A patriot to the end, passed on July 4th. Some knew her as a Prima Ballerina and Leo Tolstoy's grandniece. Others as the first in John Derek's line of gorgeous wives; still others remember her as the elegant Mrs. Lucius Lindley. But we all remember Pati as a great lady with a huge heart, many passions, and an amazing sense of adventure!
Her journey began in 1922 as the daughter of Prince Andre Behrs, a colonel in the Czar's royal cavalry. A man of principles, he had refused to lead a pogrom so the family was forced to escape Russia with nothing and travel to Paris where they settled. Pati was so proud of her six foot six father, but sadly, he passed away when she was just 11, leaving the family penniless. As fate would have it a Jewish doctor paid for the funeral... he was alive because Pati's father refused to lead the pogrom. But still, at such a young age, Pati was forced to support herself and her mother and found the means to do so ... through her first passion ... dance.
Then came the War and Occupied France. Pati survived dancing atop a baby grand in Parisian nightclubs. Pati and her mother also did all they could, during this terrifying time, to hide the Russian Jews and Gypsies from the Nazis. Years later while visiting Paris, her two children met some of these grateful survivors and were regaled with the stories of their mother's courage and compassion. When the War ended and the Americans liberated Paris, Pati's love affair with the Stars and Stripes began.
So no one was surprised when a Hollywood talent scout offered her a contract and she jumped at the chance to come to the States, where she met, married, and nine years later divorced actor John Derek. In 1950, Pati and John's first child, Russell, was born with serious health problems. As a result Pati became good friends with their pediatrician Dr. Lucius Lindley. By the 60s, Russell was doing much better and they lost touch. However, Lucius always remembered Pati as one of the most beautiful and brilliant women he had ever known, so after his wife passed, he tracked Pati down through her poodle club. Then, right before they were married, Lucius discovered that he had cancer. Pati stuck by him and together they beat back the dreaded disease for nearly a dozen years. But the cancer returned with debilitating force and Pati dedicated all her remarkable energy to caring for her beloved Lucius and making his last years as beautiful and special as possible.
When she finally she lost Dr. Lindley, Pati embarked on what would become her next great love: sailing the high seas, meeting new friends, and filling her heart with joy and laughter. Of course she enjoyed the beauty of nature, the dancing and cards, but she kept returning to sea because of the friends she loved and cherished so very much. Pati touched the lives of so many people all across the world. She was a woman of passions ... and with that passion came perfection. No matter what Pati decided to do, she became the best at it - from dance to pistols to poodles to becoming a Bridge Life Master- Pati was a champion and always did it her way. Pati grew up in France, lived in Spain and Ireland for a time, traveled extensively and, in the last years of her life, cruised around the world 8 times. But she always loved this country more than anywhere else on earth. So it is fitting that Pati, great American patriot, should have gone out with a bang on the Fourth Of July!
She was a real firecracker! Pati Behrs Derek Lindley lived a truly full, rich and extraordinarily life. She survived all the men in her life, including her own son Russell Andre Derek. Pati is survived by her daughter and best friend Sean Catherine Derek. Now Pati has set sail for her next great adventure and we will all miss her style, spunk and her amazing grace. God bless you Pati ... and anchors away!
Published in Los Angeles Times on Jul. 23, 2004.
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Born Pati Behrs Eristoff to Prince Andre Behrs of Russia. Worked as an actress in small roles before marrying John Derek in 1951. They had two children: Russell & Sean Catherine before divorcing in 1957. She then married Dr. Lucas Lindley. She was the grand neice of Leo Tolstoy. Her hobbies included cruising the world and she was a Bridge Life Master.
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She is not buried at Conejo Mountain Memorial Park.
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