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Talk Softly: A Memoir [Kindle Edition]

Cynthia O'Neal
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition, May 4, 2010 $13.20  
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Book Description

Actress and model Cynthia O'Neal was living her dream life—married to the famous stage and screen actor Patrick O’Neal, the mother of two young sons, resident of the Dakota downstairs from John Lennon, owner of the successful Ginger Man restaurant, and frequent guest at dinner parties with Leonard Bernstein and Rudolf Nureyev.
And then she changed course suddenly, surprisingly, and completely. The AIDS epidemic hit the arts community hard, and after seeing the multitude of people facing an unfamiliar and stigmatized disease completely alone, Cynthia walked into the fray. With the support of longtime friend Mike Nichols, she founded Friends in Deed and soon found herself spending her days in hospitals, cramped rooms, and dirty apartments, anywhere a patient needed a hug, a hand held, or confidence boosted. And when Patrick became ill and passed away in 1994, Cynthia had to work through her own grief instead of someone else’s and found her life transformed again.
Talk Softly is the story of a life well-lived—with passion and compassion, in celebration of the joy of each moment, and with the ability to surprise yourself when you least expect to.

Editorial Reviews


"Talk Softly is a beautifully written memoir of a 'noisy life,' intricately structured, heartbreaking as well as joyous, and tense as a thriller. With its wide cast of characters—from cultural icons to the even more wondrous portraits of Archie and Brazilian John and Pamela and many others (people seldom, if ever, written about)—it is a deeply moving portrait of our time. I keep thinking that this is what civilization means."—Michael Ondaatje

About the Author

Born in Los Angeles, CYNTHIA O'NEAL modeled and appeared in films, including Carnal Knowledge and Primary Colors. In 1991 she founded Friends in Deed—The Crisis Center for Life-Threatening Illness—which has helped transform many thousands of lives by providing emotional and spiritual support for anyone diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, cancer, and other life-threatening physical illnesses, where all services are free of charge. O'Neal currently lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1626 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press; 1 edition (May 4, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004X4PO5A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,433,354 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two lives... December 19, 2011
Cynthia O'Neal is the widow of the late movie actor and Broadway performer, Patrick O'Neal. Her memoir, "Talk Softly" is about the two worlds she lived in simultaneously for many years - her public life in an actors' milieu and her private life as an AIDS activist.

O'Neal is active in the New York City group "Friends In Deed", which she began in the early 1990's with close friend, Mike Nichols. The group's aim is to provide support to those diagnosed with AIDS and other life-threatening diseases. O'Neal writes about the sessions she leads to help the sick and the bereaved and how she, along with others, have helped ease the dying out of this world. There's not much - if any - "religion" in what the group does, but O'Neal and the others do the work most of us cannot bear to do. She writes lovingly of the many young men and women she helped council and comfort through their diseases.

Alongside her work at "Friends In Deed", she also was the wife of a prominent actor and the mother of two sons, as well as the part-owner of a restaurant, "The Ginger Man", located near Lincoln Center. Long a fixture in the neighborhood, the restaurant is now called "O'Neals". She also had her hands full at home; husband Patrick was an alcoholic and drug addict who lived "dry" for long periods of his life, but had relapses that were difficult for the entire family to cope with. The O'Neals lived in many apartments in New York during their long marriage, but perhaps the most notable residence was the Dakota. They were living there when John Lennon was assassinated in 1980 and she writes movingly about the aftermath of the shooting.

Cynthia O'Neal has not had an easy life, but it seems to have been highly interesting.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk Softly----worth reading May 1, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an incredible woman's story about AIDS in the 90's and a life well lived.
I cannot imagine how somebody wouldn't receive some benefit from reading Talk Softly, by Cynthia O'Neal.

This is a small book for your day at the beach this summer.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Memorable August 4, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a deeply personal story of one woman making a real difference to the world. Founded at a very scary time when AIDS was wreaking much fear and suffering, Friends in Deed was a powerful way to let people know they were not alone by providing them with both pragmatic and spiritual support. FID founder Cynthia O' Neal has helped many faced with life-threatening illness realize just how special they are--and how united we all are in life's winding journey. This memoir is a page-turning testament that one person can have a profound impact. Above all, Ms. O' Neal's tale is very real and full of quirk and foibles. I'm touched that she so openly shares her doubts and challenges. Her accounts of her own struggles remind us we don't have to aim for perfection, we just have to give life our best shot. If we do, truly great things can happen. This is a fascinating tale told with great wit, insight--and above all--style. A book that will stay with you for a very long time...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book September 18, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I couldn't put the book down. Having had the honor of experiencing Cy in person, in the big groups at Friends In Deed, I can only say that she is truly a magnificent person, who has created a place where anyone dealing with life's challenges can come and feel safe and part of a community.

I can't say enough about Cy, about Friends In Deed, and about the book. Just read it and give copies to friends. I have learned more about love, kindness and strength in the few years I've been coming to FID (and to the Mastery) than I learned in my whole life.
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