Making a splash comes naturally to Bo Derek, who famously made hearts race while running on the beach in a nude one-piece with beaded braids in the 1979 film “10.”
“’10’ for me was a small part,” the 62-year-old told Fox News. “I’m in the movie for about 10 minutes. The movie is Dudley Moore and the legendary, gorgeous Julie Andrews. I had a little tiny part, and I was happy to go to Mexico. That’s all I expected out of that movie. When it opened, my life changed overnight. And all of a sudden, to be on the cover of all the magazines and have the great Walter Cronkite talking about you on the evening news, was a big deal.”
Derek’s brief appearance in “10” made her an instant sex symbol and the sultry image made a lasting impact in Hollywood history.
“It wasn’t that big of a problem for me, because I never took it seriously,” the actress recalled about her pinup status. “… It was always just a job, like you put on your uniform. Back then, it was a time where we had to cross boundaries in sexuality and sensuality in movies. Whose gonna do a nude scene first? Who's going to do this first? Now, you look back and what was all the fuss about?”
But the star's proudest role is that of an advocate. Her shampoo line for canines named Bo Derek Pet Care supports retired military working dogs.
“Military working dogs give us everything,” she said. “There are still things that no matter what science accomplishes, there are still things that a dog senses, which can save lives. Whether it’s detecting explosives, catching bad guys — we use them. … They’re just incredible creatures.”
In 2003, Derek was granted the highest award offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for her efforts supporting American veterans. According to VA, Derek was an honorary chair of its National Rehabilitation Special Events for several years, which aims to improve public awareness of veteran issues, all while encouraging participants and visiting VA medical centers around the country.
At the time, VA shared Derek goes on USO tours to support troops and works with the Special Forces Association, which named her an honorary Green Beret.
Her father, Paul Collins, was a radio operator during the Korean War. Both her stepfather and late husband, actor John Derek, were veterans.
“All the men in my family served in the military,” said Derek. “I spent eight incredible years as the Chairperson for the Disabled Veterans, all their rehabilitation events. … They’re so inspiring, these young men and women, and what they’ve sacrificed. These events are important because there’s nothing like competitive sport to lift a spirit. And… sports are good for physical rehabilitation. But for the spirit, it’s fantastic.”
Derek and John met in 1974 when she was just 17 — he cast her in a film he was directing, titled “And Once Upon a Time.” Later that year, he married her after divorcing actress Linda Evans. After Derek catapulted to fame with “10,” John continued to promote his wife’s blossoming career. They remained together until his death in 1998 at age 71 from heart failure.
Derek found love again three years later with actor John Corbett, 57. The two have been dating for nearly 18 years.
“I think we just keep our relationship day to day,” she said. “I understand when he goes off on location, he understands when I travel. We have all our independence and freedom. We just enjoy spending our time together."
Despite their lasting courtship, Derek said they’re not in a hurry to walk down the aisle anytime soon.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever get married,” she said. “We don’t have children. There isn’t that tradition to follow. Marriage, I don’t know. It feels funny. It’s not necessary for us. We’re not proving our love, we’re not starting a new generation together of families coming together. We almost got married… We were on a funky, horrible boat in the Amazon, and I thought it might be fun to be able to later tell you… that we got married on a funky little boat in the Amazon, that the captain married us. Then we decided, no that was just too weird.”
Derek is about to embark on her latest project — producing a history film about the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots during WWII. She's also diving into her latest role — that of runway model for a day.
She was one of several celebrities who made their mark on the catwalk Thursday night for the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women Red Dress Collection during New York Fashion Week. Macy’s is one of the sponsors of the annual event, which helps shine a spotlight on the issue of heart disease in women.
“The American Heart Association is close to my heart and it should be close to all of our hearts,” said Derek. “Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. One in three women will die of heart disease. That’s very close to my heart.”
The California native, along with other stars, wore gowns created by world-renowned and up-and-coming designers to raise awareness about heart and stroke as the number one killer of women.
Derek was also accompanied by Flynn, the bichon frise who won best in show at the Westminster Kennel Club in 2018.
The actress said the goal is to raise awareness on how pets can impact one’s health.
“People with pets have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol,” she said. “All are these good health benefits. [And] I love pets. I love dogs, in particular. I’m really happy to be doing this and help spread this message that having a dog can really help your health.”
The cause hits close to home for Derek. About 10 years ago, she had endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart’s inner lining, which is usually caused by bacteria. The condition can cause complications if not treated early, including stroke and seizure, among others.
“I have mitral valve prolapse, and I came back from China on a wildlife trafficking trip and came back with a blood infection that didn’t sound that very important, but it was,” Derek explained. “It caused something called endocarditis of my heart. I’m completely fine, but if I hadn’t been aware of a little quirky pre-existing condition, it could have been very serious. Because I was aware of it, my doctor was aware of it, I’m perfectly fine.”
The star admitted she wasn’t a fan of hitting the gym to stay in shape but has found other ways to stay moving while promoting good heart health.
“For me, I swim,” said Derek. “I’ve always been involved in sports. I hate exercise, working out. The formal working out part, I don’t like it. I make every excuse not to do it. I don’t get the endorphin rush and the high that everybody talks about. … I had back surgery about five years ago because I’ve been riding horses for so long. The surgeon said if I get in a pool in 10 days then I don’t even need physical therapy.”
“If I have to do something I like, it’s the anti-movement being weightless in water that counteracts all the high impact that I’ve done all my life,” she continued. “It’s great exercise. It’s fantastic. Now I’ve taken up open water swimming. I go with a girlfriend once a year to a pretty place, and we do a swim race.”
Derek hopes her appearance will inspire women everywhere.
“Women… we can do anything,” she said. “We can accomplish anything. If we’re aware [of heart disease], we can make sure it doesn’t get us. We can prevent so much of it. I hope it brings awareness. I think that the women coming together will help show unity and a commitment for our sisters.”