PARIS - BRIGITTE Bardot, the 1950s sex goddess who became a feminist icon and symbol of sexual liberation, turns 75 on Monday with her native France at her feet and a very first exhibition in her honour.
Now a virtual recluse who walks on crutches because of arthritis, Bardot will neither attend the Tuesday launch of the giant exhibit - Brigitte Bardot: The Carefree Years - nor appear on camera.
But in a voiced comment on French television she said: 'I am proud to have an exhibition, to be recognised for what I've done with my life.'
One of the 20th century's last living icons, the little girl who loved stuffed animals and ballet dancing grew up to become a cult figure of freedom.
From teen idol to fashion goddess to sex bomb, Bardot wound up embodying the spirit of the times - the empowerment of women and the tide of sexual liberation.
But it all became too much.
News footage at the exhibit sees Bardot at the height of her career being mobbed at the Cannes festival by hysterical fans who are beaten back and sent flying to the ground by police as they tear at the star.
Suddenly Bardot shrieks, lets out another piercing cry, drops to the ground in a faint, and has to be hauled off to safety on the shoulders of police.
The Paris show gathering some 2,000 photos, films and mementos - few of them hers - spans B.B.'s life and times from her teens, when she rocketed to stardom, to her retirement aged just 39 in 1973.
They include portraits by Andy Warhol on loan from her third husband, millionaire German playboy Gunter Sachs, and the gingham wedding dress she wore for husband number two, Jacques Charrier, which made country-bumpkin pink gingham stylish worldwide. -- AFP