Bo Derek is an icon of the film and modeling world, and has had a career spanning more than half a century. But she’s perhaps best known for her early work in movies like “10” and as a famous pin up model. Derek is currently married to actor John Corbett, with whom she’s been together for 18 years. But long before she and Corbett met, Bo was married to her long time husband, actor John Derek. And despite staying together with him for a large chunk of her life, the beginning of their relationship was a huge scandal. Join Facts Verse, as we present: Bo Derek Still Regrets Her Affair Started at 17 Years Old.
Bo Derek was born Mary Cathleen Collins, and in 1973 she was a high school student, hoping to one day make it in the world of modeling and acting. Yet, unlike most high schoolers, Bo’s dream was about to being. She was given an offer to star in a film called Fantasies, filming that year in Greece. But agreeing to the part meant she wouldn’t be able to continue her studies, at least not for that year. Bo felt like there was an obvious choice for her. She would drop out of high school to chase after her dreams of becoming a star.
However, the trip to Greece became an extended stay, for decidedly non-acting reasons. Bo, who was only 16 when she agreed to do the film, and 17 when production started, fell in love with the director of the film, John Derek. And while falling in love on a movie set is a fairly common occurrence, their relationship was troublesome, for starters, because she was under 18, and he was 46. Not to mention the fact that he was married at the time. The scandalous affair rocked the tabloids, and it became clear that not only was it an ethical quandary, but also a legal issue as well.
Trouble on set
The shady behavior began when John Derek came up with several sexually charged and risqué shots that would feature Bo in the movie, which amped up the sexual tension on set, as well as between them. He even featured brief nude shots of the 16 year old, something that would never be allowed today. But, as Bo became smitten with her director, she minded this overt sexualization less. To her, it was part of his courtship, and she fell in love with him as they filmed. By the middle of production, when Bo was 17 (though still underage) the two began a full fledged affair. The wild thing is that not only was John already married to actress Linda Evans, but Linda was actually on set with the two, working on the film! Once word reached Linda that the illicit affair was happening, she immediately flew back to the United States to file for divorce from John. This of course left him open to fully pursue his new relationship with Bo.
However, once filming of the movie finished, the two moved to Germany. But not because they wanted a new and romantic vacation to start things off…
The Legal Issue
The pair had to go to Germany after filming ended because they literally couldn’t go back to California. Or, rather, they could, but John would be arrested for statutory rape. Since Bo was under the state age of consent, John could have been charged for dating her. And reportedly, one of her agents back in California had declared he was ready to press charges on his client’s behalf. So John and Bo decided to flee to Germany and live there until Bo turned 18. Then they’d make the move back to the United States where they could enjoy their relationship and not be breaking the law.
The legal system and general public weren’t the only entities who didn’t approve of Bo’s relationship with John, who was decades older than her. Bo’s parents were exceedingly disapproving and suspicious of the affair. At least, they were at first. In an interview with Interview Magazine in 2016, Bo talked about the affair and how her parents felt at the time. She said that they were very upset. She admitted feeling like, at age 17, she knew what she was doing, and ‘had it all together.’ But decades later, when she looks back at the situation, even when she looks at pictures of herself from that era, she realizes why people were so angry about the relationship. Still, claims Derek, she always checked in with her parents, and she flew home by herself several times, to make sure they could see that not only was she ok, but she was also of sound mind, and not being coerced into the relationship. She said that after a while, they realized she was genuinely in love, and seemed to warm to the idea.
Back in the States
Eventually, Bo turned 18, and the two were legally allowed to be dating in the U.S. So they moved back from Germany to California. Many people suspected that Bo would, at that point, have fallen out of love with the much older man. They assumed it was a fling that was triggered by the intimacy of a director and actor relationship on a film that was sexually charged. However, that was not the case. The two were as in love as ever, and immediately set about planning a wedding. They got married in 1976. And with every passing year over the next couple of decades, they proved the naysayers wrong by staying together. In fact, it was only John’s 1998 death that ended the marriage. The two stayed married and in love for more than two decades, which was surely a sign that their relationship, despite how it started, was eventually a legit one.
John was Bo’s Protector
In the early days of Bo Derek’s career, when she was a young, up and coming model and actress, she understandably was receiving a lot of attention. And much of that was unwanted attention from men with less than admirable attention. Bo understood that this was all part of being a famous person with a gorgeous face and body. But still, she felt uncomfortable with a lot of the attention. As such, she found herself relieved to have John in her life. She has said that there were a lot of men who found John intimidating, and thus learned to leave her alone because they feared his wrath. So John acted as a protector of sorts in the early days of their relationship. She has even mentioned going on auditions and having producers blatantly try to make out with her. But she said that even her mom had taught her early on that that wasn’t acceptable, saying “My mother taught me at a young age to kick them in the nuts.” So clearly Derek was also able to fend for herself in many way
At the time, Bo was a young starlet who fell in love with a director. And while she was certainly aware that he was married, her concern wasn’t for Linda Evans, his soon to be ex-wife. But now that Derek is a lot older and wiser, she looks back on the affair with some regret. She has said in interviews that she regrets being a reason for the breakup of a marriage. She’s referred to said breakup as a horrible thing, and claims that even today the thought of it still breaks her heart. This is despite the fact that she remained with John for the rest of his life, and the two made decades worth of happy memories together. And while she’s certainly not regretful of those aspects, she hates the fact that they had to come at the expense of someone else’s heartbreak.
She has also spoken about Linda Evans and what she went through. She referred to Evans as a beautiful human, saying Evans didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. Bo says that not only is she forever sorry to Linda, but that she refuses to forgive herself for the affair. She says that she learned her lesson, and would never make the same mistake again. Of course, now that she’s in her 60’s and happily married, it doesn’t seem like that similar of a circumstance would come up. But it’s nice to see that she has perspective on the situation and feels remorse for being a homewrecker when she was 17.
One surprising aspect of the story is that when Bo was shooting footage for her documentary, called “Bo Derek: In My Own Words” she asked Evans to be interviewed. And perhaps even more surprising? Evans accepted the invitation. In response, Bo said that she never expected Linda would actually say yes. Derek admitted to being blown away by the gesture. She said that the interview made her rehash all the painful moments that involved hurting Linda, but that she has always been incredibly kind to Derek. She guessed that perhaps Linda still had things she needed to get off of her chest, and talking about them in the documentary helped the healing process even more than simply time elapsing.
Bo Derek has also been able to look back at the affair and subsequent relationship through the lens of the #MeToo era. She says that she’s grateful that John wasn’t the type of perverted man who was simply taking advantage of a young girl because of his power over her. (Though it should be noted that adding nude scenes for a 16-year-old actress as you direct her in a movie, then starting a relationship is a pretty clear cut example of grooming, and wouldn’t be tolerated today.) But Derek has always considered him a good man, and says that he is unlike the MeToo abusers that have been brought to light in recent years.
Now it’s time to hear from you. Do you think it was wrong for director John Derek to start dating his 17-year-old actress? Or does the fact that they got married and stayed together sort of justify his actions? Let us know in the comments section below!