Bo Derek Was A “10!” How Did This Pop Culture Phenomenon Throw Her Career Away?

The Rise And Fall Of An Icon!

She was the most famous woman in the world. One movie made her an instant Icon – and then she threw it all away…why?

Bo Derek was a pop culture sensation, but I look at what made her an Icon and who may have helped derail her career….

Bo Derek’s life was controversial early on.

She was born Mary Cathleen Collins in Long Beach California in 1956.

She attended Nathaniel Narbonne High School in Harbor City, California, but dropped out before graduating.

As she told David Letterman years later:

“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 in Greece …”

Yes, while in high school she became involved with John Derek, who was 30 years older….the film she did in Greece at that time was called “Fantasies”…more on that in a moment – she married Derek in 1976 when she was 20 years old….

She had small role in the 1977 film “Orca” before she landed the role in the 1979 Dudley Moore comedy “10” and her life changed overnight!

Bo’s Iconic “!0” Moment!

This was the image that made her a sex symbol to the world. Bo running on the beach became the shot that made the film a smash hit worldwide.

Dudley Moore starred as a middle-aged man who finds the ideal woman – “a perfect 10.”

Here’s what she said about that moment:

“It was amazing! I had no career before “10” and then all of a sudden I was able to do pretty much whatever I was able to do in the business.”

And that was her downfall…

Her Playboy cover made the film an even bigger success and cemented her place as the world’s most beautiful woman.

Her Playboy pictorials were hugely successful, and she became America’s new “IT” girl…a pop culture sensation…

Bo’s Disastrous Downfall!

So what happened? Well, let’s take a look at what she did with her stardom next….and see how her love for her husband derailed her career…

As you read, Derek directed her in “Fantasies” when she was 16 years old…it was finally released in 1981 in the wake of “10”‘s success but had horrible reviews and sank quickly.

“Tarzan, the Ape Man”

Bo and her husband made this erotic version of the classic story – here’s the trailer to give you an idea of what to expect:

As you can see, she wasted no time meeting “The Ape Man” while bathing, and things progressed from there…

And then, as you would imagine, they washed her clean and then rubbed her down with white mud…

The reviews were horrible and the film was a failure…the decision to put her into a story for no reason and just parade her around naked didn’t pay off…


Look at that claim at the bottom of the poster!

This 1984 film was also directed by her husband, the film exploring her “sexual awakening”, and her journey around the world to find an ideal first lover to take her virginity.

That plot sounds like the story of her meeting Derek!

Derek won her second Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress of the year after “Tarzan”, and her husband Worst Director. The film was also named the worst film of 1984.

But it didn’t keep her from the cover of Playboy to promote it of course – she was becoming a regular feature in the magazine:

So this seemed to be the choice she made: let her husband direct her in horrible films that bombed, and then pose for Playboy to generate publicity…and it didn’t work.

After a hiatus of 5 years, the couple put out another massive box office bomb.

Ghosts Can’t Do It” was dubbed a “cinematic abomination” by one critic.

“You have my heart…how can I live without my heart”

Yes, Bo says that about her dead husband, so she find a man to have his spirit put into…really…..oh, and she spends time on the beach taking her clothes off:

Derek won her third Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress. The film also won Golden Raspberry Awards for Worst Picture, Worst Director (John Derek), and look at this – Worst Supporting Actor went to Donald Trump!

And that was it…the clothes went back on.

She kept acting sporadically in film and TV, but her days as the world’s most popular sex kitten were long gone.

Her husband died in 1998, and she recently revealed that she is married to “Sex And The City” Actor John Corbett.

I was excited to do a profile on Bo, but the story unfolded in a way I didn’t remember, and it’s a shame that she and her husband chose the path they did…she was at one time the most popular woman in the world:

I also profiled the career of Pamela Anderson, who was also an overnight sensation:

Outside of her Playboy success, she didn’t make it as a movie star either – click here to see her story:

I met Anderson at the Cannes Film Festival when she was revealed as “Barb Wire”…I also shared my “close encounter” with another 90’s sex kitten:

Victoria Silvstedt also had a great run of 90’s erotic films and you can see the best of them by clicking here:

And speaking of the Cannes Film Festival in the 90’s, that’s where I saw this film for the first time:

That’s right: I met Elizabeth Berkley and Director Paul Verhoeven when they showed 20 minutes of the wildness that was “Showgirls”!

Click here to see more about this epic cult film!

If you like these stories, and don’t want to miss any of my “2022 Sex Kitten Countdown” as well, then go to my website’s front page and sign on to follow me – there are NO ads at all, just lots of stories to come about the wild world of exploitation and cult films!

Click here and see the “follow” button on the upper right!

Make sure to subscribe for more of my “2022 Sex Kitten Countdown”! And let me know what you think of Bo Derek’s career – I want to know your thoughts!

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9 replies

  1. Truth be told, Bo Derek bored me. A popular joke in Hollywood was: “What’s10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1? Bo Derek getting older”


  2. She’d have caught all hell for sporting dreadlocks if social media existed in the 1970s. I hadn’t discovered girls in 1979 (I was only 9 when “10” was released). Plus, I’ve only seen “Ghosts Can’t Do It”! It was horrendous.


  3. The horrible movies she made were the culprit. But her having no acting talent would have done her in sooner or later. She’d have ended up in erotic thrillers or no budget comedies.

    Personally, I always thought Olivia D’Abo (introduced in Bolero) was much hotter and had more talent. Thankfully her career is continuing at 53, though she stopped performing nude long ago sadly.

    I’m actually shocked Bolero hasn’t been banned considering D’Abo’s age when she did her full nude scenes. John Derek sure liked them on the younger side.


  4. I thought she was lovely to look at, but her acting was never going to compete with her sexy appearance. She also made some awful choices of film roles.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

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