His son Patrick O'Neal wrote in an Instagram tribute that his father "passed away peacefully" Dec. 8, calling him "a Hollywood legend"
Ryan O'Neal, the iconic actor who was Oscar-nominated for his role in the 1970 romance Love Story has died. He was 82.
His son Patrick O'Neal wrote in an Instagram tribute that his father — who had been diagnosed with chronic leukemia in 2001 and with prostate cancer in 2012 — "passed away peacefully" Dec. 8, calling him "a Hollywood legend."
Born in Los Angeles on April 20, 1941, to screenwriter Charles O’Neal, and Patricia, an actress, O'Neal broke out in the soap opera Peyton Place in 1964. He went on to lead hit films including Peter Bogdanovich's 1972 comedy What's Up, Doc? opposite Barbra Streisand.
In 1973, he joined his then pre-teen daughter Tatum O'Neal in Paper Moon, which earned him another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.
The late star is survived by four children: Tatum, 60, and Griffin, 59, who he shared with Joanna Moore; Patrick, 56, who he shared with Leigh Taylor-Young; and Redmond, 38, who he shared with Farrah Fawcett.
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O’Neal expressed more than once he didn’t consider himself the greatest talent onscreen. Of his most famous role, Love Story’s preppy Harvard student Oliver Barrett in, he once said, “I didn’t worry about whether I was preparing enough for the part. I’m not into study and research much. I made sure I looked right — you know, the right scarf, the right sweater.”
While the golden boy look immortalized in that movie made him famous, it was his turbulent life off screen that made lasting headlines. As his son Griffin once told PEOPLE: “The O’Neal family is as talented as hell but we’re as screwed up as a soup sandwich.”
As a kid, O’Neal had a taste for adventure and trouble. By the time he was a teenager, he once said, “I knew life was a kick and part of the fun, I guess, was getting into a lot of fights.”
After competing as a Golden Glove boxer, he became a stunt man and then actor in TV western Empire, where he met and eventually married costar Moore.
O’Neal then married Peyton Place costar Taylor-Young in 1967 — the day after he finalized his divorce from Moore.
Other than his onscreen reunion with Streisand in 1979's The Main Event, O’Neal experienced a string of box office disappointments — but he had other pursuits. In 1979, his friend, Six Million Dollar Man star Lee Majors, asked O’Neal (who had since divorced Taylor-Young) to look after his wife, Fawcett. While Majors was away on a film shoot, O’Neal and Fawcett went on a date, which he described to the L.A. Times: “We sat and kissed and kissed until our lips were bloody.”
Following Fawcett and Majors’ subsequent divorce, O’Neal had no regrets, telling the New York Daily News, “I lost interest in nearly everything but this woman. For the first time in my life, something took precedence over myself.”
O’Neal and Fawcett would go on to have blowout fights, however. In the middle of one violent episode, Redmond, then six, allegedly threatened to hurt himself with a butcher knife unless they stopped fighting, a scene which O’Neal described in his 2012 memoir Both of Us: My Life With Farrah.
After a split in 1997 O'Neal and Fawcett remained friends, and in 2001 rekindled their romance when he was diagnosed with leukemia at age 60. She moved back part time to his Malibu home and told PEOPLE in 1997: “Part of us will always be together.”
Five years later, he was at her side after she was diagnosed with anal cancer. “It’s a love story,” O’Neal said of their relationship in a 2009 interview with PEOPLE. “I just don’t know how to play this one. I won’t know this world without her.”
After years of estrangement, O’Neal reunited with his daughter Tatum. He said at the time that Fawcett's death in 2009 played “a very big role” in their reconciliation.
“It was as if time stood still,” he told PEOPLE in 2010 of seeing her for the first time in years. “She’s so happy. This is a different person than I remember.”
“He told me he’s sorry,” shared Tatum at the time. “He’s all I have in terms of family, and I needed him in my life. My dad was absolutely everything to me.”
O’Neal continued working on the big and small screens in later years, costarring with Katharine Hepburn, Cher, Alicia Silverstone and more. From 2005 to 2017, he made recurring appearances on the TV drama Bones.
In his memoir Both of Us, O’Neal wrote that the memory of his time with Fawcett was what carried him through life’s toughest times. “I feel her sometimes,” O’Neal told PEOPLE. “It’s a nice feeling. It reminds me that I did have a life and a love… It went too fast, that’s all.”
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