Jennifer O'Neill (born February 20, 1948) is an American actress. She was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the daughter of a Spanish-Irish businessman and his English wife.
As a teenager, O'Neill started to work as a model and appeared in TV commercials and on magazine covers. In 1968, she landed a small role in For the Love of Ivy. In 1970, she played a minor role in Rio Lobo, starring John Wayne.
After her success in Summer of '42 in 1971, in which she plays the young widow of a soldier killed in the war, O'Neill became a well-known Hollywood actress, and continued acting for the next two decades, although seldom again in roles that challenged her acting abilities. (One which did was the role of the grasping mistress in Luchino Visconti's final masterpiece, L'Innocente ). She had more success in TV movies, including performances in Love's Savage Fury and in Bare Essence.
A self-described "romantic", O'Neill has been married six times, and has a daughter by her first husband, and two sons from later marriages. A lifelong competitive rider, she has suffered serious back injuries due to falls, and in the 1980s her name was in the news after she accidentally shot herself in the abdomen with a gun belonging to her then husband.
Worse yet, her television career was hit with tragedy. In 1984, on the CBS television series Cover Up, Jon-Erik Hexum, the lead male actor on the series (she was the lead lady), was killed on the studio when he handled a blank (prop bullet in a gun) which hit him. The series ended after just one season, after Anthony Hamilton became the new lead.
More recently, O'Neill has started to write, and has published From Fallen To Forgiven, a book of biographical notes and philosophical thoughts about life and existence.
The actress, who had an abortion at the age of nineteen has, in recent years, become a pro-life activist.