SURVIVING MYSELF by Jennifer O'Neill


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An apt title for an autobiography of actress/model O’Neill, who attempted suicide when she was 14, broke her neck and back in three places when she was 15, once shot herself by accident, and is now on husband number eight. People probably remember O’Neill more for her years as the icon for Cover Girl makeup than for her role in the movie Summer of ’42 and the numerous other TV and film characters she has portrayed. Her problems seem to have begun when she was nine years old and humiliated by her schoolmates and her father over a pair of pink suede shoes. She was further traumatized when her parents refused to buy her a horse and only reluctantly gave in to the dog and the cat that she longed for. Treating her suicide attempt as a bid for attention, her parents forced her to abandon her pets when they moved from Connecticut to New York City soon after. New York led to the modeling career that would make her famous; she was only 15. She married her first husband at 17, had a daughter, and then checked herself into a mental institution. Checking out after electric shock treatment, she enjoyed her first film success, her first divorce, and her first remarriage—to a student of Eastern philosophy. As she moved from success to success, divorce and remarriage in fact became her mantra. Husband number five gave her another child, but for years he also sexually molested her 11-year-old daughter and emptied O—Neill’s considerable bank account. She rebuilt the bank account, found God and a second son with husband number six (although he was fond of prostitutes), remarried him after husband number seven (whose ’secret” she will never tell), and has at last settled for happiness in Nashville with number eight, a horse farm, and a commitment to born-again faith. Whew! It’s not easy being beautiful.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-688-15992-3
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1999