John Derek Biography (1926-1998)
Born Derek Harris, August 12, 1926, in Hollywood, CA; died of heart failure,May 22, 1998, in Santa Maria, CA. Actor, director, producer, and screenwriter.
Derek is remembered more for his marriages than he is for his own career in the entertainment business. Noting that he was "known for marrying beautiful actresses," the Los Angeles Times reported that he "was often accused of exploiting them in his largely unsuccessful films." His wives included PatiBehrs, Ursula Andress, Linda Evans, and Bo Derek. Some in the industry referred to him as a Svengali, although his last wife, Bo, contended that was notthe case. He helped Bo become an overnight celebrity with her appearance in the 1979 movie 10. He remained involved in her career as he featured her in some of the other films he directed, including Tarzan, the Ape Man, Ghosts Can't Do It, and Bolero. Derek's decision to featurehis much-younger wife in explicit nude scenes in some of their movies together sparked controversy.
Derek began his career as an actor and ultimately appeared in about thirty movies. He found success and was called "Hollywood's find of 1949." He appearedin Knock on Any Door, All the King's Men, Run for Cover, The Ten Commandments, and Exodus. His made his debut as a producer and director with Nightmare in the Sun in 1963. A few years later he presented Once before I Die, a film which he produced, directed,filmed, and scripted. It was in the 1980s that he began directing Bo in motion pictures. He had married her after she turned eighteen in 1974. In responseto claims that he exploited his wife, he once told the Los Angeles Times: "Look, God assembled her brilliantly, and audiences want to see her nude." Although 10 was a hit, Derek's Bolero did not fare well withaudiences. The movie, which Derek wrote and directed, received some unintended reactions from viewers. Noting that the movie "ran into trouble over the extent of [Bo's] sex scenes," the New York Times added that the scenes"reportedly provoked audiences into fits of laughter."
- Actor, Director, Producer, Screenwriter
- Birth Details
- August 12, 1926
- Hollywood, California, United States
- Death Details
- May 22, 1998
- Santa Maria, California, United States
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES
- International Motion Picture Almanac, Quigley Publishing Co., 1997.
- Chicago Tribune, May 23, 1998, section 1, p. 23.
- Los Angeles Times, May 23, 1998, p. A22.
- New York Times, May 24, 1998, p. A37.
- Washington Post, May 24, 1998, p. B8.