The Oscar-nominated 'Love Story' actor died at age 82. Look back at his career, love life and ups and downs
From his soap opera beginnings to Oscar nomination, O'Neal's work spanned decades; along the way he became a father to four children. Later in life, O'Neal was diagnosed with chronic leukemia in 2001 and with prostate cancer in 2012. His son, Patrick O'Neal, said his dad "passed away peacefully" Dec. 8.
Take a look back at Ryan O'Neal's life through his early roles, career-defining milestones, family history and rollercoaster relationships.
Ryan O'Neal's Early Days
Born in Los Angeles in 1941 to screenwriter Charles and actress Patricia, O'Neal broke into acting while living in Germany in high school and returned to L.A. to start his career. His big break came in 1964 with a role on Peyton Place, and stardom soon followed.
O'Neal was married twice in his life, first in 1963 to actress Joanna Moore (pictured here with their daughter Tatum) with whom he had daughter Tatum and son Griffin; they separated in 1966 and O'Neal eventually got custody of their children due to Moore's issues with addiction.
In 1967, he wed Leigh Taylor-Young, with whom he shared son Patrick. They split in 1974.
Ryan O'Neal's Daughter Tatum Is His Costar – and an Oscar Winner
In 1973, O'Neal starred in Paper Moon with his daughter Tatum, with the two playing a pair of father-daughter con artists. Young Tatum's performance would earn her an Academy Award — making her the youngest person ever to do so, at age 10.
Ryan O'Neal's Relationship with Farrah Fawcett
O'Neal's romance with Farrah Fawcett was tumultuous and full of heartbreak, but their love story never truly ended, even after the actress died at age 62 in 2009. The actor continued to profess his unwavering passion for the Charlie's Angels star, with whom he welcomed their son Redmond in 1985.
"There was never a day I didn't love her," Ryan told PEOPLE on the 10-year anniversary of Fawcett's death.
Ryan O'Neal in 'Love Story'
Ryan and Ali MacGraw made cinematic history with the 1970 romantic drama, which earned them both Oscar nominations. During their shared star ceremony, the former costars reflected on the massive success of Love Story, and MacGraw praised Ryan as a screen partner.
“I have to say that the great joy was that I was lucky enough to work with Ryan on this film. From the second we met it was just wonderful,” she said during their double ceremony. “I have rarely had an experience in my long working life that was as joyful as this."
Ryan O'Neal's Lasting Friendships
In 2002, Ryan reunited with his Love Story costar at the Academy Awards where the film's director, Arthur Hiller, was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
In 2021, both MacGraw and Ryan got their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in honor of the film's 50th anniversary.
Ryan O'Neal's Hollywood Success
In addition to his career-making turns in Paper Moon and Love Story, Ryan had a lasting tenure in Hollywood, acting in films including Barry Lyndon, What's Up, Doc? and The Driver and TV shows including Bones. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015.
Ryan O'Neal Showed Support for Farrah Fawcett After Her Death
On numerous occasions, Ryan stepped out to support the Farrah Fawcett Foundation, which the actress launched in in 2007. Here, Ryan is seen at the organization's Tex-Mex Fiesta in 2017 in L.A.
Fawcett and O'Neal reconnected after a long separation when he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, and he took care of her throughout her final few years with anal cancer until her death in 2009;
Ryan O'Neal's Relationship with His Children
The star and his children shared difficulties throughout the years, including Tatum's battle with drug addiction and long estrangement from her father, Griffin's own addiction struggles and Ryan's shared arrest with son Redmond for drug possession, among other things. In recent years, members of the family had begun attempting to repair their fractured relationship.
Ryan O'Neal's Last Years
In September 2020, Ryan reunited with his daughter Tatum and her three kids — Sean, 36, Emily, 32, and Kevin McEnroe, 37 — whom she shares with former tennis pro John McEnroe.
Sean shared an Instagram post from their special moment at home. He included a throwback photo from the last time all five family members were together, at the 30th anniversary of Tatum and Ryan's 1973 dramedy Paper Moon.
"This is one of the most memorable photos of my life," Sean began in his caption. "I could cry tears of gratitude that everyone in this photo is still alive and that we were all able to come together again after so many years of hardship."
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