Jennifer O'Neill

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Jennifer O'Neill

Jennifer O'Neill in Lady Ice (1973)
Born(1948-02-20) February 20, 1948 (age 64)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
OccupationActress, model, writer, speaker, horse trainer.
Years active1968–present
Spouse(s)Mervin Sidney Louque
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Jennifer O'Neill

Jennifer O'Neill in Lady Ice (1973)
Born(1948-02-20) February 20, 1948 (age 64)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
OccupationActress, model, writer, speaker, horse trainer.
Years active1968–present
Spouse(s)Mervin Sidney Louque

Jennifer O'Neill (born February 20, 1948) is an American actress, model, author and speaker, known for her role in the 1971 film Summer of '42 and as a face of CoverGirl cosmetics starting in the 1970s.


Early life

O'Neill was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the granddaughter of a Brazilian bank president, and the daughter of a famous Brazilian medical and dental supply import/export businessman, Oscar D' O'Neill, of Irish and Spanish descent, and his English wife, Irene ("Rene") Freda, a homemaker. O'Neill and her older brother Michael were raised in New Rochelle, New York, and Wilton, Connecticut.

When she was 14, the family moved to New York City. On Easter Sunday, 1962, O'Neill attempted suicide because the move would separate her from her dog Mandy and horse Monty -- "her whole world".[2] That same year, she was discovered by the Ford modeling agency and put under contract. By age 15, she was gracing the cover of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and other magazines, earning $80,000 a year in 1962 working as a fashion model in New York City and also working in Paris, France, and dating older men.[2]:71

An accomplished rider, O'Neill won upwards of 200 ribbons at horse show competitions in her teens. She saved up her modeling fees and bought a horse, Alezon, who balked before a wall at a horse show, breaking O'Neill's neck and back in three places, and giving her a long period of recovery.[2]:83 She attended New York City's Professional Children's School and the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan. Later, she moved on to films and worked in a number of television movies and series.


In 1968 O'Neill landed a small role in For Love of Ivy. In 1970 she played one of the lead female roles in Rio Lobo starring opposite John Wayne.

She is most remembered for her role in the 1971 film Summer of '42, where she played Dorothy Walker, the young widow of a pilot shot down and killed in World War II. Her agent allegedly had to fight to even get a reading for the part,[3] since the role had been cast for an "older woman" to a "coming of age" 15 year old boy, and the director was only considering actresses over the age of thirty, Barbra Streisand being at the top of the list.

O'Neill continued acting for the next two decades. She appeared in The Carey Treatment (1972), Lady Ice (1973), The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975), Caravans (1978), A Force of One (1979), Scanners (1981), and The Cover Girl Murders (1993 made-for-television film). She went to Europe in 1976 and worked with Italian director Luchino Visconti, appearing in his last film L'innocente (1976), where she played the part of the mistress, Teresa Raffo.

In 1982, O'Neill starred in the short-lived NBC prime time soap opera Bare Essence. She portrayed a role previously envisioned by actress Linda Evans in the miniseries that the soap was based on. She was initially reluctant to star in a TV series, because in those days actors usually only starred in either movies or on television.[4] Her attitude changed when TV miniseries such as Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots started featuring film stars.[4] When the movie business went into doldrum, she agreed to star in two TV movies, which she enjoyed, and then took on the starring role in Bare Essence.[4] Her other credits include singing in the Chrysler Corporation commercial "Change in Charger" that represented the end of the Dodge Charger in 1975. In 1984, she played the lead female role on the CBS television series Cover Up; the lead male actor, Jon-Erik Hexum, was accidentally killed on the studio set after placing a blank-loaded prop gun to his temple and pulling the trigger—the wadding from the blank cartridge drove a bone fragment from Hexum's skull into his brain.[5]

O'Neill is also listed in the Smithsonian Institute's National Museum of American History's Center for Advertising History for her long standing contract with Cover Girl cosmetics as its model and spokesperson in ads and television commercials.[6]

Personal life

O'Neill has been married nine times to eight husbands (she married, divorced, and remarried husband number six); at one point, she was married to four different men in four years. At age 44, she married husband number seven sooner than any other actress, sooner than Zsa Zsa Gabor (who was 63), Liza Minnelli (59) and Lana Turner (49), making her the youngest "most married" Hollywood celebrity.[7] The August 23, 1993, issue of People magazine reports that a friend of O'Neill's says that the actress obtained the (Texas) annulment of marriage number seven (Neil L. Bonin - after less than five months) "... because she felt stifled."[8]

O'Neill has three children from as many fathers, a daughter (Aimee) by her first husband whom she married at age 17, and a son (Reis Michael) from her fifth marriage and another son (Cooper Alan) from her sixth marriage.[2]:95:174:209

At age 34, O'Neill suffered a gunshot wound. Police officers in the Westchester County town of Bedford, New York, who interviewed the actress, said that on October 23, 1982, she shot herself accidentally in the abdomen with a .38 caliber revolver at her Bedford mansion while she was trying to determine if it was loaded.[9]

She describes many of her life experiences, including her marriages and career, to her move to her Tennessee farm in the late 1990s in her 1999 autobiography Surviving Myself.[2] O'Neill says that she wrote this autobiography (her first book) "… at the prompting of her children."[2]

In 2004, O'Neill wrote and published From Fallen To Forgiven,[10] a book of biographical notes and philosophical thoughts about life and existence. The actress, who had an abortion after the divorce from her first husband while dating a Wall Street socialite, became a pro-life activist and a born-again Christian in 1986 at age 38, counseling abstinence to teens. Concerning her abortion, she writes:

I was told a lie from the pit of hell: that my baby was just a blob of tissue. The aftermath of abortion can be equally deadly for both mother and unborn child. A woman who has an abortion is sentenced to bear that for the rest of her life.[11]

O'Neill continues to be active as a writer working on her second autobiography CoverStory (release date - to be determined), an inspirational speaker, and fundraiser for the benefit of crisis pregnancy centers across the United States.[12] She has also served as the spokesperson for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign,[12] a non-denominational, non-political, non-profit organization dedicated to post-abortion healing and recovery.

O'Neill works for several other charitable causes as well, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa International and the Arthritis Foundation. As a breast cancer survivor she has also been a former spokesperson for the American Cancer Society. She has also hosted a one hour television special for World Vision shot in Africa concerning the HIV epidemic. In addition, she remains actively involved with her childhood love of animals and horses, sponsoring the Jennifer O'Neill Tennis Tournament to benefit the ASPCA, and fund-raiser for Guiding Eyes for the blind.[13]

O'Neill purchased a horse farm in Tennessee called Hillenglade Farm where she runs a non-profit organization as a ministry and retreat for girls and young women.[14]


YearFilmRoleOther notes
1968For Love of IvySandy
1970Rio LoboShasta Delaney
1971Summer of '42Dorothy
Such Good FriendsMiranda Graham
1972Glass HousesJean
The Carey TreatmentGeorgia Hightower
1973Lady IcePaula Booth
1975The Flower in His MouthElena Bardi
The Reincarnation of Peter ProudAnn Curtis
WhiffsLt. Scottie Hallam
1976L'innocenteTeresa Raffo
Call Girl: La vida privada de una señorita bien
1977Sette note in neroVirginia DucciEnglish title: The Psychic
1978CaravansEllen Jasper
1979A Force of OneMandy Rust
SteelCass Cassidy
1980Cloud DancerHelen St. Clair
1981ScannersKim Obrist
1987I Love N.Y.Irene
1991CommittedSusan Manning
1992Invasion of PrivacyHillary WayneDirect-to-Video Release
Love Is Like ThatMs. Alman
1993Discretion AssuredPaige
1994The Visual Bible: ActsLydiaDirect-to-Video Release
1997RaneyDr. Bridges
The RideEllen Stillwell
1999The Prince and the SurferQueen Albertina
2002Time ChangerMichelle Bain
2008Billy: The Early YearsReporter
2012DoonbyBarbara Ann
Last Ounce of CourageDottieReleased Sept. 11, 2012
1979Love's Savage FuryLaurel TaggartABC TV-Movie
1981The Other VictimNancy LangfordCBS TV-Movie
1983Bare EssenceLady Bobbi Rowan
1984–1985Cover UpDanielle Reynolds
1985A.D.Valeria MessalinaMiniseries
ChaseSandy AlbrightCBS TV-Movie
1986Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting StarAlison CarrNBC TV-Movie
1988The Red SpiderStephanie HartfordCBS TV-Movie
Glory DaysScotty MoranCBS TV-Movie
1989Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes ScandalDebralee TaftNBC TV-Movie
1990PersonalsHeather MooreTV-Movie
1992Perfect FamilyMaggieTV-Movie
1993The Cover Girl MurdersKateTV-Movie
1994Jonathan Stone: Threat of InnocenceNan StoneNBC TV-Movie
1995Silver StrandLouellen PetersonShowtime TV-Movie
1996Poltergeist: The LegacyLorraine ComptonEpisode: "Revelations"
1997The Corporate LadderIrene GracePlayboy Channel TV-Movie[15]
Nash BridgesJennyEpisode: "Shake, Rattle & Roll"
2000On Music RowLinda RodgersTV-Movie

Books written


  1. ^ "Mervin Louque". Retrieved May 17, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f O'Neill, Jennifer (1999). Surviving Myself. W. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-15992-4.
  3. ^ Park, Louis Hillary (June 2002). "Summer of '42". TC Palm. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Buck, Jerry (March 5, 1983). "Jennifer O'Neill Swept Into Role In 'Bare Essence'". The News and Courier: p. 3-D.
  5. ^ "Jon-Erik Hexum Fatal Joke". Entertainment Weekly. October 14, 1994.,,304026,00.html. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
  6. ^ Cover Girl Advertising Oral History & Documentation Project, 1959-1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute.
  7. ^ Levitt, Shelley (January 18, 1993). "Seventh Heaven". People.,,20109624,00.html. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  8. ^ Fink, Mitchell (August 23, 1993). "The Insider". People.,,20106108,00.html. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  9. ^ "THE REGION; O'Neill Shooting Called an Accident". New York Times. October 26, 1982. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  10. ^ O'Neill, Jennifer (2002). From Fallen to Forgiven. Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-0-8499-1715-8.
  11. ^ O'Neill, Jennifer (May 13, 2008). "People vs. Politicians". National Catholic Register: p. 8.
  12. ^ a b Mosher, Megan (September 16, 2011). "Restoration House Celebrates 25 years". Daily Star (Hammond, Louisiana). Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  13. ^ "Jennifer O'Neill Bio". The Grable Group. September 16, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  14. ^ "Hillenglade: Health, Hope and Healing".
  15. ^ "The Corporate Ladder (1997 film) - Plot Summary". IMDb. Retrieved May 20, 2012.

External links