|This biographical article relies on references to primary sources. (April 2012)|
Jennifer O'Neill in Lady Ice (1973)
February 20, 1948 |
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Occupation||Actress, model, writer, speaker, horse trainer.|
|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". 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.: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.:83 She attended New York City's Professional Children's School and the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan, but dropped out to wed her first husband at age 17. Later, she moved on to films and worked in a number of television movies and series.
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, 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. Her attitude changed when TV miniseries such as Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots started featuring film stars. 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. 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.
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.
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. 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."
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.:95:174:209
At the age of thirty-four, O'Neill suffered a gunshot wound. Police officers in the Westchester County town of Bedford, New York, who interviewed O'Neill, determined that on October 23, 1982, she accidentally shot herself in the abdomen with a .38 caliber revolver at her 30-acre 25 room French style estate while trying to determine if the weapon was loaded. Her fourth husband at the time, John Lederer, was not in the house when the handgun was discharged. Detective Sgt. Thomas Rothwell was quoted as having said that O'Neill "didn't know much about guns."
In her 1999 autobiography Surviving Myself, O'Neill describes many of her life experiences, including her marriages, career, and her move to her Tennessee farm in the late 1990s. O'Neill says that she wrote the autobiography (her first book) "… at the prompting of her children."
In 2004, O'Neill wrote and published From Fallen To Forgiven, 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.
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. She has also served as the spokesperson for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, 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.
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.
|1968||For Love of Ivy||Sandy|
|1970||Rio Lobo||Shasta Delaney|
|1971||Summer of '42||Dorothy|
|Such Good Friends||Miranda Graham|
|The Carey Treatment||Georgia Hightower|
|1973||Lady Ice||Paula Booth|
|1975||The Flower in His Mouth||Elena Bardi|
|The Reincarnation of Peter Proud||Ann Curtis|
|Whiffs||Lt. Scottie Hallam|
|Call Girl: La vida privada de una señorita bien|
|1977||Sette note in nero||Virginia Ducci||English title: The Psychic|
|1979||A Force of One||Mandy Rust|
|1980||Cloud Dancer||Helen St. Clair|
|1987||I Love N.Y.||Irene|
|1992||Invasion of Privacy||Hillary Wayne||Direct-to-Video Release|
|Love Is Like That||Ms. Alman|
|1994||The Visual Bible: Acts||Lydia||Direct-to-Video Release|
|The Ride||Ellen Stillwell|
|1999||The Prince and the Surfer||Queen Albertina|
|2002||Time Changer||Michelle Bain|
|2008||Billy: The Early Years||Reporter|
|Last Ounce of Courage||Dottie||Released Sept. 11, 2012|
|1979||Love's Savage Fury||Laurel Taggart||ABC TV-Movie|
|1981||The Other Victim||Nancy Langford||CBS TV-Movie|
|1983||Bare Essence||Lady Bobbi Rowan|
|1984–1985||Cover Up||Danielle Reynolds|
|Chase||Sandy Albright||CBS TV-Movie|
|1986||Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star||Alison Carr||NBC TV-Movie|
|1988||The Red Spider||Stephanie Hartford||CBS TV-Movie|
|Glory Days||Scotty Moran||CBS TV-Movie|
|1989||Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes Scandal||Debralee Taft||NBC TV-Movie|
|1993||The Cover Girl Murders||Kate||TV-Movie|
|1994||Jonathan Stone: Threat of Innocence||Nan Stone||NBC TV-Movie|
|1995||Silver Strand||Louellen Peterson||Showtime TV-Movie|
|1996||Poltergeist: The Legacy||Lorraine Compton||Episode: "Revelations"|
|1997||The Corporate Ladder||Irene Grace||Playboy Channel TV-Movie|
|Nash Bridges||Jenny||Episode: "Shake, Rattle & Roll"|
|2000||On Music Row||Linda Rodgers||TV-Movie|
Books written 
- Surviving Myself, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1999.
- From Fallen to Forgiven, Thomas Nelson, 2002.
- You're Not Alone: Healing Through God's Grace After Abortion. Faith Communications, 2005.
- Remarkable Women, Insight Publishing Group, 2005.
- A Fall Together, B&H Publishing Group, 2006.
- A Winter of Wonders, B&H Publishing Group, 2007.
- A Late Spring Frost, B&H Publishing Group, 2007
- Faith Lessons, Insight Publishing Group, 2008.
- "Mervin Louque". Douglascorner.com. Retrieved May 17, 2012.
- O'Neill, Jennifer (1999). Surviving Myself. W. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-15992-4.
- Levitt, Shelley (January 18, 1993). "Seventh Heaven". People. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- Park, Louis Hillary (June 2002). "Summer of '42". TC Palm. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
- Buck, Jerry (March 5, 1983). "Jennifer O'Neill Swept Into Role In 'Bare Essence'". The News and Courier. p. 3-D.
- "Jon-Erik Hexum Fatal Joke". Entertainment Weekly. October 14, 1994. Retrieved August 16, 2008.
- Cover Girl Advertising Oral History & Documentation Project, 1959–1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institute.
- Fink, Mitchell (August 23, 1993). "The Insider". People. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
- Stevenson, Laura (November 24, 1975). People.
- "THE REGION; O'Neill Shooting Called an Accident". New York Times. October 26, 1982. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
- "Actress claims shooting was accident", Minden Press-Herald, October 26, 1982, p. 1
- O'Neill, Jennifer (2002). From Fallen to Forgiven. Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-0-8499-1715-8.
- O'Neill, Jennifer (May 13, 2008). "People vs. Politicians". National Catholic Register. p. 8.
- Mosher, Megan (September 16, 2011). "Restoration House Celebrates 25 years". Daily Star (Hammond, Louisiana). Retrieved February 9, 2012.
- "Jennifer O'Neill Bio". The Grable Group. September 16, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
- "Hillenglade: Health, Hope and Healing".
- "The Corporate Ladder (1997 film) – Plot Summary". IMDb. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
- Jennifer O'Neill at the Internet Movie Database
- Official website
- Interview with Jennifer O'Neill
- Jennifer O'Neill Directory
- O'Neill Shares Pro-Life Message