Childhood & Early Life
Roger Vadim was born Roger Vadim Plemiannikov, in Paris, France, on January 26, 1928, to Igor Nikolaevich Plemiannikov and Marie-Antoinette. His mother was a French actor, while his father was a “white émigré” military officer. In the later years of his career, his father had settled in France and had taken French citizenship.
Owing to his mother’s profession, Roger became interested in films and art quite early in his life. He had a keen interest in becoming an actor, and he was also interested in the craft of filmmaking.
Roger spent most of his early childhood years in Africa and the Middle East, where his father was stationed. However, following the death of his father, he settled with his mother in France. He was 9 years old at that time. His mother ran a hostel in the French Alps, which had become a spot for Jews to take refuge from the ‘Nazis.’
He attended a drama school after graduating high school. However, during his time at the ‘University of Paris,’ he underwent a major shift in terms of his career aspirations. He pursued journalism and writing and aspired to become a screenwriter and a director. By then, his will to become an actor had faded away to a great extent.
He did not finish his degree in college and dropped out at the age of 19 to pursue his goals of entering the film industry. He started assisting French film director Marc Allégret in the late 1940s.
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One of his first films as the assistant director of Marc was ‘Blanche Fury,’ which released in 1948. The film was made in the English language for a British company and was a box-office and commercial failure.
Roger wanted to become a screenwriter and soon started helping Marc out with his screenplays. In 1950, he got his first credit as one of the co-writers of the film ‘The Naked Heart.’ He also worked as the assistant director for the film. It was made in English and French simultaneously.
For the next few years, Roger was credited as a co-writer for many films made by Marc Allegret. Some of the films he wrote were successful, while others were failures. Two of his films with Marc were ‘Loves of Three Queens’ and ‘Julietta.’
Roger got the chance to write the 1953 film ‘School for Love,’ along with Marc. The film ended up being a major critical and commercial failure. Most of the films that Roger had written had not done well financially, and this put a big question mark on his future career as a director.
He desperately needed some hits to get enough financial backing as a director. Fortunately, success followed soon, with films such as ‘Plucking the Daisy’ and ‘Naughty Girl.’ The immense critical and commercial success of both the films ensured Roger received the funding he needed for his directorial ventures.
In 1956, Roger finally made his directorial debut with the film ‘And God Created Woman.’ The film relied heavily on eroticism and was considered to be an important part of the French New Wave. It starred Brigitte Bardot, who was dating Roger at that time. Following the major national and international success of the film, both Roger and Brigitte became French cinema icons.
Roger’s next directorial venture was the 1957 film titled ‘No Sun in Venice. This film was not as successful as his debut directorial venture. However, his third film as a director, ‘The Night Heaven Fell,’ became highly successful. He also returned to be a screenwriter for the comedy film ‘Be Beautiful but Shut Up.’
In the early 1960s, Roger directed some more successful films, such as ‘Please Not Now!’ and ‘The Seven Deadly Sins.’ He also had success with films such as ‘Love on a Pillow’ and ‘La Ronde.’ One of the many actors in the latter was popular Hollywood diva Jane Fonda. The two began a romantic relationship and collaborated on many more films later.
In 1966, he wrote and directed a French–English film for Jane Fonda, titled ‘The Game is Over.’ Although the film was a major success in France, it was not much of a success in the US.
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In 1968, Jane was offered a science–fiction sex comedy titled ‘Barbarella’ in Hollywood. She agreed to do it but on the condition that Roger should direct the film. The producers agreed. The film was a moderate success in both Europe and the US. In the UK, the film was one of the highest-earning films.
While he dated Fonda, Roger made many trips to the US but did not direct too many films in Hollywood. After his break-up with Fonda, he directed the American mystery film ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row.’ The film was a major commercial failure.
In the early 1970s, Roger returned to France and directed two films, ‘Hellé’ and ‘Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman.’ Both the films flopped badly. Roger churned out many more commercial flops in the 1970s, such as ‘Charlotte’ and ‘Game of Seduction.’
Following this, Roger shifted to the US to revive his career but gave a string of flops there, too, such as ‘Night Games.’ He returned to France again to direct films such as ‘Surprise Party’ but could not gain the success he once had.
He tried gaining back momentum and in 1988, borrowed the title of his successful film ‘And God Created Woman’ to make another film with the same title. It flopped badly, and Roger turned to TV.
In the 1990s, he wrote and directed TV films such as ‘Safari’ and ‘Amour fou.’ However, he had already lost his charm by then, which he never re-gained.
Apart from screenplays, Roger had written several memoirs during his lifetime, narrating the various romantic associations he had had with numerous actors over the years.
He also played small roles in films such as ‘Sweet and Sour’ and ‘Rich and Famous.’
Family & Personal Life
Roger Vadim had quite an active love life. He had been romantically linked with many actors he had worked with, such as Jane Fonda, Brigitte Bardot, and Cindy Pickett.
He married five times throughout his life. He was married to Brigitte Bardot, Annette Stroyberg, Jane Fonda, Catherine Schneider, and Marie-Christine Barrault. He was also involved in relationships with actor Catherine Deneuve and writer Ann Biderman. He had four children. One of his children, Christian Vadim, his son from his relationship with Catherine Deneuve, became an actor when he grew up.
On February 11, 2000, Roger Vadim died of cancer. He was 72 at the time of his death.