Ryan O’Neal, ‘Love Story’ and ‘Paper Moon’ Star, Dies at 82

Ryan O’Neal, ‘Love Story’ and ‘Paper Moon’ Star, Dies at 82
Ryan O’Neal background

Introduction

Ryan O’Neal, one of the most popular and versatile actors of the 1970s, has died at the age of 82. His son, Patrick O’Neal, confirmed the news on Instagram, posting a photo of his father with the caption: “Rest in peace, Dad. I love you.”

O’Neal rose to fame with his romantic and comedic roles in films such as Love Story, What’s Up, Doc? and Paper Moon, earning an Oscar nomination for his performance as a young lawyer who falls in love with a terminally ill woman in Love Story. He also starred in dramas such as Barry Lyndon, The Driver and The Main Event, showcasing his range and talent.

Ryan O’Neal background

O’Neal was born in Los Angeles on April 20, 1941, the eldest son of actress Patricia O’Callaghan and novelist and screenwriter Charles O’Neal. He had a brother, Kevin, who was also an actor and screenwriter. O’Neal trained as an amateur boxer before beginning his career in acting in 1960. He made his first TV appearance on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and followed it with guest roles on various shows, such as The Untouchables, Leave It to Beaver, and The Virginian.

In 1964, he landed the role of Rodney Harrington on the ABC nighttime soap opera Peyton Place. It was an instant hit and boosted O’Neal’s career. He played the handsome and rebellious son of a wealthy family, who had a tumultuous romance with Allison MacKenzie, played by Mia Farrow. O’Neal stayed on the show until 1969, earning two Golden Globe nominations for his performance.

O’Neal also made his film debut in 1964, in a small role in The Wheeler Dealers, starring James Garner and Lee Remick. He then appeared in films such as The Big Bounce (1969), The Games (1970), and Wild Rovers (1971), but none of them were very successful. His breakthrough came in 1970, when he starred opposite Ali MacGraw in Love Story, a tearjerker based on the best-selling novel by Erich Segal. The film was a huge hit, grossing over $100 million at the box office, and becoming one of the highest-grossing films of all time. O’Neal received an Oscar nomination for his role as Oliver Barrett IV, a Harvard student who marries a working-class girl, Jenny Cavilleri, despite his father’s disapproval. The film also spawned the famous line, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”.

O’Neal followed Love Story with two successful comedies directed by Peter Bogdanovich: What’s Up, Doc? (1972) and Paper Moon (1973). In What’s Up, Doc?, he co-starred with Barbra Streisand in a screwball comedy inspired by the films of Howard Hawks and Cary Grant. In Paper Moon, he played a Depression-era con man who teams up with a young girl, who may or may not be his daughter, to swindle people out of money. The girl was played by O’Neal’s real-life daughter, Tatum O’Neal, who won an Oscar for her performance at the age of 10, making her the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award. O’Neal himself was nominated for a Golden Globe for his role.

O’Neal also worked with some of the most acclaimed directors of his time, such as Stanley Kubrick, Richard Attenborough, and Walter Hill. He starred in Kubrick’s epic period drama Barry Lyndon (1975), playing an Irish rogue who rises and falls in 18th-century Europe. He played a British officer in Attenborough’s war film A Bridge Too Far (1977), which featured an ensemble cast of stars, such as Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Anthony Hopkins, and Robert Redford. He played a getaway driver in Hill’s neo-noir thriller The Driver (1978), which influenced later films such as Drive (2011).

O’Neal’s personal life was as eventful as his professional one. He was married twice, first to actress Joanna Moore, with whom he had two children, Tatum and Griffin, and then to actress Leigh Taylor-Young, with whom he had another son, Patrick. He also had a long-term relationship with actress Farrah Fawcett, who was best known for her role in Charlie’s Angels. They met in 1979, and had a son, Redmond, in 1985. They separated in 1997, but reunited in 2001, and remained together until Fawcett’s death from cancer in 20091. O’Neal also had several affairs with other famous women, such as Anouk Aimée, Jacqueline Bisset, Diana Ross, and Barbra Streisand.

O’Neal faced many challenges and controversies in his life, such as drug addiction, legal troubles, family disputes, and health issues. He strugled with heroin and cocaine abuse, and was arrested several times for possession and assault. He had a strained relationship with his children, especially Tatum and Griffin, who also battled with addiction and crime. He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, and underwent treatment for several years. He also had a feud with the University of Texas over the ownership of an Andy Warhol portrait of Fawcett, which was eventually settled in 2013. He wrote a memoir, Both of Us: My Life with Farrah, in 2012, in which he expressed his love and regret for Fawcett and his children.

Summary

Ryan O’Neal was one of the most charismatic and versatile actors of his generation, who left a lasting impression on the film industry and the audience. He starred in some of the most iconic and influential films of the 1970s, and worked with some of the greatest directors and co-stars of his time. He was nominated for an Oscar, two Golden Globes, and a BAFTA, and won two Golden Globes and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He inspired and influenced many other actors and filmmakers, who admired his talent and charm. He was also a devoted partner to Farrah Fawcett, and a loving father to his four children.

O’Neal’s death has saddened and shocked his family, friends, and fans, who have expressed their condolences and tributes on social media and in the press. He will be remembered as a legend of the silver screen, and a man who lived a full and adventurous life. As he said in Love Story, “What can you say about a 25-year-old girl who died? That she was beautiful and brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.” What can we say about Ryan O’Neal, who died at 82? That he was handsome and brilliant. That he loved movies and music. And Farrah. And us.

Written by Vikram

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