Bo Derek Is an Honorary Green Beret

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In 1973, Bo Derek became famous as the bodacious, teenaged muse of director John Derek. Since then, she’s remained in the spotlight… and even became an honorary Green Beret!

Bo Derek’s Career

Born Mary Cathleen Collins, Bo Derek was raised in Long Beach, somewhat adjacent to Hollywood. Her mother was Ann-Margaret’s hairdresser and her stepfather was a stuntman. But Bo would find her own fame she was just 16. This after striking up an affair with the director John Derek. He was 30 years her senior.

At the time, John was married to the actress Linda Evans. In 1973, he left her to elope with Bo in Germany — where he could evade statutory rape laws. Bo dropped out of school to accompany him overseas, although they did not officially marry until 1976 when Bo was 18.

“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…”

— Bo Derek on Late Night with David Letterman

That movie, Fantasies, was filmed with Greece and starred Bo as the highly sexualized lead: a casting which would set the tone for her career. Most studios passed, and Fantasies remained unreleased until 1981. Like the rest of Bo and John’s collaborations — including Tarzan, the Ape Man, Bolero, and Ghosts Can’t Do It — it received negative reviews.

Bo’s own breakthrough would come without John, in the 1979 romcom 10. Produced and directed by Blake Edwards, it cast Bo alongside Dudley Moore and Julie Andrews and became one of the biggest box office earners that year.

And though Bo never nabbed another bona-fide hit, she has remained in the public eye for decades.

Bo Derek Today

Bo Derek remained with John Derek until his death in 1998 from heart failure. In 2002, the widowed Bo was set up on a blind date with fellow actor John Corbett — of Sex and the City and My Big Fat Greek Wedding fame — and they fell in love.

Bo and Corbett married in 2020 and live together on a ranch in Santa Barbara.

Bo, the Green Beret

Many of the men in Bo Derek’s life were veterans. Her father, Paul Collins, was a radio operator during the Korean War. Her stepfather, Bobby Bass, was a paratrooper, and her late husband John Derek served in the final days of World War II, having been drafted in 1944.

In light of their service, Bo Derek has volunteered as a chair of the VA’s National Rehabilitation Special Events, a board which seeks to raise awareness of veterans issues. She also regularly attends on USO tours regularly and works with the Special Forces Association, according to the VA.

It was through the Special Forces Association that Bo Derek earned an honorary Green Beret in 2018.

“I am so overwhelmed and inspired by the courage all veterans show, especially those whom I have met through VA’s special events,” Bo said at the time. “As an American, I am reassured by VA’s commitment to take care of our veterans. It’s truly an honor for me to be part of that mission.”

READ MORE: John Corbett to Reprise ‘Sex and the City’ Role for HBO Sequel ‘And Just Like That’

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