Born Hanne Karin Bayer in Denmark in 1940, she moved to Paris at the age of 18 and began modelling.
Jean-Luc Godard first noticed Karina in a soap commercial and would go on to direct her in seminal 1960s French New Wave films like Le Petit Soldat, Vivre sa vie, Bande à part, Pierrot le Fou and Une femme est une femme.
Karina and Godard were married in 1961 but divorced in 1965. She later remarried three times to Perre Fabre (1968-1974), Daniel Duval (1978-1981) and Dennis Berry (1982-1994).
Karina set up her own production company in 1973, making her directorial debut that same year with Vivre ensemble. She also acted in the film.
Her final film was 2008's Victoria, which she directed and starred in. It was filmed in Montreal and Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean, as well as in various other locations in Quebec.
Karina was also a singer, releasing 1960s hits "Sous le soleil exactement" and "Roller Girl" with Serge Gainsbourg. In 2005, she released an album of songs from movies titled Chansons de films.
Between 1973 and 1988, she also wrote and released four novels, with Karina now remembered as an icon of both French cinema and fashion.
Read some of the social media tributes to Karina below.
RIP Anna Karina, a truly peerless star whose presence enlivened the screen like no one else. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/hFv9aqezpT— Criterion Channel (@criterionchannl) December 15, 2019
"After all, things are what they are. A message is a message, plates are plates, men are men, and life is life."— Janus Films (@janusfilms) December 15, 2019
-Anna Karina, RIP pic.twitter.com/XJie93gQso
Anna Karina hitchhiked from Denmark to France when she was 17, with no money, and then learned French (which she didn't speak) by going to the movies. In four years she was starring in them. Where's *that* movie, the one where she's the main character?— Ren Jender (@renjender) December 15, 2019
If you're new to Anna Karina, PIERROT LE FOU & BAND OF OUTSIDERS are terrific but my absolute favorite film she made with Godard is A WOMAN IS A WOMAN.— Jen Johans (@FilmIntuition) December 15, 2019
A candy colored charmer, it features an irresistible scene where she & Belmondo wordlessly hold up book titles to fight. pic.twitter.com/OQ8h00ngj7
3yo son behaving badly in a Paris restaurant. Mortifying. Then the owner comes to ask me to bring him over to meet one of his regulars, a woman eating with a friend at another table. 'So when he grows up he can say he was kissed by the great Anna Karina.' #RIP— Hari Kunzru (@harikunzru) December 15, 2019
"Everybody—even all the people with talent and genius—had their own kind of way. It doesn't matter what kind of way they're doing it, as long as it's getting to you, as long as you're on the same road." Rest in peace, Anna Karina, who magnetized our gaze and took our breath away. pic.twitter.com/J4Vlw7VwMB— Tribeca (@Tribeca) December 15, 2019
RIP to my forever queen and style inspiration Anna Karina 💔💔💔 pic.twitter.com/4QyIIqaM2y— Danielle Victoria (@xoMissDanielle) December 15, 2019