Bo Derek

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Bo Derek
Bo Derek 2010.jpg
Bo Derek in 2010
BornMary Cathleen Collins
(1956-11-20) November 20, 1956 (age 58)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
Years active1977–present
Notable work(s)10 (1979)
Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)
Bolero (1984)
Tommy Boy (1995)
Spouse(s)John Derek
(1976–1998; his death)
Partner(s)John Corbett
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Bo Derek
Bo Derek 2010.jpg
Bo Derek in 2010
BornMary Cathleen Collins
(1956-11-20) November 20, 1956 (age 58)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
Years active1977–present
Notable work(s)10 (1979)
Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981)
Bolero (1984)
Tommy Boy (1995)
Spouse(s)John Derek
(1976–1998; his death)
Partner(s)John Corbett

Bo Derek (born Mary Cathleen Collins; November 20, 1956) is an American film and television actress, movie producer, and model perhaps best known for her role in the 1979 film 10. The film also launched a bestselling poster for Derek in a swimsuit, and subsequently she became one of the most popular sex symbols in the 1980s. Her later films were not well-received, either critically or at the box office. She makes occasional film, television and documentary appearances.

Early life[edit]

Bo Derek was born Mary Cathleen Collins in Long Beach, California. Her father, Paul Collins, was a Hobie Cat executive, and her mother, Norma, a make-up artist and hairdresser to Ann-Margret. Derek's parents divorced, and her mother married American stunt performer Bobby Bass.

Derek attended Narbonne High School and George S. Patton Continuation School, both in Harbor City, California. Derek remarked in a 1985 interview on Late Night with David Letterman, "I was 16 when I quit high school. I didn't really mean to quit. I spent about a month going to the beach surfing and sunbathing while I was supposed to be in school: when I got caught, my mom was furious. I started to go back to school, and I was really enjoying it, and then I went to go do this film with John in Greece..." [1]



In 1972, at age 16 while attending Narbonne High School in Los Angeles,[2] she became romantically involved with John Derek, a married man 30 years her senior. Not long after the two started dating, John divorced his wife, actress Linda Evans, and the couple moved to Germany where John Derek would not be subject to the American statutory rape law due to Cathleen's young age. They returned to the U.S. when Cathleen was 18 and they married June 10, 1976. In 1973 in Germany, John began to pursue making a film starring Cathleen. Entitled Fantasies, the film would be a low-budgeted English-language romantic drama that cast her alongside several unknown German actors and actresses. It was shot over a ten-day period in Greece in the summer of 1973. In an effort to capitalize on Bo's good looks, John had several risqué scenes worked into the film, which showcased the then unknown actress in revealing outfits as well as some brief nudity. Due to the fierce controversy that surrounded Fantasies, Derek had it re-edited twice before trying to sell it to studios. The film went unreleased until 1981 when Derek had already achieved a sex symbol status.[citation needed]

By 1976, John Derek had given his wife a so-called Hollywood makeover. She had bleached her hair blonde and adopted the name Bo Derek. In 1977 she caught the eye of director Michael Anderson and was cast in a small role in Anderson's upcoming horror flick, Orca (1977), which was Anderson's answer to major success of Jaws. The film received only a minor theatrical release in July 1977 and was an ultimate box office disappointment. In 1979, Derek was selected over Melanie Griffith, Heather Thomas and several others for the role of Jenny Hanley in the romantic comedy film 10. Directed by Blake Edwards, the film starred Dudley Moore, as a middle-aged man who finds Derek's character to be the ideal woman for him, though he is already in a relationship with another woman, played by Julie Andrews. Derek's presence in a dream sequence racing towards Moore in a flimsy flesh-colored swimsuit became iconic and launched her status as a mainstream sex symbol. This sequence and Derek’s cornrow hairstyle in the film have often been parodied. 10 became a critical and financial blockbuster.

After 10, Derek was immediately cast in A Change of Seasons (1980), a dramedy film, alongside Shirley MacLaine and Anthony Hopkins. The film cast Derek as a young college student who has an affair with her older, married professor. Critics gave unfavorable reviews of A Change of Seasons and it became only a moderate box office success. She followed with MGM's R-rated Tarzan, the Ape Man in 1981. Directed by husband John Derek, the film dealt very little on the title character of Tarzan but instead focused more on Derek's character of Jane Parker.

The film gave Derek her first leading role in a mainstream Hollywood film. Due to its strong dwelling on the role of Jane, the film was originally to be entitled Me, Jane, Jane and Tarzan or Searching for Tarzan. Filming took place on location in Africa on a moderate budget of $6.5 million. John Derek again wanted to showcase the physique of his wife and required her to wear risqué and controversial outfits for several scenes. In one scene Bo appeared nude while several African women were bathing her and later while they were painting her white. Before the film was released John Derek and MGM were sued by the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate over the name of the film, as Derek's role and physique seemed to overshadow the focus on Tarzan. The film was heavily criticized by critics.

On March 31, 1981, Derek (along with Faye Dunaway for Mommie Dearest) won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. Tarzan, the Ape Man did, however, become a box office success, making over $35 million in ticket sales, and becoming the 15th highest-grossing film of 1981.[citation needed]

Bo Derek with husband John Derek and Chandran Rutnam.

In August 1980, she made her first appearance in Playboy magazine. She would again pose in September 1981. By the early 1980s, Derek's film career had begun to crumble. Between 1981 and 1983, Derek had no film offers. She did, however, make frequent public appearances, in addition to magazine covers and television shows. In 1984, she filmed Bolero, directed by her husband. The film centered on the protagonist's sexual awakening and her journey around the world to pursue an ideal first lover who will take her virginity. The sexual nature of the film, along with substantial nude and inappropriate content, eventually led to the film being given an X-rating, a rating usually only given to pornographic or horror films.[citation needed]

Critical reviews for Bolero were poor and the film failed to recoup its production costs at the box office. Derek's performance of the young, sexually inexperienced female lead was given the worst reviews. On March 24, 1985, she once again won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. Bolero also won other Raspberry awards, including "Worst Director", "Worst Screenplay", "Worst Picture", "Worst New Star" and "Worst Musical Score". The film was called Derek's worst screen performance, but has since become her second most popular film appearance behind 10.[citation needed]

After a five-year hiatus from films, Derek returned to motion pictures with the dramedy-fantasy Ghosts Can't Do It, which was filmed and released on video in foreign countries in 1989, but didn't receive a theatrical release in the United States until June 1990. It would prove to be the final teaming of Bo as lead actress and her husband John as director. The film was John Derek's imitation of the fantasy film Ghost, which was released the same year and garnered critical and financial success. She won another "Worst Actress" award for her performance, and the film also won "Worst Picture," "Worst Director" and "Worst Supporting Actor" awards. Ghosts Can't Do It was not favored among critics, and was a box office failure.[citation needed]

Upon the release of Ghosts Can’t Do It, Derek and husband John took a break from acting due to John's declining health. Bo would return to acting with the 1992 television movie Hot Chocolate, which was followed by Shattered Image in 1994, another television film. She returned to theatrical films with the 1994 R-rated romance Woman of Desire. The film co-starred film legend Robert Mitchum and received only a minor theatrical release. Due to its lack of publicity, the studio released the film on VHS the same day it premiered in theaters.

In 1995, she appeared in the raunchy comedy film Tommy Boy. The film received mixed reviews from critics, but was a financial success. Derek was again nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress but lost to Madonna (for Four Rooms). In 1998, her 22-year marriage ended when John Derek died suddenly. Later that year she guest starred on four episodes of Wind on Water, and in 1999, appeared on The Drew Carey Show. In the early 2000s, she appeared in guest roles on the shows Family Law, Queen of Swords, Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, Lucky, Still Standing, and 7th Heaven.

She appeared in several feature films, including Frozen with Fear and Malibu's Most Wanted. On March 25, 2000 at the 20th Golden Raspberry Awards, Derek was nominated for "Worst Actress of the Century." She shared this nomination with Madonna, Brooke Shields, Elizabeth Berkley and Pia Zadora: eventually, Madonna won the award. In 2006, Derek starred in 40 episodes of the 65 episode telenovela series Fashion House, along with Morgan Fairchild.


Visiting a VA hospital in Los Angeles, 2005

Derek, who describes herself as Independent, supported George H. W. Bush in 1988 and 1992 and campaigned for his son George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and she appeared at both Republican conventions. In a January 2011 interview with the Hollywood Reporter, she said she had voted for Barack Obama in 2008. She has appeared at events with bachelor Republican Congressman David Dreier of Southern California.[3]

When White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten was asked about his relationship with Derek on the April 30, 2006 edition of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Bolten said she was a friend and a "strong supporter of the President."[citation needed] In 2006, she was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by President George W. Bush, on the operations committee.[4]

In 2012, she endorsed Mitt Romney for President.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Horse owner and activist[edit]

A horse lover and riding enthusiast since childhood, she owns Andalusian horses and is a spokesperson for the Animal Welfare Institute's campaign to end horse slaughter through passage of federal and state legislation. On February 5, 2002, she published her autobiography entitled Riding Lessons: Everything That Matters in Life I Learned from Horses (ISBN 0-060-39437-4). She serves on the California Horse Racing Board.

Wounded veterans advocate[edit]

She is national honorary chairperson for Veterans Affairs' National Rehabilitation Special Events. Derek attended the 17th annual Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colorado. In 2003, she received the VA's highest honor from Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi. Derek goes on United Service Organizations (USO) tours. The Special Forces Association named her an honorary Green Beret.[6]

Derek's father, Paul Collins, was a radio operator during the Korean war, and stepfather and her late husband, John Derek, were also veterans.


John and Bo moved to Germany and returned to the United States soon after Bo's 18th birthday, and they married in 1976. They remained married until his death from heart failure in 1998.[7] Since 2002, she has been involved with actor John Corbett.[8] She continues to live in California with her sister, her sister's husband, and their two children.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Acting credits[edit]


Orca1977AnnieAKA: Orca: The Killer Whale (for some releases).
101979Jenny HanleyNominated: Golden Globe Award for Best New Star
A Change of Seasons1980Lindsey Rutledge
Fantasies1981AnastasiaBilled as: Kathleen Collins. Filmed in 1973; legally her "film debut".
Tarzan, the Ape Man1981Jane ParkerWon: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
Bolero1984Ayre "Mac" MacGillivery
Ghosts Can't Do It1990Katie O'Dare Scott
Woman of Desire1993Christina Ford
Tommy Boy1995Beverly Barish-Burns CallahanNominated: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
Sunstorm2001Victoria Warren
Frozen with Fear2001Katherine Sullivan
Horror 1012001Miss Allison James
The Master of Disguise2002HerselfCameo appearance
Nominated: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
Malibu's Most Wanted2003Bess Gluckman
Boom2003HerselfCameo appearance
Life in the Balance2004Kathryn Garr
Crusader2005Nicola Markham
Highland Park2012Destiny


Hot Chocolate1992BJ CassidyTelevision movie
Shattered Image1994Helen AllgoodTelevision movie
Wind on Water1998Ciel Connolly3 episodes
The Drew Carey Show1999Herself1 episode
Family Law2000Camille Weller1 episode
Queen of Swords2000Mary Rose1 episode "The Witness"
Murder at the Cannes Film Festival2000Thada PryceTelevision movie
Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place2001Susan Bergen3 episodes
Lucky2003Joan1 episode
Still Standing2005Mrs. Rose Grundy1 episode
7th Heaven2003–05Mrs. Kinkirk3 episodes
Crusader2005Nicola MarkhamTelevision movie
Fashion House2006Maria Gianni40 episodes
The Hunt for the I-5 Killer2011SeaverTelevision movie
Chuck2012HerselfSeason 5, Episode 10 "Chuck Versus Bo"
CSI:Miami2012Joanna ToringSeason 10, Episode 14

also played in a LMN movie, Frozen Fear


External links[edit]