See '70s Icon Jane Birkin Now at 75
She threw in the towel on acting but is still active as a musician.
There's no doubt that Jane Birkin has made her mark on pop culture. The English singer and actor came to fame the late '60s, often working with her creative and romantic partner Serge Gainsbourg on French music and films—both of which were sometimes quite controversial. The two became an "it couple," and Birkin's influence lives on today. She's still referenced for her style and was the inspiration for the sought-after Hermès Birkin handbag.
But while Birkin is highly associated with the '70s, the 75-year-old has continued to act and make music in the decades since then. In fact, she put out her latest album in 2020. Read on to learn more about Birkin's life and career today.
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She's still performing music.
Birkin released her latest album, Oh! Pardon tu dormais…, in December 2020. She gave performances in support of it, which can be seen in clips she shared on Instagram, and she is currently on tour. Some of her other recent performances that made headlines include singing at a Gucci fashion show in 2018 and duetting with Iggy Pop on The Tonight Show in 2020.
She stopped acting a few years ago.
Birkin's acting career spans six decades and includes the movies Blow-Up, Slogan, Death on the Nile, and Evil Under the Sun. Her final role was in the 2016 short La femme et le TGV, which was nominated for the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film. "This will be my last one! Unless they make a film about a 70-year-old explorer, an adventure film. I'd always wanted to do a sort of African Queen," she told IndieWire in 2017.
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She's faced health issues.
Birkin was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002. As reported by The Washington Post, the leukemia went into remission but has caused her some other health problems.
In September 2021, it was reported that she had another scare. According to the BBC, her family shared with Agence France-Presse that she "suffered a minor form of stroke a few days" prior and was "doing well."
She's a mother and grandmother.
Gainsbourg is the mother of three daughters: photographer Kate Barry with her former husband John Barry; actor and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg with Gainsbourg; and singer Lou Doillon with director Jacques Doillon. Birkin has grandchildren through all three of her daughters.
Sadly, Kate died in 2013 at age 46. Birkin expresses her grief over the loss of her child on her latest album. "The only way, really, of getting over [grief] is to make it into something else," she told The Washington Post. "You're lucky if you're a writer or a director or if you're an actress because you can make it into something else."
She published her diaries.
Birkin's memoir, Munkey Diaries: 1957-1982, was published in 2018, and a sequel, Post-scriptum: Journal, 1982-2013, came out in 2020. With the books, Birkin published personal journals, which started when she was 11 and include entries addressed to a stuffed animal called Munkey.
"Neither of them read them," she told The Guardian of whether her daughters read her diaries. "Lou said in a rather frank interview she gave: 'Who'd want to read their mother's diary?' That said it all. Put me in my place."
She's the subject of a documentary.
Birkin's daughter Charlotte made her directorial debut in 2021 with a documentary about her mother titled Jane by Charlotte. "In France, a lot of the footage that happened in the '70s, where my parents are together, everybody has seen," Charlotte told The Hollywood Reporter. "Everybody has an image of her in those years. I didn't want to have these beautiful but stereotyped images of her. I wanted her today. I didn't care about what people knew of her or what they wanted to see of her. It was done in a very, very selfish way for my own pleasure."
She think it's a coincidence that she became a fashion icon.
Even though Birkin is English, she's become an icon of French style. She says that it had to do with timing.
"It was our time, and it was England's time really, so me getting over to France before anyone else did give me perhaps a bit of a head start so that people thought it was original whereas everyone back in England was doing the same thing," she told Vogue in 2021. "I just looked like everybody else wanting to look like Jean Shrimpton, really. That's exactly who I wanted to look like. So it's funny to see people pick you out as if you'd been a sort of fashion leader."