People We Admire: Brigitte Bardot, animal rights activist

One of the most tireless campaigners for animal rights — and someone that Paul Penders much admires — is the still-gorgeous ex-movie star Brigitte Bardot. “Her persistence, willpower and unreserved love for animals have elevated her to the rank of International Ambassadress for the protection of animals.”

Through the years since her retirement from films in 1973, she has received international attention for her strong stances against animal cruelty. She has fought many battles against the killings of seals, dolphins and other marine animals, the consumption of horse meat, and the ritual slaughter of sheep. Recently, she has been instrumental in bringing an end to the Spanish tradition of bullfighting in Spain and elsewhere.

Always outspoken and sometimes radical in her views, in January 2013, she threatened to give up her French citizenship and move to Russia like her friend, film star Gerard Depardieu, has done recently, in order to save two tubercular elephants from being destroyed under orders from French government officials.

She established “The Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals” in 1986 to defend animal rights. Her foundation does not specialise in a specific area. “Its ambition is to be at the heart of the fight for animal rights, whatever this may entail. It acts to heighten awareness, inform, relieve and save. It intervenes anywhere in the world where there is mistreatment of and cruelty towards animals.”

Brigitte Bardot has been for most of her life a symbol of French culture and one of its greatest champions. In 1970, when sculptor Alain Gourdon was commissioned to make a bust of Marianne, the French national emblem, he chose Brigitte Bardot as his model. When she threatens to give up her citizenship in order to save animals, her activism has real power to make positive change.

She has also managed to anger and offend many people over the years by her sometimes radical perspectives on issues. Still — that willingness to stand up and take action for what she believes to be right makes her truly admirable.

By Teviot Fairservis.


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A Hoax or a Help?

Thanks to people willing to take action — like one of our heroines, Brigitte Bardot — cruelty to animals can and must be stopped wherever you find it. She has become a leading advocate for an end to one of the most spectacular and longest standing examples of torturing animals for entertainment – bullfighting.

Because of the growing sentiment against bullfighting, this ancient entertainment is gradually disappearing. The picture below has been circulating all over the internet for several years. But it’s not quite what it appears to be…

    “And suddenly, I looked at the bull. He had this innocence that all animals have in their eyes, and he looked at me with this pleading. It was like a cry for justice, deep down inside of me. I describe it as being like a prayer – because if one confesses, it is hoped, that one is forgiven…”

This picture has moved thousands of people to stop the cruel practice of bullfighting. It circulates on the internet and Facebook, and credits Álvaro Múnera Builes as the matador who despairs at the agony of the dying bull and as the author of these words. The truth is a little more complicated.

Known around the world as “the vegetarian matador,” at 17 years old, Álvaro Múnera won an international tournament in his home country of Colombia. “The less you move, the greater the risk.” He stayed very still and was awarded the top prize for his bravery. He became known as “El Pilarico,” and was invited to continue his career in Spain. When only 18 years old in September 1984, he was thrown into the air by a powerful bull. When he landed, the bull gored him again, severing his spine and rendering him paraplegic for life. Now an activist for animal rights and disabled people, he speaks out against the practice of bullfighting.

It’s a wonderful story, isn’t it? But it’s a hoax.

Múnera’s biography is true. To this day, he is in a wheelchair. He does work to end the practice. An eloquent and moving audio interview is posted on the internet done by Radio Netherlands Worldwide (RNW, October 2011). As one commentator wrote: “Have a listen. he’s a human being just like you and me. not bombastic, simply telling his story.” Go to:

He recounts meeting an elderly woman who said, “I’m really happy to see you in a wheelchair. You are a barbarian. You are cruel. And you don’t deserve to ever walk again.” He realized that “It is unethical to torture and kill animals for entertainment.” He remains haunted by dreams of bulls he has killed and says, “I hope they will forgive me for the wrongs I have done.”

“A picture is worth a thousand words,” says the Chinese proverb. When is it right for a hoax to continue? Perhaps, as in this case, when it helps bring awareness.

The photograph is actually of an exhausted matador, Francisco Javier Sánchez Vara, simply taking a break while waiting for the bull to collapse. The words come from an article by the author Antonio Gala Velasco in the Spanish newspaper El País in 1995. Alexander Fiske-Harrison, author of Into the Arena, The World of the Spanish Bullfight blogged about this misinformation in July and once again the photo is circulating widely on Facebook. For the true story, see “This Photo is Not What It Seems” on

Things are changing in Spain and throughout the world. PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) UK has an online petition to Spain’s government which asks, “Please heed the 72 per cent of Spaniards who have no interest in bullfighting and would prefer their beloved country to be seen as a compassionate place that respects the lives of all its inhabitants.”

The Spanish animal rights group “Prou!” (Catalan for “Enough”) collected 180,000 signatures asking the Catalonia Parliament to end the practice. In September 2011 in a packed arena in Barcelona, Catalonia ended its 700 year history with the last bullfight in that state.

If you agree as we do that bullfighting should be stopped, sign it here:

By Teviot Fairservis.


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Brigitte Bardot… An Example of True Beauty

In Los Angeles, California, more than 10 years ago, we produced a 30-minute “infomercial” television show called “A Lifetime of Beauty.” It was aired in all the big cities of the U.S. including Boston, New York, Miami, Seattle, San Francisco and Houston. The show promoted the newest product which our company pioneered — the first natural AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) cosmetic product in the world.

    GlycoFruit was the first natural AHA on the market

The novelty was that these special products called “GlycoFruit” contained acids from the rhubarb plant that naturally sloughs-off old skin cells to reveal clear and fresh-looking skin. So how did it happen that this product became featured in a 30-minute television show?

    Street sign at the famous Hollywood Boulevard

GlycoFruit became a hit in a few stores in San Francisco and our best-selling product ever in the history of Paul Penders Co. It was also advertised in several natural lifestyle magazines around the country. The advertisements got the attention of a few Hollywood celebrities and soon their agencies started to contact us.
To make a long story short, soon afterwards Katja and I were invited to Hollywood to visit several movie stars wanting to discuss a business deal about this new GlycoFruit product. According to them, GlycoFruit would make for a perfect 30-minute infomercial product to be shown nationwide on television!
Dr. Joni Laughran while working in our company in California wrote a book for the show, also with the same name, “A Lifetime of Beauty.” The book was a give-away for people who called the Paul Penders Company enquiring about our newest beauty invention.
Honestly, Katja and I had a blast meeting these movie stars at their homes. I can say this was a very interesting tour, and we got to meet several popular stars over a few days.

    Meredith MacRae with her special friend Bob Hope

After meeting these celebrities and their Entertainment Lawyers, I finally signed contracts with 2 stars; the most important one was Meredith MacRae (May 30, 1944 – July 14, 2000), best known as Billie Jo on the TV sitcoms, Petticoat Junction and as Sally Ann in My Three Sons.
Several weeks after the signing ceremony, we started shooting in the studio of Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show.” It was a time of learning, fun and excitement. During the shooting days, got to know Meredith better. She turned out to be a charming, intelligent and very kind person with a healthy amount of humor!
Part of the filming for the show was in Hollywood and part at our company’s base in Petaluma in Northern California. Meredith, her agent and a crew of beauticians all flew out to Petaluma for the shoot at Paul Penders Company.
We had dinner with the group the night before filming and then became it apparent how much she looked like Catherine Deneuve, the beautiful and distinguished French movie star I admired so much as well. Probably too it was that which attracted Katja and me to Meredith in the first place.

    French movie star Catherine Deneuve

Since I am talking movie stars, there is another movie star I REALLY admire and have since a young age — Brigitte Bardot. I fell for her because of a few great movies with producer Roger Vadim, and later because she became a fierce fighter for animal rights.
To this day, Brigitte Bardot’s focus in life is to end the suffering of animals. A little while ago we wrote about the vote in Catalonia, Spain making bull fighting illegal this year. Let me mention that Brigitte Bardot’s latest fight is to stop the bull fighting in the South of France where it is still legally practiced.

    Brigitte Bardot still looks fabulously beautiful.

She was interviewed not long ago by “France Dimanche” and told the reporter, “My life would have been worthless if changes are not made to stop bullfights in France before I die. But I am like a pit bull; when I start biting, I don’t let go easily”.

      Thank you, Dame Bardot, for being a
      living example for me by helping
      to set the standards to stop
      cruelty to animals!