Cannes Flashback: When Brigitte Bardot Stormed the Beach (Photos)

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This story first appeared in the May 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Brigitte Bardot didn't appear in a film that played the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, but she didn't need to. From the moment the 18-year-old starlet hit the beach, wearing a shockingly brief bikini, all eyes were on her. "Bardot flaunted spontaneity and informality via her girlish barefoot gait, long, loose hair and unfussy, mostly skimpy attire," says Columbia film professor Edward Baron Turk. "She invented a new image of the French starlet: anti-snobbish, non-intimidating." But while she obliged the paparazzi, Bardot would later insist they chose her "at random, for want of anyone better."

PHOTOS: When Brigitte Bardot Stormed the Beach

Within just three years, with 1956's …And God Created Woman, filmed in the South of France, she became a full-fledged star. But it didn't last. In 1973, at age 39, tiring of all the attention, she retired to a beachfront home in nearby St. Tropez, where she is now a virtual recluse.

Click here to see vintage photos of Bardot at Cannes.

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