There probably aren’t a lot of actresses who are also an honorary Green Beret. Bo Derek is one. The model known for risque roles in 80s films like “10” and “Tarzan, the Ape Man” came from a military family and has worked extensively with veterans over many years, garnering her a high honor from the VA. She received her honorary Green Beret on the 50th anniversary of the Special Forces in 2018.
Her father, Paul Collins, served as a radio operator in the Korean War. Her stepfather, Bobby Bass, and her late husband, John Derek, were also veterans.
Bo Derek, American film actress and model visiting a VA hospital in Los Angeles, California (Photo credit: Department of Veterans Affairs)
“Ms. Derek has worked tirelessly to shine the public spotlight on veterans, especially those who have been severely injured while serving this nation,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Dr. James B. Peake said back in 2009. “She has been a good friend of veterans and a bright example of dedicated volunteerism.”
Starting in 2000, Derek was the honorary chair of VA’s National Rehabilitation Special Events, improving public understanding of veterans issues, encouraging veterans to take advantage of VA’s rehabilitative programs and visiting VA medical centers around the country. She chaired many events at The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass Village, Colorado.
“It’s more than just sports, although they’re incredibly fun. You really get to sit down and get to know these heroes on a personal level. It was an honor," she told FOX. The event brings together more than 400 disabled veterans and was most recently held this past April.
She has also gone on USO tours and encourages others to support the military community. “There’s just so much we don’t do for our heroes,” she said.
Actress Bo Derek aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) off Cannes, France, in May 1987. (Photo credit: U.S. Navy)
Ms. Derek was married to John Derek, her co-actor in her breakout film “10,” who was 30 years her senior. John Derek was drafted in 1944 into the United States Army and saw service in the Philippines during the last days of World War II. They remained married until his death from heart failure in 1998.
Born Mary Cathleen Collins, the California native became known as a blonde bombshell in movies like “Fantasies” and “Bolero.” The romantic comedy “10” earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination for New Star of the Year, but she ended up losing to Bette Midler. More recently, she appeared in “CSI: Miami” and “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!” She married fellow actor John Corbett in 2020, with whom she does additional veteran outreach.
“I am so overwhelmed and inspired by the courage all veterans show,” she said in a VA statement. “As an American, I am reassured by VA’s commitment to take care of our veterans. It’s truly an honor for me to be part of that mission.”