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This article is about the actress and model. For the basketball player, see Jennifer O'Neill (basketball).

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Jennifer O'Neill
File:Jennifer O'Neill 1973.JPG
Jennifer O'Neill in Lady Ice (1973)
Born (1948-02-20) February 20, 1948 (age 76)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
OccupationsActress, model, writer, speaker, horse trainer.
Years active1968–present
SpousesMarried nine times to eight men, last to Mervin Sidney Louque (1996–present)

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 modelling for CoverGirl cosmetics starting in the 1970s.

Early life[]

O'Neill was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but she 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".[1] That same year, she was discovered by the Ford modeling agency.[citation needed] By age 15, while attending the prestigious Dalton School in Manhattan, she was appearing on the covers of Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Seventeen, earning $80,000 a year in 1962.[1]:71

An accomplished equestrienne, O'Neill won upwards of 200 ribbons at horse show competitions in her teens. With her modelling fees, she had purchased a horse, named Alezon. However, it once balked before a wall at a horse show, throwing her, breaking O'Neill's neck and back in three places.[1]:83 She attended New York City's Professional Children's School and the Dalton School in Manhattan, but dropped out to wed her first husband, IBM executive Dean Rossiter, at age 17.[2]


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.[3]

She is most remembered for her role in the 1971 film Summer of '42, where she played Dorothy Walker, the young wife of an airman who has gone off to fight in World War II. She stated in a published 2002 interview that her agent had to fight to even get a reading for the part,[4] 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), Sette note in nero (1977), 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 The Innocent (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 on which the soap was based. She was initially reluctant to star in a television series, because in those days actors usually only starred in either movies or on television.[5] Her attitude changed when TV miniseries such as Rich Man, Poor Man and Roots started featuring film stars.[5] When the movie business went into a doldrum, she agreed to star in two television movies, which she enjoyed, and then took on the starring role in Bare Essence.[5] In 1984, she played the lead female role on the CBS television series Cover Up.

O'Neill is also listed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History's Center for Advertising History for her long-standing contract with CoverGirl 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 her sixth husband).[2] O'Neill has three children from as many fathers.[1]:95:174:209

  • Dean Rossiter (24 April 1965 - 11 June 1971) (divorced) (1 child)
  • Joseph Koster (1972 - 1974) (divorced)
  • Nick De Noia (1975 - 1976) (divorced)
  • Jeff Barry (3 June 1978 - 26 June 1979) (divorced)
  • John Lederer (1979 - 1983) (divorced) (1 child)
  • Richard Alan Brown (13 July 1986 - 18 January 1989) (divorced) (1 child)
  • Neil L. Bonin (9 December 1992 - 7 May 1993) (annulled)
  • Richard Alan Brown (9 December 1993 - 1996) (divorced) (1 child)
  • Mervin Sidney Louque, Jr. (1996–present)

On October 23, 1982, O'Neill suffered a gunshot wound in her home on McClain Street in Bedford, New York. Police officers who interviewed O'Neill determined that she accidentally shot herself in the abdomen with a .38 caliber revolver at her 30-acre, 25-room French-style estate[7] while trying to determine if the weapon was loaded.[8][9] Her fourth husband at the time, John Lederer, was not in the house when the handgun was discharged, but two other people were in the house. Detective Sgt. Thomas Rothwell was quoted as having said that O'Neill "didn't know much about guns."[10]

On October 12, 1984, O'Neill's co-star in the Cover Up television series, Jon-Erik Hexum, shot himself on the show's set with a gun loaded with a blank cartridge. He died six days later.

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.[1] O'Neill says that she wrote the autobiography (her first book) "... at the prompting of her children."[1]

In 2004, O'Neill wrote and published From Fallen To Forgiven,[11] a book of biographical notes and thoughts about life and existence. The actress, who underwent 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:

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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.[12]

O'Neill continues to be active as a writer working on her second autobiography, CoverStory, an inspirational speaker, and fundraiser for the benefit of crisis pregnancy centers across the United States.[13] She has also served as the spokesperson for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign,[13] an organization for people who regret that they or their partners had abortions.

O'Neill works for other charitable causes, such as Retinitis Pigmentosa International and the Arthritis Foundation. As a breast cancer survivor she was once a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.[citation needed] She has hosted a one-hour television special for World Vision International shot in Africa concerning the HIV epidemic.[citation needed] O'Neill sponsors the Jennifer O'Neill Tennis Tournament to benefit the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), and fund-raiser for Guiding Eyes for the blind.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1968 For Love of Ivy Sandy
1969 Some Kind of a Nut The Beauty
1970 Rio Lobo Shasta Delaney
1971 Summer of '42 Dorothy
1971 Such Good Friends Miranda
1972 The Carey Treatment Georgia Hightower
1973 Lady Ice Paula Booth
1975 The Reincarnation of Peter Proud Ann Curtis
1975 Whiffs Lt. Scottie Hallam
1975 The Flower in His Mouth Elena Bardi
1976 The Innocent Teresa Raffo
1977 The Psychic Virginia Ducci
1978 Caravans Ellen Jasper
1979 A Force of One Mandy Rust
1979 Steel Cass Cassidy
1980 Cloud Dancer Helen St. Clair
1981 Scanners Kim Obrist
1987 I Love N.Y. Irene
1991 Committed Susan Manning
1992 Invasion of Privacy Hillary Wayne Video
1994 Discretion Assured Paige
1994 The Visual Bible: Acts Lydia of Thyatira Video
1997 The Corporate Ladder Irene Grace
1997 The Ride Ellen Stillwell
1999 The Prince and the Surfer Queen Albertina
2002 Time Changer Michelle Bain
2012 Last Ounce of Courage Dottie Revere
2013 Doonby Barbara Ann
2016 I'm Not Ashamed Linda


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Love's Savage Fury Laurel Taggart TV film
1981 The Other Victim Nancy Langford TV film
1983 Bare Essence Lady Bobbi Rowan Main role (11 episodes)
1984-1985 Cover Up Danielle Reynolds Main role (14 episodes)
1985 A.D. Messalina TV miniseries
1985 Chase Sandy Albright TV film
1986 Perry Mason: The Case of the Shooting Star Alison Carr TV film
1988 The Red Spider Stephanie Hartford TV film
1988 Glory Days Scotty Moran TV film
1989 Full Exposure: The Sex Tapes Scandal Debralee Taft TV film
1990 Personals Heather Moore TV film
1992 Perfect Family Maggie TV film
1993 The Cover Girl Murders Kate TV film
1994 Jonathan Stone: Threat of Innocence Nan Stone TV film
1995 Silver Strand Louellen Peterson TV film
1996 Voyeur II Elizabeth (voice) Video game
1996 Poltergeist: The Legacy Lorraine Compton Episode: "Revelations"
1997 Nash Bridges Jenny Episode: "Shake, Rattle & Roll"
2000 On Music Row Linda Rodgers TV film
2000 "Heroes and Sheroes" Self Reality TV

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.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 O'Neill, Jennifer (1999). Surviving Myself. W. Morrow. ISBN 978-0-688-15992-4.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Levitt, Shelley (January 18, 1993). "Seventh Heaven". People. Retrieved February 14, 2012.
  3. "Rio-Lobo - Trailer - Cast - Showtimes". The New York Times.
  4. Park, Louis Hillary (June 2002). "Summer of '42". TC Palm. Retrieved February 6, 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Buck, Jerry (March 5, 1983). "Jennifer O'Neill Swept Into Role In 'Bare Essence'". The News and Courier. p. 3-D.
  6. Cover Girl Advertising Oral History & Documentation Project, 1959–1990, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.
  7. Stevenson, Laura (November 24, 1975). "Unlucky in Love". People.
  8. Whitehouse, Franklin (October 24, 1982). "Shooting of Jennifer O'Neill is believed accidental". The New York Times.
  9. "THE REGION; O'Neill Shooting Called an Accident". The New York Times. October 26, 1982.
  10. "Actress claims shooting was accident", Minden Press-Herald, October 26, 1982, p. 1
  11. O'Neill, Jennifer (2002). From Fallen to Forgiven. Thomas Nelson. ISBN 978-0-8499-1715-8.
  12. "People vs. Politicians". National Catholic Register. May 8, 2007. p. 8.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Mosher, Megan (September 16, 2011). "Restoration House Celebrates 25 years". Daily Star. Hammond, Louisiana. Retrieved February 9, 2012.
  14. "Jennifer O'Neill Bio". The Grable Group. September 16, 2010. Retrieved January 29, 2012.

External links[]