16. The Unforgiven (1960)
17. Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
19. Charade (1963)
87 6 6
20. Paris When It Sizzles (1964)
21. My Fair Lady (1964)
22. How to Steal a Million (1966)
23. Two for the Road (1967)
11. Ingrid Bergman
Last of the great playboys (...who married Bardot for a bet): As Gunther Sachs shoots himself (like his SS officer father), the story of the Sixties' biggest womaniser
The newlyweds, who were impossibly glamorous, were all over each other that night in Hollywood. Brigitte Bardot was wearing the shortest of mini dresses, Gunther Sachs was in his trademark blazer with loafers and no socks.
Finally, they went upstairs to consummate their marriage — to the great relief of everyone, including myself, at their wedding reception. We had all feared they might be about to perform on the dining room table such was the sexual chemistry that simmered between them.
Perhaps memories of that extraordinary night in 1966 played through Sachs’s mind before he shot himself at the weekend at the age of 78.
Playboy: Gunter Sachs, who has comitted suicide aged 78, with his wife Brigitte Bardot, who he allegedly married to win a bet with his friends
Sachs — one of the last great playboys — took his life in his villa in the jet-set Swiss resort of Gstaad because he feared an illness he would only call A, but which is thought to have been Alzheimer’s.
A tragic end, but no one could say that he had not packed the years with the most dramatic highs and lows.
Handsome, rich and sexy, Sachs — whose grandfather started the Opel car dynasty — had inherited a fortune thought to be £280 million, and he was happy to spend it in pursuit of the finer pleasures in life.
His father Willy — a Nazi party member and honorary SS officer — shot himself in a hunting hut in 1958 (a death his son would copy). If that were not bad enough, Gunther had lost his first wife a year earlier after a minor operation went wrong.
An indefatigable sportsman, he sought solace in sporting challenges such as the Cresta Run — and women. He bedded Aristotle Onassis’s ex-wife Tina and the former Queen Soraya of Persia.
Sachs boasted he never worked in his life, instead passing the time by making documentary films and photographing beautiful women. And he partied with the most stylish people from the Swiss slopes to the French Riviera.
Gunter Sachs was only married to Bardot for three years but it is what he will be best remembered for
For all the women in his life, though, it was for his marriage to Bardot that he will be remembered. He was 33 when he met the French sex kitten, then 31 and at the height of her fame.
It was Bardot who had put the little fishing village of St Tropez on the map in the Fifties after making the film And God Created Woman there.
The impossibly dashing Sachs had a villa named La Capilla there — as well as homes in Paris, London, Munich, Lausanne, Bavaria and Gstaad.
He and his best friends, playboys Porfirio Rubirosa and Prince Aly Khan — who were later to die in car crashes — spent much of their time in the Monte Carlo casino.
Ever the gambler, Sachs always said he married Bardot just weeks after they met to win a bet made with his friends.
The couple were introduced in a St Tropez restaurant by Bardot’s former husband Roger Vadim — it was the start of an instant courtship.
She left her lover of three years Bob Zaguri on the spot, Sachs dumped his girlfriend and they ended up in bed.
He took his trophy to Monte Carlo, installed her in a hotel suite and, when he won £30,000 on the tables, presented it to her as a token of his affection.
Flower in hand, the French actress and Gunther Sachs on their wedding day in Las Vegas. The ceremony lasted eight minutes and the marriage three years
After their Las Vegas wedding the couple flew to Tahiti for their honeymoon. Here they are pictured shortly after their arrival in French Polynesia
Sachs did nothing by halves. For his next trick, he sent 100 red roses every day to Bardot’s hideaway beach house in St Tropez. When he feared she would tire of that, he had his helicopter fly overhead and scatter the roses in her garden.
While she was still picking them out of the lavender bushes, Sachs dropped into the sea out of the helicopter, preceded by two suitcases. He had come to stay.
Later, knowing her love of animals, he bought her a tame cheetah.
Predictably, after such a beginning it was all downhill from then on.
Indeed, by the time I witnessed their extravagant fondlings and Brigitte’s increasing ill-humour on their wedding night — Bastille Day, July 14, 1966 — there were already signs the relationship was beginning to crack.
They had travelled to Las Vegas to get married in the gambling capital of the world because Vadim, who was still advising his former wife, had married Jane Fonda there the previous year.
After an eight-minute ceremony, the comedian Danny Kaye flew them in his private jet to Beverly Hills, where he cooked them one of his legendary Chinese meals to celebrate. Kaye also invited me and a handful of other guests. It was all too much for Brigitte, who clearly longed for intimacy and spent the evening sitting on her bridegroom’s knee. Sachs enjoyed the circus that came with being married to the world’s greatest sex symbol.
Having allowed his bride’s manipulative ex to arrange the wedding, he even agreed to him booking the honeymoon in Tahiti.
The German millionaire was Bardot's third husband: Here they are pictured on a yacht during their honeymoon
But it was when they returned to Paris that the couple began to realise they were a mismatch.
Despite the wealth she had amassed as an actress, Brigitte lived in an unfashionable area surrounded by bourgeois clutter.
She hated the sterility of Sachs’ chilly apartment on the Avenue Foch, with its rows of hollow leather-bound books that were just for show.
‘All those marble bathrooms and footmen in white gloves — she did not know what to do,’ a friend reported immediately after the honeymoon. Bardot labelled the apartment the Gunther Hilton.
When he threw a ball for her in his Bavarian hunting lodge, she was appalled when his 11-year-old son Rolf, from his first marriage, asked for her autograph.
Wedding day: Sachs met his third wife Mirja in the late 1960s and she stayed with him to his death. The couple had two sons
On the beach: Gunter and Mirja Sachs take a stroll
She loved all the things Sachs’ wealth could buy — fast cars and his yacht, called the Dracula, moored in the South of France — but in the end she hated his lifestyle. She didn’t even like his thoroughbred animals, much preferring waifs and strays from the local dogs home.
She forbade him from hunting, which was one of his aristocratic pleasures, and was infuriated when he brought his golf clubs to Scotland when she made a film there with British pop star Mike Sarne in 1967. She wanted them to spend all her free time together, not for him to head off to the links.
While Brigitte craved romantic dinners for two, Gunther’s idea of a good night out was to treat 120 guests in famous Parisian restaurants such as Maxim’s.
Brigitte would provoke him by turning up barefoot. Charming though it might have been in St Tropez, it was not what the multi-millionaire heir to an industrialist fortune expected of his wife in a sophisticated capital city.
Then there were his other lovers. In his mind, marriage was no bar to the occasional fling, and he expected his wife to understand. While Bardot was filming, he was pictured escorting models all over the Riviera and even on the German nudist island of Sylt.
If she was on location in out-of-the way places, he often refused to visit. He stormed off the set in Almeria in Spain where she was making a western with Sean Connery. ‘Too ugly, too dirty, too hot,’ he said.
In the early 1960s Sachs was romantically linked with Iranian queen Soraya Esfandiary (left). She is seen here with the Shah of Iran and was his second wife
But while Sachs expected a lot of licence in his marriage, he didn’t like it when Bardot retaliated, bedding Mike Sarne, Ben-Hur actor Stephen Boyd and a host of French and Italian actors and stuntmen.
No doubt furious that he was photographed a couple of paces behind her, Sachs got a reputation for punching the paparazzi.
Things came to a head when Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg, another of her lovers, recorded the notorious song Je T’aime Non Plus, with its heavy breathing and erotic lyrics.
Sachs, an old-fashioned man at heart, said it sounded as if they were making love in the recording studio and refused to let the record be released, thus paving the way for Jane Birkin’s success with the song a short while later.
The marriage finally foundered because Sachs refused to change his ways for Bardot — and she didn’t want to change for him.
Keeping up with her bohemian ways was such a strain that it turned his hair prematurely white.
Sachs finally had enough when Jane Fonda fixed up Bardot with the then king of Hollywood, Warren Beatty, and the two embarked on a not-so-clandestine affair all over Paris.
The marriage had lasted just three years — and the eyes of the world had been on the couple throughout.
Gunter Sachs, centre, with the mayor of Leipzig and the director Leipzig Museum. They are standing in front of an Andy Warhol painting of Sachs at retrospektive of his collection called 'Art Is Female'. The playboy was a renowned art collector as well as photographer
Sachs, here posing for the press at an exhibition of his art and photography in 2003. He shot himself at his Swiss chalet in Gstaad this weekend
By the time they divorced in 1969, Sachs had met his third wife, the Swedish model Mirja Larsson, who would remain with him to the end.
He had two more sons with her, continued his photography, financed boutiques in St Tropez, collected modern art and founded an astrology research centre.
But there is nothing so redundant as an ageing playboy. When I was last in St Tropez, I saw Gunther, still a stylish man, pacing the jetty of his waterfront home, fiercely fending off sightseers and guarding his privacy in a way that would have appealed to Bardot when they were together.
Meanwhile, she was tucked away in her nearby property, surrounded as usual by packs of mongrel dogs.
Though they never lost touch, it is easy to see why two such flamboyant characters could not live together and why, now that he is gone, she, too, will be dwelling once more on memories of those infamous days.
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