The Doppelganger Wives of John Derek

John Derek (born Derek Delevan Harris; August 12, 1926 – May 22, 1998) was an American actor, director and photographer. He appeared in such films as Knock on Any Door, All the King’s Men, and Rogues of Sherwood Forest. He was also known for launching the career of his fourth wife, Bo Derek.

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This fella had a very distinct taste in a specific look when it came to women.

Derek married Turkish-born prima ballerina Pati Behrs Eristoff in 1948. They had a son, Russell Andre (1950–1999), who was paralyzed in a 1969 motorcycle accident, and a daughter, Sean Catherine (born 1953), who later wrote a memoir titled Cast of Characters, published in 1982, about their dysfunctional relationship. Derek walked out on his wife and family in 1955 after meeting 19-year-old aspiring Swiss actress Ursula Andress, who spoke almost no English when they met. In 1957, after finalizing his divorce from Behrs, he married Andress in a quickie Las Vegas ceremony, but she left him in 1965 for French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo. Derek subsequently became involved with American actress Linda Evans, at the time starring in television’s The Big Valley, who reduced her appearances on the show to spend more time with him, and financed his alimony and child support payments to Behrs, as he had quit acting by then to pursue photography and directing. They married in Mexico in 1968, with Sean as a witness. In 1973 Derek, Evans and 16-year-old high school dropout Mary Cathleen Collins traveled to the Greek island of Mykonos to make the film And Once Upon a Time (unreleased until 1981, under the title Fantasies). During filming, Derek and Collins began an affair. Evans returned to the states and filed for divorce in 1974, but Derek and Collins stayed in Europe until she turned 18 in November of that year, in order to avoid statutory rape charges. Collins became known to the public as Bo Derek following their marriage on June 10, 1976 in Las Vegas and achieved international fame in 1979 with her role in the Blake Edwards film 10. The couple remained together until John died in 1998.

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From left to right: Ursula Andress, Linda Evans and Bo Derek.

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