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Bo Derek: "10" Into One

On her own two years after her husband's death, Bo Derek, the original "10," is forging a new path.
Alysse Minkoff
From the Print Edition:
Bo Derek, Jul/Aug 00

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But Bo's interest in films continues as well. She has only made about a dozen movies since the 1970s, but she has two features slated for this year: Family Man, a comedy starring Nicholas Cage and Tea Leoni, and Frozen with Fear, a thriller, as well as a made-for-cable movie for the E! Entertainment channel called Murder at the Cannes Film Festival.

Bo is eager to take on new challenges, including people's perceptions of her. "I think people don't understand how seriously I would like to go back to work, because I never have. So from what feedback I'm getting, people aren't quite sure that I'm committed. Which is understandable, because I have never been before. In a way, it has always come to me. I've had it easy in the business because normally, people have to go through a lot of suffering and heartbreak." Pausing for a moment, she adds, "I'm excited and I am nervous. But people are kind and I'm enjoying the work I am doing and people seem pleased that I am a professional and not a diva. I don't know where they got that impression; probably because I only made my own films so they assumed that I took really good care of myself and pampered myself. Our dressing rooms on Tarzan were a boy with an umbrella who would follow us around. We had no dressing rooms. Yeah, I am quite low maintenance."

Bo shares a home in the Santa Ynez Valley with her sister Kerry and her husband, Phillip, and their two small children (with whom she gladly plays the doting aunt). Adding to the happy crowd are her two German Shepherds. Bo's love of dogs is longstanding.

"I know that she is a wonderful person because she loves all animals, especially dogs," says her long-time friend, casino visionary Steve Wynn. "We have one thing in common: neither of us have ever met a dog we didn't like. Most people think of all of her other wonderful qualities, but that is what Bo Derek means to me."

Bo lives far from Hollywood by choice. "I have always preferred to live in smaller communities where people accept you for who you are. Up here, it's more important how I ride than what films I make. People are much more critical about your horsemanship. I'm already an outsider. In this valley you should pretty much be into quarter horses and I'm already the weirdo that shows up with these fancy horses," referring to her Portuguese Lusitanos. "Lusitanos are the national horse in Portugal and they're used for all their ranch work and fighting bulls. Very athletic. I got into horses about 20 years ago and really got hooked on the Portuguese horses. They're hot-blooded, but they're very noble. They're the old war-horses. They're very brave and to me the greatest athletes. A good all-around horse. Certainly other breeds will do one thing better, but I don't think any horse does everything else as well."

Out on the trail, completely in her element, she explains her passion. "It's not the riding, or that I'm getting from here to there. I don't have to ride. I can just go out and groom a horse or muck manure. There is something about it. When you have a horse that even recognizes you, or does something that is extremely generous or kind it's really, really rare. A dog would leave his pack to be with a human. He will choose a human over his own species. Horses would never do that. Never. Most of the time we're a big inconvenience in their life. They would rather just be out in the herd nibbling away and grazing and having their own interactions with each other. We separate them. We pull them out. Most of the time we make their lives miserable, so when you develop a bond with your horse, it's very special. It doesn't happen very often."   Bo rides off, alone and content. While Hollywood pundits muse if the milestone of 40 marks the death zone of a woman's viability as a sex symbol, the enduring appeal of Bo Derek will no doubt prove them wrong.

A frequent contributor to Cigar Aficionado, Alysse Minkoff lives in Beverly Hills, California.

Women of CA gallery

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