It was 1979 when the movie 10 hit the big screen, launching Bo Derek, a sexy blonde with braids, into overnight stardom. "Suddenly, everybody—and their white sisters—were wearing cornrows, trying to look just like her," Oprah says.
Bo's photo was everywhere—on the the covers of magazines, as well as respected newspapers. "Walter Cronkite was talking about me on the evening news," Bo says. "It was a bit overwhelming."
At the time 10 hit the big screen, Bo had met and married a man 30 years her senior. Bo met John Derek, a 46-year-old director, when she was just 16 years old. "We lived together since I was 17," she says. "But we had to live in Europe for a few years, because I was underage."
Bo says her parents tried to forbid her from dating John, but she says they couldn't be stopped. "They were not happy," she says. "But I have to say, when I was 17, 16, I thought I knew it all."
Adding to the drama, John was married to actress Linda Evans when he first started dating Bo. "I'll never forgive myself for being part of that," Bo says. "Sometimes we do things that don't fit with who we think we are, and I can't believe I was part of that."
Despite early obstacles, Bo and John's romance stood the test of time. The couple was married for 22 years when John died in 1998 at the age of 71. For the first time, Bo says she was alone. "I'd never dated," she says. "I just decided I would wait until I had that moment of being crazy in love, or not at all. I had a great life with all my friends."
After five years, Bo fell in love for the second time. Today, the 54-year-old actress and horse enthusiast lives outside of the spotlight with her longtime love, Sex and the City star John Corbett.
John describes Bo as optimistic and down to earth. "I've never heard her say a bad thing about anybody," he says. "There was a long time there where I thought, 'Nobody can be this sweet.' But she really is. She's one of the smartest people. She speaks four or five languages. ... She's kind of a walking encyclopedia."
The couple lives on a ranch in rural California, where Bo spends most weekends horseback riding with her sisters and niece. "It's a very peaceful place," Bo says. "We don’t have any help around; it's completely private. I like keeping up the place. I like the chores."
Bo and John have been together for nine years—is marriage in their future? "I've never been married," John says. "I think marriage is great, maybe one day we'll get married."
"We're not going to have children, so it just hasn't come up yet," Bo says.
Bo was and still is considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, but she says she has a grounded outlook. "It's about the way the bones line up," she says. "I was born with it."
It's been more than 30 years since she ran down the beach in her iconic, nude swimsuit, but Bo says she tries not to be concerned with aging. "I tend not to worry about things I can't do anything about," she says. "It's not in my nature to spend too much time thinking. But sometimes I see photographs of myself, and I jump a little."
What age has brought Bo, she says, is a better understanding of who she really is. "That doesn't mean I have it all together and that I don't fall apart sometimes," she says. "But that's got to be the trade-off for your physical deterioration—your mind gets better and you're happy about yourself."
Printed from Oprah.com on Saturday, December 7, 2013