je t’aime moi non plus, Gainsbourg’s debut film.

Gainsbourg and Birkin had a daughter, Charlotte Gainsbourg, in 1971; they never married and separated in 1980. As a teenager, Birkin had been married to James Bond composer John Barry, and had a daughter named Kate with him in 1967 before their divorce the following year. In 1982, Birkin and her then partner, French filmmaker Jacques Doillon, welcomed their daughter—singer and actress Lou Doillon.

In addition to her acting career, Birkin continued her music pursuits beyond her relationship with Gainsbourg. She maintained her involvement in art throughout her life, including roles in Death on the Nile, Dark Places, and Evil Under the Sun. Her recording career continued well into the 2000s, a run that included more than 15 solo albums, in addition to a 2017 collection of songs by Serge Gainsbourg rewritten with orchestral arrangements. Her final album was 2020’s Oh! Pardon tu dormais….

Birkin was treated for leukaemia in the late 1990s and it was reported in September 2021 that she had suffered a stroke, forcing her to cancel a planned appearance at an American film festival.

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