The legendary British actress, Jane Birkin, was married only once and had three children. However, all her kids were not from the same man as she had relationships with John Barry, Serge Gainsbourg, and Jacques Doillon and had three daughters with them, respectively.
British actress Jane Birkin is best known for movies such as “The Swimming Pool,” “Evil Under the Sun,” and 1978’s “Death on the Nile.” She passed on July 16, 2023, in Paris, France, at 76.
But her name is famous worldwide for being the inspiration and collaborating in the design of Hermès “Birkin Bag,” one of the brand’s most exclusive and expensive products. Still, most people don’t know her legacy and romance history.
Charlotte Gainsbourg with her mother Jane Birkin, Jacques Doillon and his daughter Lola attend the party following the premiere of the film “Nestor Burma Detective De Choc.” | Source: Getty Images
Jane Birkin’s Parents: A War Hero and an Actress
Her parents were David Birkin and Judy Campbell. David was born in 1914 to a WWI veteran father who became a businessman in Nottingham. He was hospitalized often as a child for lung diseases and underwent several surgeries by 1939.
Still, he became a telegraphist in WWII and eventually got into the Navy’s Wireless School in 1941, which is ironic considering his terrible seasickness. Despite that, he served bravely, and Jane grew up admiring him:
“I never saw fear in him as a child. He was very calm. Perhaps he learnt that because he had to be brave when people were counting on him. And if you’re frightfully seasick, as he was, you have to dominate yourself to such a great degree.”
English actress Jane Birkin enjoys a sun-soaked holiday on the Cote d’Azur, 16th July 1973. | Source: Getty Images
Jane didn’t have a close relationship with her mother. Judy was not the kind of person to care for babies, changing diapers, or breastfeeding. Instead, Jane was raised by nannies. Neither of her parents were warm people, but she never minded much.
Unfortunately, David was always jealous of his wife’s fame and beauty, and things only got worse when Jane started her career in movies. He supported her, but her mother was not so happy about it. She said:
“Mother was very stoic about it. She said she wouldn’t put herself between me and the sun. My relationship with her finally blossomed in the decade after he died. It was a treasured time.”
Archives of Jane Birkin in Paris, France in August, 1991. | Source: Getty Images
Jane Birkin’s Husband and Her Partners
Connoisseurs associate Jane with Serge Gainsbourg, but she was first married to composer John Barry. Their relationship lasted between 1965 and 1968, and they welcomed one daughter, Kate Barry, in April 1967.
At the time, John made music for several James Bond films and composed the original theme for “Dr. No.” At 17, she and John made a musical called “Passion Flower Hotel” using songs like “I Must I Must I Must Increase My Bust.” Jane said:
“I was the figure of fun in the musical and they used my flat chest and bandy legs as the fun image. I did have a little song, but it wasn’t until “Je T’aime… Moi Non Plus” that somebody thought I had a pretty voice.”
18-year-old Jane Birkin, currently starring in the lead role of ‘Passion Flower Hotel’ marries in secret at Chelsea Registry Office London to John Barry, aged 30, 16th October 1965. | Source: Getty Images
When they divorced, she started dating singer and director Serge. They were together for 12 years but never walked down the aisle. In 1971, they had Charlotte Gainsbourg. Their separation in 1971 was infamous due to claims of violence and alcoholism.
Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg in France on July 28th, 1977. | Source: Getty Images
Jane Birkin’s Daughters: Kate Barry, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Lou Doillon
Her first daughter, Kate, became a photographer. Sadly, she passed in 2013, only two years after her father died. She had fallen from her fourth-floor apartment. Although Kate didn’t gain the same fame as her younger sisters, she was known for her fashion photography in France, where Jane raised them all.
According to Jane, Kate had a Polaroid camera from a young age and would take pictures constantly. In her memoir, the actress recalled how troubled her first daughter was in school, as she would go to late parties in Paris and use drugs.
English actress and singer Jane Birkin with 7-month-old Kate Barry, her daughter by composer John Barry, 9th November 1967. | Source: Getty Images
At one point, Kate borrowed a Yves Saint Laurent jacket from her closet, but Jane thought it had been stolen. Her second daughter, Charlotte, followed in her footsteps, becoming a renowned French actress who starred in “Nymphomaniac,” “I Do,” “Antichrist,” “Melancholia,” and more.
But just like her mother, Charlotte is also a recording artist who collaborated with Jarvis Cocker and Nigel Godrich. Jane’s third daughter, Lou Doillon, was also a rebel in her adolescence and began her acting career early in “Kung-Fu Master!” in 1988.
French actress Lou Doillon with her mother, British actress and singer Jane Birkin, on the set of the film Les Cent et Une Nuits de Simon Cinema. | Source: Getty Images
She was later in Jacques’ film “Trop (peu) D’amour,” and later in “Mauvaises Fréquentations.” Lou has modeled and is a star in the French movie industry. When asked if she had encouraged her children to pursue acting, Jane said she had:
“Very much so, because I must’ve left Serge when Charlotte [Gainsbourg] was about twelve, and Jacques Doillon and I were looking for a kid to play in ‘The Pirate.’ I could see that Charlotte was interested.”
Charlotte was always the most eager to be like her mother. According to Jane, her girl once said she wanted to be “an actress like my mother and a drunk like my father.” The actress often took her girls to film sets and was photographed by the paparazzi several times.