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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 15:12 GMT
French film legend Vadim dies

Brigitte Bardot and Roger Vadim Brigitte Bardot with husband Roger Vadim

Roger Vadim, the French film director who launched Brigitte Bardot's career in the classic And God Created Woman, has died of cancer aged 72.

The former actor and journalist was as well known for his relationships with some of the world's most beautiful women, as for his movie achievements.

Roger Vadim with actress Catherine Deneuve
Vadim married five times, the first time to Brigitte Bardot. His other wives included Hollywood star Jane Fonda and French actress Marie-Christine Barrault.

He also had a child with French screen legend Catherine Deneuve.

Vadim's groundbreaking 1956 film And God Created Woman, about a young married woman's quest for sexual freedom, brought Bardot instant fame.

The scene of Bardot dancing barefoot on a table remains one of the most titillating scenes in French cinema.

"There was really nothing shocking in what Brigitte did, what was provocative was her natural sensuality," Vadim once explained.

Female beauty

The film set the tone for many of his other films, including 1968's Barbarella, an avant-garde sci-fi romp starring his new wife, Jane Fonda.

She also became the first major American actress to bare all in the name of art in Vadim's 1964 film La Ronde.

American actress Jane Fonda with Roger Vadim
He also earned praise as a producer, writer and theatre in a career that spanned half a century.

Vadim was born Roger Vladimir Plemiannikov in Paris in 1928 - the son of a vice consul of France.

He met Bardot when she was 15, guiding her early career as a fashion model, and later introduced her to the cinema. They married in 1952 when she was 18 and he was 24.

After the success of And God Created Woman, Vadim went on to direct Bardot in several other films including Ms Don Juan and Please Not Now.

Roger Vadim and wife Jane Fonda in 1967 Roger Vadim and wife Jane Fonda in 1967
He also wrote several books including his autobiography, From One Star to the Next, in which he described his marriages to Bardot and Fonda.

He is survived by his wife, actress Marie-Christine Barrault, and four children: Vanessa, born to Fonda; Christian with Deneuve; Nathalie, born to actress Annette Stroyberg; and Vania, his child with heiress Catherine Schneider.

He was married to another actress, Marie-Christine Barrault, at the time of his death.

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