John Derek

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John Derek

Original Name Derek Delevan Harris
Santa Maria, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Death 22 May 1998 (aged 71)
Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend
Memorial ID 5860416 View Source
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Actor, Director, Screenwriter, and Photographer. A strikingly handsome man, he is remembered for his marriages to glamorous starlets and for launching the career of his last wife, Bo Derek. Born Derek Delevan Harris in Hollywood, California, he was the son of actor/director Lawson Harris and actress Dolores Johnson. In 1944 he began his film career, with minor roles in "Since You Went Away" and "I'll Be Seeing You" before being drafted into the US Army and serving in the Philippines during the last days of World War II. After the war, he got his big break as the unregenerate killer 'Nick (Pretty Boy) Romano' in "Knock on Any Door" (1949, with Humphrey Bogart), followed by a supporting role as the son of Broderick Crawford in "All the King's Men" (1949), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the role of 'Robin Hood' in "Rogues of Sherwood Forest" (1950, with Alan Hale). In 1951 he married his first wife, Russian prima ballerina Pati Behrs, a grandniece of Leo Tolstoy. He also appeared as 'Joshua' in "The Ten Commandments" (1956) and as 'Taha' in "Exodus" (1960). But when he found himself featured increasingly as a hero or villain in a string of unimpressive B-movies, he decided to become a film director. He directed his second wife Ursula Andress in two films, "Nightmare in the Sun" (1965) and "Once Before I Die' (1966), both of which he also starred, and third wife Linda Evans in "Childish Things" (1969). He also worked as a director of four films with fourth wife, Bo Derek, in "Fantasies" (1981, which he also wrote), "Tarzan the Ape Man" (1981), "Bolero" (1984, which he also wrote), and "Ghosts Can't Do It" (1990, which he also wrote), the latter being his last movie. An accomplished photographer, he photographed the last three of his four wives (at different times) for nude spreads in Playboy magazine. He died of a heart attack due to cardiovascular disease in Santa Monica, California at the age of 71.

Bio by: William Bjornstad

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Ron Moody
  • Added: 19 Oct 2001
  • Find a Grave Memorial 5860416
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Derek (12 Aug 1926–22 May 1998), Find a Grave Memorial ID 5860416, ; Maintained by Find a Grave Cremated, Ashes given to family or friend.