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Former Hollywood Heartthrob Ryan O’Neal Dead at Age 82

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Former Hollywood Heartthrob Ryan O'Neal Dies at Age 82

Ryan O’Neal, who rose from a TV soap opera to an Oscar nomination for his role in “Love Story” and produced a witty performance in “Paper Moon,” died on Friday. “My father died peacefully today,” his son wrote on Instagram.

There was no mention of a cause of death. Ryan O’Neal was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012, a decade after being diagnosed with chronic leukemia for the first time. He was 82.

In the 1970s, Ryan O’Neal was one of the world’s biggest movie stars, working across genres with several of the era’s most acclaimed directors, including Peter Bogdanovich on “Paper Moon” and “What’s Up, Doc?” and Stanley Kubrick on “Barry Lyndon.” He frequently employed his young, blond good looks to play men with shady or dangerous histories hidden beneath their clean-cut appearances.

O’Neal continued a consistent television acting career into his 70s in the 2010s, with appearances on “Bones” and “Desperate Housewives,” but his prolonged romance with Farrah Fawcett and his troubled family life kept him in the spotlight.

Twice divorced, O’Neal was sexually involved with Fawcett for about 30 years, and they had a son, Redmond, in 1985. The pair divorced in 1997, but remarried a few years later. He stayed at Fawcett’s side as she battled cancer, which took her life in 2009 at the age of 62.

O’Neal fathered actors Griffin O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal with his first wife, Joanna Moore, including his co-star in the 1973 film “Paper Moon,” for which she received an Oscar for best supporting actress. With his second wife, Leigh Taylor-Young, he had a son named Patrick.

Ryan O'Neil

Ryan O’Neil’s Rocky Ties

Ryan O’Neal received his own Oscar nomination for best actor for the 1970 tearjerker drama “Love Story,” co-starring Ali MacGraw, about a young couple who fall in love, marry, and discover she is dying of cancer. The classic, but frequently satirized, statement from the film is: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

The actor had rocky ties with three of his children, including alienation from his daughter, squabbles with son Griffin, and a drug-related arrest prompted by his son Redmond’s probation check. Although his attempts to reunite with Tatum O’Neal were transformed into a short-lived reality series, his personal drama frequently overshadowed his later career.

Before gaining a prominent role on the prime-time soap opera “Peyton Place” (1964-69), O’Neal appeared in a few bit parts and did some stunt work.

Following that, O’Neal made his feature film debut in 1969 with “The Big Bounce,” co-starring his then-wife, Taylor-Young. But it was “Love Story” that catapulted him to stardom.

The romantic melodrama became one of Paramount Pictures’ biggest hits and received seven Academy Award nominations, including one for best picture. It took home the award for best music.

After “Love Story” catapulted him to stardom, Ryan O’Neal was considered for nearly every big leading job in Hollywood. The studio even tried to get him to play Michael Corleone in “The Godfather” before director Francis Ford Coppola insisted on Al Pacino.

O’Neal then appeared in Bogdanovich’s 1972 screwball comedy “What’s Up, Doc?” as a clumsy professor opposite Barbra Streisand.

The year following “What’s Up, Doc?” Bogdanovich cast him in the 1930s con artist comedy “Paper Moon.”

Ryan and Tatum

Tatum, his real-life daughter

Ryan O’Neal portrayed an unscrupulous Bible salesman who preyed on widows he found through obituary notices. Tatum, his real-life daughter, played a trash-talking, cigarette-smoking orphan who need his assistance and eventually helps rehabilitate him.

Although both actors were praised by reviewers, the small girl’s outspoken performance overshadowed her father’s, making her the youngest individual in history to win a competitive Academy Award. She was ten years old when she received the prize in 1974.

The elder O’Neal’s next notable role was in Stanley Kubrick’s 18th-century epic “Barry Lyndon,” in which he played an impoverished Irish rogue who traversed Europe pretending to be an aristocracy.

However, filming the three-hour film was arduous work, and Kubrick’s legendary perfectionism caused a schism between him and the actor that never healed.

After that, O’Neal reunited with Tatum in Peter Bogdanovich’s early Hollywood comedy “Nickelodeon” (1976). However, the picture was a disappointment, and they never collaborated again. With the sequel “Oliver’s Story” (1978), he attempted to capitalize on his “Love Story” character, Oliver Barrett.

Father and daughter grew apart as Tatum grew older, with the elder actor learning of his daughter’s marriage to tennis great John McEnroe via a belated telegram, according to Ryan O’Neal, who wrote about his connection with Fawcett in a 2012 book.

“A door inside me locked the morning the telegram came, and I am still blindly searching for the key to open it,” O’Neal said in the letter titled “Both of Us.”

 

Griffin O'Neil

O’Neil’s Son Convicted and Jailed

In the 1980s, O’Neal’s career cooled further with the emerald heist drama “Green Ice” (1981) and the 1984 comedy “Irreconcilable Differences,” in which he played a busy father in an unhappy marriage whose daughter, played by 9-year-old Drew Barrymore, attempted to divorce her parents.

Ryan O’Neal’s personal life also hit rock bottom during the decade. Griffin Coppola had multiple run-ins with the law, including a 1986 boating accident in Maryland that killed Gian-Carlo Coppola, 23, son of film director Francis Ford Coppola. Griffin O’Neal was convicted of operating a boat carelessly and recklessly, received a community service sentence, and later served a brief stint in jail as a result.

With his Hollywood fame dwindling, Ryan O’Neal began appearing in TV movies and finally returned to series television with the 1991 sitcom “Good Sports,” co-starring then-lover Fawcett, although the show only lasted one season.

Both admitted that the work had put a strain on their relationship.

“We get into fights,” stated O’Neal in 1991. “She’s a tough cookie.” She anticipates being well-treated. On a set, that might get forgotten when you’re fighting the clock and trying to create a moment.”

Ryan Oneil

Redmond O’Neal’s arrest

Ryan O’Neal began taking on more supporting roles in the 1989 picture “Chances Are.” In “Faithful” (1996), he played a husband who employs a hitman to kill his wife, and in “Zero Effect” (1998), he played a mystery businessman.

His relationship with Fawcett had ended by then, but they stayed friends and resumed their romance in the 2000s. However, the tumultuous O’Neal family dynamics that had previously tested their relationship continued.

The elder O’Neal was detained in 2007 for alleged assault and weapon discharge during a confrontation with Griffin, but charges were dropped. Redmond, their son, was constantly arrested, incarcerated, and spent several years in court-ordered treatment.

In September 2008, a probation check at his father’s Malibu house resulted in Redmond O’Neal’s arrest for methamphetamine possession.

Ryan O’Neal pleaded guilty and entered a drug diversion program, but he publicly denied owning the drugs. He claimed he took them from his son in order to protect him.

On April 20, 1941, Charles Patrick Ryan O’Neal was born, the son of playwright Charles O’Neal and actress Patricia Callaghan O’Neal. Before becoming a performer, Ryan O’Neal worked as a lifeguard and an amateur boxer.

Source: VOR News

 

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