The archetypal sex kitten, Brigitte Bardot was the first foreign-language star ever to attain a level of international success comparable to America's most popular homegrown talents. While the vast majority of her motion pictures failed to rank even remotely close to the best of her native France's prodigious New Wave-era output, they proved a major breakthrough in establishing a market for foreign films in English-speaking countries; indeed, for all of the acclaim deservedly heaped on the more gifted actors and directors of her day, perhaps no other factor was more crucial to the far-reaching success of world cinema than Bardot's sultry allure.
Born on September 28, 1934, in Paris, she was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist; while studying ballet, she was approached with the offer to begin modeling, and by 1950 her image had already graced the cover of Elle magazine. There she was spotted by director Marc Allegret, who had earlier discovered the young Simone Simon. Soon Allegret's assistant, Roger Vadim, contacted Bardot for a role in the picture Les Lauriers Sont Coupes. While Allegret did not cast the young model in his film, Vadim became immediately smitten by her pouty sensuality, and in 1952 he became her husband. That same year, Bardot made her film debut in Jean Boyer's comedy Le Trou Normand; a series of bit roles followed before she appeared in Warner Bros.' 1955 production of Helen of Troy. The studio was sufficiently impressed to offer a seven-year contract, but she refused, to accept her largest role to date opposite Jean Marais and Isabelle Pia in Futures Vedettes.