Then & Now


Bo Derek, actor

IN 1979, SCIENTISTS identified a major factor in the rise of global warming. No, it wasn’t the hole in the ozone layer. It was the sight of bronzed bikini beauty Bo Derek running along a beach in slo-mo that sent temperatures soaring in cinemas around the globe.

The movie was Blake Edwards’ 10, starring Dudley Moore as a dissatisfied married man, and Derek as the titular 10. On a scale of one to 10, male moviegoers voted Bo top film totty, while women rushed to their hairdressers to get the Bo Derek cornrow hairstyle.

These days, however, Bo Derek’s attention has turned from sun-drenched beaches to melting ice-floes, as she tries to combat the effects of global warming on the world’s polar bear population. She’s joined forces with Richard Branson to try and save Canada’s 20,000 polar bears, as part of an organisation called WildAid.

Last week, the pair made a much-publicised appearance in Toronto to announce their campaign; they’re also campaigning to stop the hunting of sharks to make shark-fin soup.

Bo Derek is of course no danger to nature, red in tooth and claw. She appeared au naturel in the soft-core film Fantasies, and had a small part in Orca, a Jaws-style B-movie about a vengeful killer whale. She was also the scantily-clad prey of another wild jungle creature in Tarzan – the Ape Man. Her book, Riding Lessons, tells of her passion for horse riding and breeding.

She was born Mary Cathleen Collins in California, a perfect mix of Irish, German and Dutch. She met actor/director John Derek when she was just 16 – he was 30 years her senior – and they began an affair (he was married to actress Linda Gray and had been married to another bikini sex symbol, Ursula Andress).

The couple married when she was 18, and remained together until his death in 1998 aged 73. She met actor John Corbett at an Oscars party in 2002, and the couple recently celebrated their 10th anniversary – by stepping out to an Oscars party.

In 2000, Bo came out as a conservative, campaigning for GeorgeW Bush in the 2000 US presidential elections, but her current wildlife campaign brings her closer to Al Gore territory.

“Right now there’s such a debate on climate change over who is responsible, the science of it,” she told CTV in Canada. “There’s a lot of work to be done and I realise that. But in the meantime we must save polar bears and sharks.”