Jane Birkin (with her famous wicker basket in hand) and Serge Gainsbourg, 1969.
According to Jane Birkin’s brother Andrew, Serge Gainsbourg was the love of her life. When he passed away in 1991 at the age of 62 from a heart attack (likely brought on by his epic chain-smoking and equally epic consumption of booze), Birkin, though she and Gainsbourg had long since separated, was devastated and she and her daughter Charlotte Gainsbourg mourned his death by staying with Serge’s body for three days. When Gainsbourg was finally laid to rest, Birkin placed her “Munckey” a toy monkey that she kept since childhood, in her former lover’s coffin.
The pair met on the set of the 1968 French film L’amour et l’amour (aka Slogan) and at first, Birkin was just not that into Gainsbourg and referred to her co-star as “horrible,” “arrogant,” and “snobbish.” Andrew Birkin also recalled that his sister was so turned-off by Serge that she had difficulty pronouncing his last name and would mangle it by calling him “Serge Bourguigon.” Birkin’s distaste for Serge would not last, however, and the two would become one of the most celebrated celebrity couples in France during the decade or so that they were together. As you might imagine, there are many mythical stories concerning the exploits of Gainsbourg and Birkin—many which have the lovebirds battling it out in public spats. One of the more infamous tales involves Birkin hurling a custard tart in Serge’s face after she discovered him digging through her wicker handbag. The skirmish continued with Birkin chasing Gainsbourg down the Boulevard Saint-Germain screaming before she jumped into Seine river. In 2013 Birkin’s brother Andrew published Jane & Serge: A Family Album, a beautiful book containing photos Andrew took of the couple during their time together, some of which have never been previously published. The book also contains Andrew’s intimate insights into Jane’s childhood and her deep connection to Serge.
I’ve posted numerous images of Birkin and Gainsbourg below looking happy and in love. Some are slightly NSFW.
The Scopitone for “Je t’aime… moi non plus.” The song which caused quite the scandal in 1969. Gainsbourg has originally written the number as a duet for himself and Brigitte Bardot. Bardot recorded the vocals for the song, but when the rumor of their affair hit the news, her husband Sachs went ballistic leading Bardot to convince Gainsbourg to not release it as a single. After Birkin and Gainsbourg hooked up, Birkin, who was wildly jealous, offered to record the song for Gainsbourg so that “nobody else could sing it.” Awww.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Serge Gainsbourg’s science-fiction cartoon ‘Marie Mathématique’
The worst/best cover version of Serge Gainsbourg’s infamous ‘Je t’aime…’ that you’ll ever hear
‘Jane Birkin: The Mother of all Babes’
‘Sex-Power’: Rarely seen French film about the Sixties with Jane Birkin