Good morning, it's Friday, Nov. 20, 2020, the day the week when I reprise an instructive or inspirational quotation. Today's comes from a onetime moderate Republican (remember them?) who turns 64 years old today. I'm talking about actress Bo Derek, who shares a birthday with a slightly older gentleman, Joseph R. Biden Jr., the man in line to become the oldest president in American history.
Happy birthday, Mr. President-elect.
Until the 2000 presidential campaign, actress Bo Derek was known for two things: becoming involved with handsome Hollywood actor and director John Derek when she was 17 (and he was 47). It was a scandal at the time, but John Derek's fourth and final marriage proved enduring: It lasted until he died 22 years later, still married to his younger companion. After the start of their romance, Bo Derek faded from the gossip pages and America's collective memory -- until Blake Edwards cast her as the beautiful ingenue who comes between the husband-wife couple played by Dudley Moore and Julie Andrews when Moore hilariously acts out his midlife crisis.
That 1979 film, a romantic comedy titled "10," was not only a box office hit, it was also cultural touchstone that introduced the young actress to a broad swath of moviegoers. In the ensuing years, she seemed only marginally interested in capitalizing on that fame. Then, 20 years ago, she showed up in Philadelphia at the Republican National Convention, drawing attention mainly from the curiosity factor -- that there were still any Republicans in Hollywood other than Clint Eastwood. (Derek introduced California Republican pol Abel Maldonado, in both Spanish and English, which you can see here at about the 58-minute mark in this lengthy C-SPAN clip.)
At the halfway point between "10" and her endorsement of George W. Bush for president, Bo Derek starred in a movie written and directed by her husband. "Starred" probably is not the right word because the plot and dialogue of that film, "Ghosts Can't Do It," was so atrocious nobody could have saved it, much less have shone in it, and that includes the brilliant Anthony Quinn, cast as the husband-turned-ghost who haunts his younger wife.
It seems I'm digressing here, but I'm not. "Ghosts Can't Do It" is remembered for something other than its sheer awfulness: a cameo by Donald Trump, playing himself. That scene, like everything else in this movie, is cringe-worthy, although when she was asked about it in 2016 after Trump won the presidency, Bo Derek graciously said he was "fun" to work with on the set.
So, is she still a Republican? And did she support Trump's candidacy? It turns out that Derek is more like an unaffiliated voter with center-right sensibilities, who liked George W. Bush and ended up voting for Barack Obama in 2008. Asked earlier this year about her political preferences, she demurred. "I don't talk about who I vote for anymore," she told Vanity Fair. "I supported Bush 43 and I became one of the poster girls for the Republicans. But I'm an independent. I don't want to be pigeonholed and labeled as one thing or another."
That interview was conducted during the summer of 2020, as America was roiled -- during a pandemic lockdown, no less -- by racial unrest sparked by several appalling instances of police brutality.
"Do you think Trump is the one who will get the country to the other side?" she was asked.
"I don't think he has the influence that people think he has," Bo Derek replied. "I don't need my president to be my moral leader. Could he have done more? I don't know. We had Obama and not that much happened in that area when I look back on those eight years."
She then added, "I don't think this gets solved at a presidential level." And that's our quote of the week.
Carl M. Cannon is the Washington bureau chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.