biography

Born Derek Harris in Hollywood on August 12, 1926, actor/director John Derek was practically born into show business with a father who was a director and a mother who was a silent screen actress. With his matinee-idol looks, Derek was a natural for films and got his start in bit parts as a teenager. His first role came in the wartime tear-jerker Since You Went Away (1944), the film in which Guy Madison made his debut. After military service and a few years of small roles, Derek signed with Columbia Pictures in 1948. He was immediately cast in two Columbia film noir thrillers: Knock on Any Door (1949; with Humphrey Bogart) and All the King's Men (1949; with Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, and Joanne Dru). Columbia later used Derek in swashbucklers such as Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950) and Prince of Pirates (1953). Derek left Columbia in 1953 to freelance for other studios, including Republic, Allied Artists, and United Artists. By the late 1950s, with no studio to fall back on, Derek's acting career was stalling. In 1961, he took a role on the CBS television series Frontier Circus, but the network canceled the show in April 1962. By the mid 1960s, he stepped behind the camera as a director and cinematographer, leaving acting behind.

John DerekJohn DerekJohn Derek and Katy JuradoJohn Derek

LEFT and CENTER A: Beefcake poses from the 1950s. CENTER B: Derek with Katy Jurado. RIGHT: With fourth wife Bo Derek in 1984

In addition to his films, John Derek was also known for marrying some of the most beautiful actresses in Hollywood. His four wives were actresses Pati Behrs, Ursula Andress, Linda Evans, and Bo Derek. In his later career as a director, Derek directed films starring three of his wives, including Once Before I Die (1965) with Ursula Andress; Childish Things (1969) with Linda Evans; and Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981) with Bo Derek.

the films of john derek

Knock on Any Door (1949) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Susan Perry and John DerekJohn Derek and Humphrey Bogart

From Columbia's film noir Knock on Any Door. LEFT: With Susan Perry. RIGHT: With Humphrey Bogart

Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

John DerekJohn Derek and Diana Lynn

From Rogues of Sherwood Forest, released in color by Columbia. LEFT: Derek as Robin, Earl of Huntington. RIGHT: With Diana Lynn as Lady Marianne

Mask of the Avenger (1951)

John DerekJohn Derek and Jody Lawrance

From the Columbia swashbuckler Mask of the Avenger. The right photo includes Jody Lawrance

Scandal Sheet (1952) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

John Derek

From the Columbia film noir thriller Scandal Sheet

Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Maria Elena Marques and John Derek

With Maria Elena Marques in Columbia's Ambush at Tomahawk Gap, the first of several westerns for John Derek

Prince of Pirates (1953)

John Derek and Barbara Rush

With Barbara Rush in the Columbia swashbuckler Prince of Pirates

The Outcast (1954)

Catherine McLeod and John Derek

From the Republic western The Outcast with Catherine McLeod

An Annapolis Story (1955)

Kevin McCarthy, Diana Lynn, and John Derek

From the Allied Artists drama An Annapolis Story with Kevin McCarthy and Diana Lynn

Run For Cover (1955) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

James Cagney, Viveca Lindfors, and John Derek

With James Cagney and Viveca Lindfors in Nicholas Ray's Run For Cover, a western released by Paramount

The Leather Saint (1956)

John DerekJohn DerekJohn Derek, Jody Lawrance, and Cesar RomeroPaul Douglas, John Derek, and Richard Shannon

LEFT and CENTER A: Derek portrays Father Gil Allen, who boxes in order to raise money for a boys club, in Paramount's The Leather Saint. CENTER B: With Jody Lawrance and Cesar Romero. RIGHT: With Paul Douglas and Richard Shannon

The Ten Commandments (1956) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

John Derek and Charlton Heston

With Charlton Heston in Cecil B. DeMille's final film The Ten Commandments, released by Paramount (thanks to Tom)

The Flesh Is Weak (1957) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited


Joe Robinson and John Derek

With Joe Robinson in the prostitution expose The Flesh Is Weak

Fury at Showdown (1957) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

Nick Adams and John Derek

With Nick Adams in the western Fury at Showdown

Omar Khayyam (1957)

Debra Paget and John Derek

With Debra Paget in Paramount's costume adventure Omar Khayyam

High Hell (1958)

Elaine Stewart and John Derek

Derek and Elaine Stewart portray an adulterous couple in the Paramount adventure High Hell

Exodus (1960) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

John Derek

As Taha in Otto Preminger's historical drama Exodus

Nightmare in the Sun (1965) Get It Here at Movies Unlimited

John Derek

Derek stars in the crime drama Nightmare in the Sun, which was the first film he directed

later years

Following the release of Once Before I Die (1965), in which he produced, directed, and starred alongside his second wife, actress Ursula Andress, John Derek abandoned his acting career. He chose instead to serve as director, producer, writer, and cinematographer for a number of film projects. In the late 1960s he directed A Boy... a Girl (1969) and Childish Things (1969), the latter with his then-wife Linda Evans. His best-known effort is the adventure Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981; with Miles O'Keeffe and Bo Derek). With his health deteriorating, Derek stepped out of the business following the release of Ghosts Can't Do it (1990; with Bo Derek and Julie Newmar). After suffering with a heart ailment for more than a decade, he passed away on May 22, 1998, at the age of 71. He was survived by his fourth wife, Bo Derek, and son Russell and daughter Sean Catherine.

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FILM
A Double Life (Remastered Edition) [Blu-ray](1947)
Director George Cukor's classic psychological drama follows a talented but mentally unstable actor who begins living the role of the murderously jealous Othello on and off the stage. Star Ronald Colman won the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance; with Signe Hasso, Shelley Winters, Edmond O'Brien. 104 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.

A Double Life (Remastered Edition) [DVD](1947) DVD
Director George Cukor's classic psychological drama follows a talented but mentally unstable actor who begins living the role of the murderously jealous Othello on and off the stage. Star Ronald Colman won the Best Actor Academy Award for his performance; with Signe Hasso, Shelley Winters, Edmond O'Brien. 104 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo.

All The King's Men (Limited Edition) [Blu-ray](1949)
Three Oscars (Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress) went to this drama of a backwoods Southern lawyer who deals his way into the governor's mansion, but cannot control his lust for power. Broderick Crawford stars as the Huey Long-inspired kingpin. With Mercedes McCambridge, John Ireland, Joanne Dru; based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren. 110 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English DTS HD mono Master Audio; isolated music score; theatrical trailer.

All The King's Men [DVD](1949) DVD
Three Oscars (Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress) went to this drama of a backwoods Southern lawyer who deals his way into the governor's mansion, but cannot control his lust for power. Broderick Crawford stars as the Huey Long-inspired kingpin. With Mercedes McCambridge, John Ireland, Joanne Dru; based on the novel by Robert Penn Warren. 110 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English; theatrical trailer. NOTE: This Title Is Out Of Print; Limit One Per Customer.

Knock On Any Door [DVD](1949) DVD
Criminal defense attorney Humphrey Bogart had pulled himself up from a boyhood in the slums. Now, when a kid (John Derek) from the old neighborhood whom he had tried to reach out to finds himself on trial for the brutal slaying of a cop, the determined lawyer sets out to build a defense...and hopes his belief in his client's innocence isn't misplaced. Impactful courtroom drama from Nicholas Ray co-stars George Macready, Allene Roberts, Susan Perry. 100 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.

Humphrey Bogart: The Columbia Pictures Collection [DVD] DVD
Believing his wife died in a Japanese concentration camp and unaware of the daughter she bore, an Air Corps hero (Bogart) finds both in a post-war Tokyo and is forced to fly war criminals out of the country to protect them, in "Tokyo Joe" (1949). With Florence Marly, Sessue Hayakawa. "Sirocco" (1951) stars Bogey as a gun-runner in war-torn 1920s Syria trying to play rival forces against each other. Lee J. Cobb co-stars. And, in his last film, Bogart is a sportswriter-turned-press agent who learns how fighters are manipulated when he's hired by a crooked boxing promoter. "The Harder They Fall" (1956) also stars Rod Steiger and ring greats Max Baer and Jersey Joe Walcott. Five-disc set also includes "Love Affair" (1932) and "Knock on Any Door."

Rogues Of Sherwood Forest [DVD](1950) DVD
The king is at it again--taxing the helpless folk of his lands into abject poverty. Fortunately for the good people of Sherwood Forest, Robin Hood's son (John Derek) has inherited his famous father's penchant for crusading on behalf of the oppressed. Join him, Friar Tuck (Billy House), and the king's ward, Lady Marianne (Diana Lynn), as they set out to prove that might doesn't always make right. With Alan Hale, George Macready. 76 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English (SDH); theatrical trailer.

The Samuel Fuller Collection [DVD] DVD
As the silent-film era draws to a close, a western star (Richard Dix) finds his career in dire straits while his leading lady (Fay Wray) thrives, in "It Happened in Hollywood" (1937). It's an "Adventure in Sahara" (1938) when a band of mutinous legionnaires banishes their commander to the harsh desert. C. Henry Gordon stars. A dedicated newsman must stop his publisher from using their paper for his own political purposes, in "Power of the Press" (1943). Otto Kruger, Lee Tracy star. A beautiful ex-con (Patricia Knight) is torn between her straight-arrow parole officer (Cornel Wilde) and her shady gambler lover (John Baragrey), in "Shockproof" (1949). The editor of a "Scandal Sheet" (1952) kills his wife and puts suspicion off himself by assigning a reporter to find the killer. With Broderick Crawford, Donna Reed. While investigating the murder of a stripper, two detectives fall for the same woman--who also happens to be their star witness, in "The Crimson Kimono" (1959). Glenn Corbett,Victoria Shaw star. Cliff Robertson is a man seeking revenge against the crooks who killed his father, in "Underworld U.S.A." (1961). 8 3/4 hrs. total on seven discs. Standard/Widescreen (Enhanced); Subtitles: English, French; featurettes.

Ambush At Tomahawk Gap [DVD](1953) DVD
Four newly released ex-cons make their way to the town of Tomahawk Gap, hunting for the stash of loot that their former partner had buried there. Upon arrival, they find the place deserted...and soon learn why, as they're confronted by Apaches out to make war. Standout shoot-'em-up stars John Hodiak, John Derek, David Brian, Ray Teal, John Qualen. 73 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.

The Last Posse [DVD](1953) DVD
After being robbed by a trio of men he bilked in a deal, a ruthless cattle baron (Charles Bickford) organizes a posse to track them down...and the town's dissipated sheriff (Broderick Crawford) tags along to make sure the three are brought back alive. Upon the posse's return, the lawman is badly wounded, and the rancher is missing. What really happened? The revelations that unfold in this film noir-tinged oater will stun you. John Derek, Wanda Hendrix, Henry Hull co-star. 73 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.

Run For Cover [Blu-ray](1955)
Rare western vehicle for James Cagney casts him as an ex-con drifter whose skill with a shooting iron brings a small town to offer him its sheriff's badge. The ghosts of his past, as well as embittered young deputy John Derek, wind up causing him no end of problems. Viveca Lindfors, Ernest Borgnine, Jean Hersholt, Grant Withers co-star under Nicholas Ray's direction. 93 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English.

Run For Cover [DVD](1955) DVD
Rare western vehicle for James Cagney casts him as an ex-con drifter whose skill with a shooting iron brings a small town to offer him its sheriff's badge. The ghosts of his past, as well as embittered young deputy John Derek, wind up causing him no end of problems. Viveca Lindfors, Ernest Borgnine, Jean Hersholt, Grant Withers co-star under Nicholas Ray's direction. 93 min. Widescreen; Soundtrack: English.

The Ten Commandments (Restoration Version) [Blu-ray](1956)
Cecil B. DeMille's final film was this grand-scale religious epic starring Charlton Heston as Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince chosen by God to abandon a life of luxury and lead his fellow Israelites out of slavery. The flight from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and Moses' receiving of the Commandments are among this classic film's many highlights. With Edward G. Robinson, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne De Carlo, and a cast of thousands. 3 3/4 hrs. Widescreen; Soundtracks: English DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio, Dolby Digital stereo Surround, French Dolby Digital mono, Portuguese Dolby Digital stereo Surround, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English (SDH), French, Portuguese, Spanish; audio commentary; newsreel footage; theatrical trailers.

The Ten Commandments (Restoration Version) [DVD](1956) DVD
Cecil B. DeMille's final film was this grand-scale religious epic starring Charlton Heston as Moses, an adopted Egyptian prince chosen by God to abandon a life of luxury and lead his fellow Israelites out of slavery. The flight from Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and Moses' receiving of the Commandments are among this classic film's many highlights. With Edward G. Robinson, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter, Yvonne De Carlo, and a cast of thousands. 3 3/4 hrs. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtracks: English Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital stereo Surround, French Dolby Digital mono, Portuguese Dolby Digital stereo Surround, Spanish Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese, Spanish; audio commentary; newsreel footage; theatrical trailers.

The Flesh Is Weak [DVD](1957) DVD
Dramatic British look at the sordid world of prostitution stars Milly Vitale as a naive small-town girl who arrives in London and falls under the sway of smooth-talking pimp John Derek, who leads her into a life of degradation and eventually has her sent to prison to teach her a lesson. William Franklyn, Freda Jackson co-star. 89 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English.

Along Came Jones (1945)/Fury At Showdown [DVD](1957) DVD
Upon entering a Western town, mild-mannered cowpoke Gary Cooper is mistaken for an ornery outlaw and quickly wins the respect of the townsfolk--until the real black hat arrives on the scene, looking to get rid of the impostor. Dan Duryea, Loretta Young, and William Demarest also star in the funny sagebrusher "Along Came Jones." And, "Fury at Showdown" stars John Derek as a gunfighter-turned-rancher reluctantly forced back into his old violent ways when he must exact revenge against the outlaws who killed his brother. With John Smith, Carolyn Craig, Nick Adams. 165 min. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English.

Exodus [DVD](1960) DVD
Director Otto Preminger's sprawling saga about the 1947 Palestinian war for Israel's independence features an all-star cast that includes Paul Newman as a fiery resistance leader, Eva Marie Saint as an army nurse, Ralph Richardson and Peter Lawford as British officers and Sal Mineo as a radical freedom fighter. With John Derek, Lee J. Cobb; scripted by Dalton Trumbo from Leon Uris' novel. 208 min. Widescreen; Soundtracks: English Dolby Surround; Subtitles: English, French, Spanish; theatrical trailer.

Once Before I Die [DVD](1966) DVD
Exciting WWII actioner concerns an underequipped unit of American soldiers stationed in the Philippines as they come under fire from the Japanese. After they encounter an alluring beauty, they try to protect her while inching their way towards the safety of Manila--encountering the brutality of war along the way. Directed by John Derek, who co-stars with then-wife Ursula Andress, Richard Jaeckel, Ron Ely. 97 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono.

Tarzan, The Ape Man [DVD](1981) DVD
Bo Derek is the swinging-est Jane yet in this sexy version of the legend. Dry, wet or undressed, Bo will steal your heart and bulge your eyes. No wonder jungle king Miles O'Keeffe screams, "ah uhh-uhh ah-uh!" Richard Harris co-stars. 115 min. Widescreen (Enhanced); Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital 5.1; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; theatrical trailer.


TELEVISION
Frontier Circus [DVD](1961) DVD
A departure from the traditional western television shows of the time, this offbeat 1961-62 NBC series--which has never been aired in syndication--chronicled the misadventures of the employees of a small circus as they travelled the American Southwest in the late 19th century. Chill Wills, John Derek, Richard Jaeckel, J. Pat O'Malley starred. All 26 episodes of the series are featured in a six-disc set. 21 2/3 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English. 26 episodes on 6 discs. 21 2/3 hrs.

Zane Grey Theatre: Complete Season One [DVD](1956) DVD
All 29 episodes from the debut season--including "You Only Run Once," "Stage to Tucson," "Courage Is a Gun," "Back Trail," and "Badge of Honor"--have been collected in a four-disc set. 14 1/2 hrs. total. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital stereo; interviews; TV spots. **29 episodes on 4 discs.**

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filmography

FILMS
Once Before I Die (1965) with Ursula Andress, Ron Ely, Richard Jaeckel, and Rod Lauren
Nightmare in the Sun (1965) with Ursula Andress, Richard Jaeckel, Chick Chandler, Keenan Wynn, and Aldo Ray
Exodus (1960) with Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Sal Mineo, Ralph Richardson, Peter Lawford, Lee J. Cobb, and George Maharis
Prisoner of the Volga (1958) with Dawn Addams, Elsa Martinelli, Gert Frobe, and Rik Battaglia
High Hell (1958) with Elaine Stewart
Pirate of the Half Moon (1957) with Gianna Maria Canale
The Flesh Is Weak (1957) with Joe Robinson
Omar Khayyam (1957) with Cornel Wilde, Debra Paget, Michael Rennie, Raymond Massey, and Sebastian Cabot
Fury at Showdown (1957) with Nick Adams, John Smith, and Carolyn Craig
Massacre at Sand Creek (1956) with William Schallert
The Ten Commandments (1956) with Charlton Heston, Yvonne De Carlo, Debra Paget, Mike Connors, Woody Strode, Vincent Price, and Anne Baxter
The Leather Saint (1956) with Paul Douglas and Cesar Romero
Run for Cover (1955) with James Cagney, Viveca Lindfors, Ernest Borgnine, and Grant Withers
An Annapolis Story (1955) with Kevin McCarthy, Diana Lynn, Alvy Moore, and L.Q. Jones
Prince of Players (1955) with Richard Burton and Raymond Massey
The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954) with Elaine Stewart, Amanda Blake, and Peter Mamakos
The Outcast (1954) with Joan Evans, Jim Davis, and Nicolas Coster
Sea of Lost Ships (1954) with Richard Jaeckel, Wanda Hendrix, Steve Brodie, and Walter Brennan
Mission Over Korea (1953) with John Hodiak, Rex Reason, Harvey Lembeck, and Maureen O'Sullivan
The Last Posse (1953) with Broderick Crawford and Wanda Hendrix
Ambush at Tomahawk Gap (1953) with John Hodiak and David Brian
Prince of Pirates (1953) with Barbara Rush
Thunderbirds (1952) with John Drew Barrymore, Ward Bond, and Mona Freeman
Scandal Sheet (1952) with Broderick Crawford, Rosemary DeCamp, and Harry Morgan
The Family Secret (1951) with Lee J. Cobb, Peggy Converse, and Jody Lawrance
Saturday's Hero (1951) with Donna Reed, Aldo Ray, and Sidney Blackmer
Mask of the Avenger (1951) with Anthony Quinn and Jody Lawrance
Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950) with Diana Lynn, Alan Hale, and George Macready
All the King's Men (1949) with Broderick Crawford, John Ireland, Joanne Dru, and Mercedes McCambridge
Knock on Any Door (1949) with Humphrey Bogart and George Macready
A Double Life (1947) with Ronald Colman, Shelley Winters, and Edmund O'Brien
I'll Be Seeing You (1944) with Ginger Rogers, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, and Spring Byington

TELEVISION SERIES
Frontier Circus, 1961-1962 CBS TV series. Derek portrayed Ben Travis

TELEVISION GUEST APPEARANCES
Zane Grey Theater, episode Storm Over Eden, originally aired May 4, 1961
Zane Grey Theater, episode There Were Four, originally aired March 15, 1957
Playhouse 90, episode Massacre at Sand Creek, originally aired December 27, 1956
The Ford Television Theatre, episode Black Jim Hawk, originally aired October 31, 1956
Lux Video Theatre, episode A Place in the Sun, originally aired January 28, 1954
The Ford Television Theatre, episode Tomorrow's Men, originally aired October 29, 1953

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This page premiered August 26, 2003.
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