Bo Derek

Bo Derek

Derek in 2010
Born Mary Cathleen Collins
(1956-11-20) November 20, 1956
Long Beach, California, U.S.
Other names Kathleen Collins
Beau C. Shane[1]
Occupation Actress
Years active 1973–present
Notable work
Relatives Sean Catherine Derek (stepdaughter)

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 breakthrough 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 of the 1980s. She was directed by husband John Derek in Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), Bolero (1984) and Ghosts Can't Do It (1989), none of which were critically well received. A widow since 1998, she lives with actor John Corbett. She makes occasional film, television and documentary appearances.

Early life

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...[2]



While attending Narbonne High School in Los Angeles at age 16 in 1973,[2] Cathleen 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. The couple moved to Germany where John Derek would not be subject to prosecution under California statutory rape laws due to Cathleen's illicit underage association with Derek.

In 1973 in Germany, John began to pursue making a film starring Cathleen. Entitled Fantasies, he planned the film as a low-budget English-language romantic drama, and 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 beauty, John had several risqué scenes worked into the film, which showcased the unknown Cathleen's good looks, featuring her 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 as Bo Derek, the actress had already achieved a sex symbol status.

They married on June 10, 1976; she was 19 and he was 49. By that time, John Derek had given his young 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 his upcoming horror flick, Orca (1977), which was Anderson's answer to major success of Jaws. The film received 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 appearance 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 dramatic-comedy film, alongside Shirley MacLaine and Anthony Hopkins. She played a young college student who has an affair with her older, married professor. Critics reviewed it unfavorably and A Change of Seasons had 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, along with numerous scenes of her in revealing jungle costumes.

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 Sri Lanka on a moderate budget of $6.5 million. John Derek wanted to showcase his wife's physical appeal and required her to wear risqué outfits in several scenes, which generated controversy. In one scene Bo appeared nude while several African women were bathing her and later she was nude again while they painted 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 body overshadowed the story of Tarzan. The film was strongly 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 became a box office success, making over $35 million in ticket sales, and becoming the 15th highest-grossing film of 1981.[3]

Bo Derek with husband John Derek and Chandran Rutnam

In August 1980, Derek was first featured in Playboy magazine. She posed again for the September 1981 issue. By the early 1980s, Derek's film career had begun to crumble. Between 1981 and 1983, Derek had no film offers. She made frequent public appearances, and was featured on magazine covers and as a guest on television talk shows. In 1984, she filmed Bolero, directed by her husband. The film explored the female protagonist's sexual awakening, and her journey around the world to find an ideal first lover to take her virginity. The sexual nature of the film, along with substantial nudity and questionable content, resulted in the film being given an X rating, usually reserved for pornographic or extremely violent horror films.

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 again won the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. Bolero 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, after 10.

After a five-year hiatus from films, Derek returned to motion pictures with the drama/comedy/fantasy Ghosts Can't Do It, which was filmed and released on video in foreign countries in 1989. It did not receive a theatrical release in the United States until June 1990. It was 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. Bo Derek 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 criticized and was a box office failure.

Upon the release of Ghosts Can’t Do It, Derek and her husband took a break from acting due to John's declining health. Bo returned to acting in 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 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, Derek appeared as the evil Beverly Barish in the 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 husband of 22-years John Derek died suddenly.

Later that year she guest starred on four episodes of Wind on Water. In 1999, she 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.

Bo Derek 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. Derek had a featured role in the 2015 campy made-for-TV horror film Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!. Derek is set to be a part of the 2016 Comedy Central roast of Rob Lowe.[4]


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.[5]

When White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten was asked about his relationship with Derek on the edition of April 30, 2006 of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Bolten said she was a friend and a "strong supporter of the President". 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.[6]

In 2012, she endorsed Mitt Romney for president.[7]

Personal life

Horse owner and activist

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 0-06-039437-4). She serves on the California Horse Racing Board.

Wounded veterans advocate

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.[8]

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.[9] Since 2002, she has been involved with actor John Corbett.[10] She continues to live in California with her sister, sister-in-law, and their two children.[11]

Awards and nominations

Acting credits


Film Year Role Notes
Orca 1977 Annie AKA: Orca: The Killer Whale (for some releases).
10 1979 Jenny Hanley Nominated: Golden Globe Award for Best New Star
A Change of Seasons 1980 Lindsey Rutledge
Fantasies 1981 Anastasia Billed as: Kathleen Collins. Filmed in 1973; legally her "film debut".
Tarzan, the Ape Man 1981 Jane Parker Won: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
Bolero 1984 Ayre "Mac" MacGillivery
Ghosts Can't Do It 1990 Katie O'Dare Scott
Woman of Desire 1993 Christina Ford
Tommy Boy 1995 Beverly Barish-Burns Callahan Nominated: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
Sunstorm 2001 Victoria Warren
Frozen with Fear 2001 Katherine Sullivan
Horror 101 2001 Miss Allison James
The Master of Disguise 2002 Herself Cameo appearance
Nominated: Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress
Malibu's Most Wanted 2003 Bess Gluckman
Boom 2003 Herself Cameo appearance
Life in the Balance 2004 Kathryn Garr
Crusader 2005 Nicola Markham
Highland Park 2012 Destiny


Program Year Role Notes
Hot Chocolate 1992 BJ Cassidy Television movie
Shattered Image 1994 Helen Allgood Television movie
Wind on Water 1998 Ciel Connolly 3 episodes
The Drew Carey Show 1999 Herself 1 episode
Family Law 2000 Camille Weller 1 episode
Queen of Swords 2000 Mary Rose 1 episode "The Witness"
Murder at the Cannes Film Festival 2000 Thada Pryce Television movie
Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place 2001 Susan Bergen 3 episodes
Lucky 2003 Joan 1 episode
Still Standing 2005 Mrs. Rose Grundy 1 episode
7th Heaven 2003–05 Mrs. Kinkirk 3 episodes
Crusader 2005 Nicola Markham Television movie
Fashion House 2006 Maria Gianni 40 episodes
The Hunt for the I-5 Killer 2011 Seaver Television movie
Chuck 2012 Herself Season 5, Episode 10 "Chuck Versus Bo"
CSI: Miami 2012 Joanna Toring Season 10, Episode 14
Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! 2015 May Wexler Television movie


  1. "John Derek, Beau C Shane – Clark County Marriage Records". Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Video on YouTube
  3. "1981 Yearly Box Office Results – Box Office Mojo". Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  4. "Peyton Manning, Bo Derek, Rob Riggle set to roast Rob Lowe". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 19 August 2016.
  5. "Congressman David Dreier: Gay & Ashamed" Archived December 21, 2005, at the Wayback Machine., Larry
  6. "The Kennedy Center Activity Report for California" Archived May 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Kennedy Center web site
  7. Cottle, Michelle (June 14, 2012). "The GOP's Two-Faced Celeb Bashing of Obama's Parker-Wintour Fundraiser". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  8. "Bo Derek named honorary Green Beret". Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  9. Vallance, Tom (May 25, 1998). "Obituary:John Derek". The Independent. Retrieved January 15, 2012.
  10. 'I'm so happy', says Bo Derek as she opens up for the first time about romance with Sex And The City's John Corbett
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on February 22, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-15.

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