Jane Birkin doing well after stroke, say her family

The actor and singer Jane Birkin is doing well after having a stroke some days ago, her family has said.

The news was disclosed in a statement announcing that the English-born star was cancelling her appearance at the American film festival in Deauville, France.

The 74-year-old was due to talk at the festival about Jane by Charlotte, a documentary about her by Charlotte Gainsbourg, Birkin’s daughter by her former partner Serge Gainsbourg.

Birkin, who captured French hearts at the age of 21 as the epitome of London’s 60s cool, was diagnosed with leukaemia in 2002 and underwent rounds of treatment.

However, she appeared to be in good health during recent public appearances, including at this year’s Cannes film festival, and on stage during the Francofolies music festival in La Rochelle in July.

Birkin suffered a minor form of stroke a few days ago, her family said in a statement released to the French news agency Agence France-Presse. “She is doing well,” it said.

Birkin lives in Paris, regularly seeing her daughters Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon, who are actors and musicians. Her oldest daughter, Kate Barry, a photographer, died in 2013.

In the second volume of her memoirs, covering life after Serge Gainsbourg and released in 2019, Birkin wrote of how she conducted her life and love affairs with “an absolutely unfounded optimism”, but stopped writing a long-term diary on the evening of the death of her daughter, whom she had with her first husband, the composer John Barry.

“How could I write after that? ... It was like I was living a parallel life. The carpet had been pulled from under my feet. I fell ill ... and why not,” she wrote. The leukaemia returned afterwards and she required further treatment.

Last year she released the English-language version of the first volume of her memoirs, Munkey Diaries: 1957-1982, which trace her life from her postwar British upper middle-class childhood to her emergence as a star in France and beyond.

Jane by Charlotte, a portrayal of Birkin as a mother, wife and artist, is the directorial debut of Charlotte Gainsbourg, who has spoken of how she made it because she wanted to spend more time with her mother.

“I needed to get close to her, and I couldn’t without an excuse,” she said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The first trailer for the documentary was released in July.