Sunday, June 2, 2013

Cherry Boone O'Neill speaks...

I often get hits on this blog from people looking for information about Debby Boone, who is now pitching Lifestyle Lifts.  A lot of people seem to think Debby Boone has suffered from eating disorders.  I don't know about Debby's history with eating disorders, but her older sister Cherry did suffer from anorexia nervosa back in the 70s.   I read Cherry's book for the first time sometime in the mid 1980s.  Then in the late 80s, I wrote a high school paper about her book for a psychology class I took.

Many years later, I still have an odd fascination with the Boone family.  Last night, I found a video Cherry Boone O'Neill made in which she talks about her battle with anorexia nervosa and the psychology behind why a person might develop an eating disorder.  The book is a good read, too, especially since it was written at a time when people didn't know much about eating disorders.

I think watching that video was the first time I've ever actually heard Cherry speak.


  1. I had heard Cherry Boone O'Neill speak on an old VHS tape where she appeared on something called "The John Davidson Show." My mom still had the tape from something she was doing when she was working on her doctorate, although eating disorders wasn't the main focus of my mom's studies or anything like that. The show aired in the early 80's -- Cherry may have been promoting her book. Her first child was just a baby, maybe six months old, and was brought out for the audience to see.

    At the time I remember thinking that Cherry wasn't as pretty on tV as in still shots because there was something odd in the way she produced her /s/ sounds. It was technically a frontal lisp, but not the type where a person sticks his or her tongue through the teeth, but just sticks it behind the lower teeth so that an almost whistling sound is produced. It wasn't the sound so much as the look that was distracting. She doesn't seem to do that anymore.

    Cherry has aged well considering what her body has been through, although I don't really know what work she may have had done. She doesn't look surgically enhanced, though. She appears to be aging naturally but well. She's got to be about 59 or so.

    Pat Boone always said in his books and interviews (although he was very quick to pigeonhole his daughters into the categories he saw them in and seemed to expect them to stay there; it's funny that in that early pigeonholing, he totally missed out on the fact that Debby had a voice; I don't think the two of them ever really clicked, and he probably wouldn't have wanted to give her credit for something even had he noticed it back in the days when he was having so much trouble with her) that Cherry was the most intelligent of his daughters. Compared to Debby, she's an absolute genius. I don't think she got any significant post-high school education, though. At that time, it wasn't in the plans for her, and Pat was very controlling, as you know. I believe Laury, the youngest, is the only one with a bachelor's degree. Laurie went to Pepperdine (which is operated by the Church of Christ, from which her parents were kicked out because of charismatic practice, interestingly enough)and I think still teaches high school English.

    it's good that she's been able to use her intelligence in such a positive way. I wonder about her as a mother. Are eating disorders an all-encompassing obsession to her, which woukld certainly affect her children, or is it just like a career and/or philanthropic endeavor. (I'm thinking of that fictional M.E. Kerr book "Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack" from the late 70's, where the mother was so wrapped up in her anit-drug cause that her obese daughter was screaming for attetion and actually graffitied the title of the book on a prominent brick wall to get her mother's attention. A parent too embedded in a cause sometimes isn't much of a parent, but then, parents have rights to their own lives. One must strike a balance.

    I've often been accused of being anorexic because I'm small-boned but still with prominent bones, and I don't have a huge appetite, either for junk food, filet mignon, or anything else. my metabolism is rapid, food travels through me at a cheetah's pace, and I'm relatively active when I'm awake. Fortunately for me, I inherited this from my mom, so she's been able to advocate for me with doctors who want to do the full eating disorder evaluation once again. It became a major issue when I was in a residential mental health facility when I was 16/17. If my mom hadn't advocated for me, I would have had to be on 24-hour watch for several days, which I'd already been through once before just to satisfy a relentless doctor, and it had been established that there was no eating disorder.

  2. Cherry will turn 59 the day my husband turns 49. I agree, she is very intelligent. Her book was way better than Debby's was, not just because the subject matter was more compelling, but because she just has more writing talent. She also comes across as a nicer person.

    You would never know it to look at me now or even when I was a teen, but I used to flirt with eating disorders. It took a long time to stop the behaviors and stop obsessing about dieting and food. I would say it went on from the time I was about 11 or 12 until I was in my mid 20s. It was at that point, of course, I started seeing a psychiatrist for depression and he encouraged me to diet... and even prescribed Topamax to get me to lose weight. It didn't work.

  3. By the way... I remember the John Davidson show, vaguely. It was one of many talk shows that were on in the early 80s.

  4. Something just occurred to me. You mentioned that Cherry had a lisp back in the day. Could it be because she had dental problems? In her book, she writes that her teeth took a beating from all the vomiting she did. She had trouble with enamel erosion. Perhaps she was lisping back then because her teeth were bothering her. Looking at her teeth now, it appears that she got them fixed.

  5. I did think about that. On that "John Davidson" program, Cherry said she'd spent $10,000 on crowns for all her bicuspids and molars, and that was in the early 80's before dental work costs skyrocketed. Maybe she wasn't used to the feeling of full teeth.

  6. Cherry does come across as a genuinely nice person. From what I've seen of her, Laury, the youngest daughter is very nice as well. (one of my uncles has a friend who is a friend of Pat Boone, so I've seen most of them a couple times. I don't know about lindy. I can't get a fell for her one wayor another. Debby struggled in school, probably because she wasn't all that bright, and then her ego got the better of her when she became the one-hit wonder that she was and is.
    pat boone is a college graduate, but he didn't encourage his daughters to be educated beyond high school. Laury sort of did it to spite her parents, although they did pa for it.

    1. The only thing I know about Lindy is that she, too, has a really beautiful voice. I heard her sing to her son, Ryan, one time on Larry King and she could have given Debby a run for her money. Also, if you watch that video of the sisters singing that Billy Gilman song, she sings second to Debby and hear her. In that same clip, you can see Debby shoot Cherry a dirty look for messing up.

      I don't know that Debby is necessarily dumb. In her book, she implies that she's kind of lazy. She explains that she got her sisters to do her homework for her and took delight in getting other kids in trouble. She would even manipulate her sisters into taking a beating from their dad. I will submit that Debby can definitely sing. I have a jazz album she did in honor of her late mother-in-law and it's good... she even does a song with her sisters on it. But I get the sense that she's egotistical and manipulative, which turns me off.

      Someone on YouTube commented that Laury was her English teacher and she loved her.

  7. I SO disagree with the comments about Debby-her book is SO much better than Cherry's book. She writes with compassion and, I've met her several times, is very nice and very friendly. Check out her facebook page-she let's us in on her family photos, knitting stories and links, etc. Debby's sister's have kept things to themselves. Lindy use to run a site called Ryan's Reach dedicated to her son and would update his condition almost monthly-it was interesting to read these and pray for him. The updates stopped August/2012 and she encouraged everyone to buy the book she was writing instead of updates. Just weird. Out of everyone in the Boone family, I think Debby turned out to be the most normal of all of them.

    1. You are certainly entitled to your opinion about Debby's and Cherry's books, and thanks for sharing it here on my blog. I have read Lindy's book about her son and his accident. He has made amazing progress, under the circumstances.

      I think my main issue with Debby's book is that she wrote it when she was still very young and had many years of living ahead of her.


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