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Bo Derek (born November 20, 1956) is an American film actress and model.
Derek was born Mary Cathleen Collins in Long Beach, California. She is of Irish, German, Dutch and Welsh descent. Her father, Paul Collins, was a Hobie Cat executive, and her mother, Norma Bass, was a make-up artist and hairdresser to Ann-Margret. Derek's parents divorced, and her mother married American stunt performer Bobby Bass.
Derek started modeling to pay for a new surf board, and after a few shoots and a deodorant advertisement, she found she had a knack for performance. She secured a Hollywood agent, and on the audition trail met director John Derek, 30 years her senior. John filed for divorce from his wife, actress Linda Evans, and John and Bo moved to Germany to avoid John being charged with statutory rape under U.S. law due to Bo's being only 16. The couple returned to America soon after Bo's 18th birthday, and they married in 1976. They remained married until his death in 1998.
Her first on screen performance was in Fantasies (1973). She made her second film 1977's Orca: the Killer Whale, in which her character's leg was bitten off when the whale attacked her home on a pier.
Derek first came to prominence when she co-starred in the 1979 Blake Edwards film 10, in which Dudley Moore's character is torn between his love for Julie Andrews and his fascination with Derek. Her appearance shot her to instant stardom and status as a sex symbol. Her beaded and plaited cornrow hairstyle in the film was widely copied and became eponymous. As a result of the film, Bo received a Golden Globe nomination for new star of the year, but lost to Bette Midler for The Rose.
Some of Bo Derek's subsequent films were not well-received by either the public or critics. For the 1981 film Tarzan, the Ape Man, the producers of the film were actually 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 himself. She followed this film with the sexually charged Bolero and a subsequent role in her husband's production Ghosts Can't Do It.
She made the first of many appearances in Playboy, starting with the March 1980 issue. Her first pictorial (among others) was photographed by then husband John, on a secluded beach along an unnamed area of the Colorado River. The twelve page spread featured a few with her and her pet greyhound together jogging and sunbathing, as well as her sailing and swimming in the river, all nude. She appeared on the cover in a bikini.
She has the dubious honor of winning three Golden Raspberry Worst Actress Awards for Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), Bolero (1984) and Ghosts Can't Do It (1990), and was nominated in 2000 as the "Worst Actress of the Century". However, she subsequently made a respectable showing as Jamie Kennedy's mom and Ryan O'Neal's wife in Malibu's Most Wanted (2003). In addition, she can be seen on TV in Fashion House playing one of the main characters, notorious fashion designer Maria Gianni. Derek was also a judge at the 2006 Miss Universe pageant.
Derek is a conservative Republican who 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. Derek has also appeared at public events with Republican Congressman David Dreier of Southern California.
When White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten was asked about the nature of his relationship with Bo Derek on the April 30, 2006 edition of Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, Bolten identified Derek as a "friend" and as a "strong supporter of the President."
A horse lover and riding enthusiast since childhood, she is the owner of Andalusian horses and is a spokesperson for the Animal Welfare Institute's national 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).
Derek currently serves on the California Horse Racing Board.
Bo Derek routinely visits hospitalized veterans. She is National Honorary Chairperson for Veterans Affairs' National Rehabilitation Special Events. Derek attended the 17th annual Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic held in Snowmass Village, Colorado. In 2003, Derek was presented with the VA's highest honor by Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi. Derek also goes on United Service Organizations (USO) tours. The Special Forces Association named her an honorary Green Beret.
Derek's father, Paul Collins, was a radio operator during the Korean War, and both her stepfather and her late husband, John Derek, were also veterans.
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