On a scale of one to ten, nobody comes close to perfection than Bo Derek. This blond bombshell with the killer body and finely chiseled features catapulted to stardom as Dudley Moore’s fantasy and object of desire in the 1979 comedy romance flick, 10. While her appearance in this movie lasted for only less than thirty minutes, it left a lasting impression in filmdom and made Bo Derek one of the decade’s most admired and desirable women on the silver screen. Deeply etched in the memory of movie goers at that time is the slow motion sequence that shows her in a revealing bikini that gave justice to her near perfect 35 – 23 ½ – 35 ½ figure while romping on the beach to the classical tune of Maurice Ravel’s Bolero. She exuded so much sex appeal that even the beaded cornrow braids that she sported in 10 became a trend-setting ”sexy look” that was copied by many women all over the world.
A career in the performing arts, and much less, becoming an overnight sensation in the celluloid world was farthest from the mind of this athletic, surf-loving sex symbol who was born as Mary Cathleen Collins to Paul and Norma Collins on November 20, 1956 in Long Beach, California. While growing up, she developed a love for sailing and dirt biking – skills that may have been unwittingly nurtured by her father, who promoted and sold boats and motorcycles for a living. As early as then, she lived with the idea of eventually ending up working in a beachfront surf shop. But as fate would have it, her desire to earn some money to buy a brand new surfboard drove her to accept a modeling job that opened the doors of opportunity to the world of performing arts. In 1976, Cathleen married movie director John Derek who molded her image as the most desirable woman on-stage and introduced her to Hollywood as Bo Derek.
Together with her husband, Bo Derek formed the movie outfit Svengali Productions that churned out a number of films. When her husband passed away in 1998, Bo Derek retreated from the glitzy glamour of Hollywood life to live in the family horse ranch in the outskirts of Santa Ynez in California to pursue her lifelong passion of raising and riding horses. A life well lived guided by a love for God’s creatures both big and small is mirrored in her autobiography published in February of 2002 aptly entitled Riding Lessons: Everything That Matters in Life I Learned from Horses. A staunch animal rights activist and a conservative Republican, she lobbied Congress for the passage of legislation to end the slaughter of horses for gourmet food and helped raised funds for the presidential campaign of George W. Bush.
The desirable physical attributes of Bo Derek is matched only by the bigness of her heart and her capacity to reach out in love to those who have selflessly risked life and limb in the service of their country. Unknown, perhaps to many, she regularly visits wounded and ailing military and war veterans in their sick beds to cheer them up. For her compassionate work, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony Principi awarded Bo Derek the highest honors in 2003 and was named Honorary Green Beret by the Special Forces Association.
Bo supported George H.W. Bush in 1988 and 1992, and campaigned for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, appearing at both Republican conventions.