Happy Birthday, Julie Christie: 5 Fab Facts About The ‘Swinging London’ Beauty

Julie Christie, the face of the “Swinging London” era of the mid-1960 and universally considered at that time one of the world’s most beautiful women, celebrates a birthday on Monday, April 14, and she remains radiant at age 73.

Let’s look at five fast facts about one of the most famous faces on the ’60s and ’70s, who dropped out of Hollywood in the 1980s only to stage a resurgence in the following decade and even today.

Julie Christie Was Kicked Out Of School And Told She Was Ugly

Born in India, the daughter of a tea plantation owner, Julie Christie was sent to England at age six to attend Catholic schools, but she kept getting kicked out, but not because she was an especially wild young girl.

“It would be shocking for you to know how little it took to get expelled in those days,” she recalls. “Once it was because I had my school dress tucked in my knickers and was accused of enticing village boys.”

On one occasion, a nun told the future Oscar winner and to stop acting out and making faces because, “you’re ugly enough as it is.”

Pauline Kael Said She Couldn’t Act

If Julie Christie was one of the most famous actresses of her era, Pauline Kael was the most famous movie critic, whose word could often make or break a film — or a career. After seeing Julie Christie in the 1968 Richard Lester film Petulia, in which Christie plays a socialite caught in an abusive relationship, Kael wrote, “She had the profile of a Cocteau drawing—tawdry, classical—and that seemed enough: who could expect her to act?”

This was after Julie Christie had won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in the 1965 drama, Darling.

Julie Christie Dated Warren Beatty For Seven Years

In the 1960s and ’70s, Warren Beatty was not only known as one of Hollywood’s most fiercely committed actors, but as one of its most prolific playboys and womanizers. Julie Christie managed to stay in a relationship with Beatty from 1967 to 1974.

Their partnership, however, was a professional as well as romantic one. The co-starred in the revisionist, melancholy Robert Altman western McCabe and Mrs. Miller in 1971, then in 1975 made another classic of 1970s cinema, Shampoo. Three years later they collaborated again on a considerably lighter project, the zany supernatural comedy Heaven Can Wait.

Julie Christie Starred In Two Top Grossing Films, Four Decades Apart

In 1965, Julie Christie played Lara Antipova, the romantic heroine of the sweeping historical epic Doctor Zhivago. Her leading man was one of the most dashng figures of his day, Omar Sharif. The pairing of the two glamorous stars in the 3 1/2 hour drama based on an internationally bestselling novel proved box office gold. Converting its gross into 2014 dollars, Doctor Zhivago remains the eighth-highest box-office draw of all-time.

Julie Christie as "Lara" in "Doctor Zhivago."
Julie Christie as "Lara" in "Doctor Zhivago."

In 2004, 39 years after her Doctor Zhivago triumph, Julie Christie also had a prominent role in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, a movie that went on to become the 44th-highest moneymaker of all time, worldwide.

Julie Christie Now Devotes Herself To Political Activism

Today, as she turns 73, Julie Christie is less likely to talk about her next movie and more likely to be heard speaking out about global warming, the torture of political prisoners and similar topics. Some of her interest in political causes goes back to her relationship with Beatty.

“I knew that as a famous person you’re meant to be heard,” she said of her decision to devote herself to activism. “But I was much too shy and unsure of myself to get into that. Warren was very political, and I appreciated that very much indeed.”