The Oscar-nominated actor's career was often overshadowed by his personal struggles.
Ryan O'Neal, an actor whose tumultuous personal life always threatened to overshadow his work in films like the early-’70s hits Love Story and Paper Moon, has died at the age of 82.
His son Patrick O’Neal, a sportscaster for Bally Sports West, said he died Friday in an Instagram post. The late actor had been diagnosed with chronic leukemia in 2001 and with prostate cancer in 2012, after he was previously treated for myelogenous leukemia in the 1990s. His prostate cancer diagnosis came three years after the death of his longtime love Farrah Fawcett, who died from anal cancer at 62.
Patrick said his late father "lived a kick ass life" in his remembrance. "I hope the first thing he brags about in heaven is how he sparred two rounds with Joe Frazier in 1966, on national TV, with Muhammad Ali doing the commentary, and went toe to toe with Smokin’ Joe." Of his father and Fawcett, he added, "And now they meet again. He has missed her terribly. What an embrace that must be. Together again."
A representative for O'Neal didn't immediately respond to EW's request for comment.
The son of screenwriter Charles O’Neal and actress Patricia Callaghan, Patrick Ryan O’Neal landed his first major acting role in 1962 on NBC’s Western Empire. On that show, he met actress Joanna Moore. The two married in 1963 and had two children, actors Tatum and Griffin. O’Neal’s big break came in 1964, when he landed the role of Rodney Harrington on ABC’s prime-time soap Peyton Place, which ran for five years. While appearing on the series, O’Neal met actress Leigh Taylor-Young. O’Neal and Moore divorced in 1967 and O’Neal married Taylor-Young that same year; the couple divorced in 1972 but share son Patrick.
By the ‘70s, O’Neal began to come into his own as an actor. In 1970, he starred opposite Ali MacGraw in Love Story, the tale of an intense but doomed romance that became a box office blockbuster and earned O’Neal his first and only Oscar nomination for Best Actor. (The two would later reunite in 2015 for Love Letters, a Love Story revival on the stage.) The role led to a series of hits, including 1972’s What’s Up, Doc? with Barbra Streisand and 1973’s Paper Moon with his daughter, Tatum, who earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar at the age of 9 for the role.
In 1979, O’Neal met actress Fawcett and the two began their infamous 17-year relationship. In 1985, Fawcett gave birth to their son, Redmond. The couple eventually starred in the short-lived CBS 1991 sitcom Good Sports, which only lasted two episodes. Unfortunately, it was the personal struggles of O’Neal and his family that garnered more attention than his acting. In 2007, O’Neal was arrested for allegedly assaulting his son Griffin (prosecutors dismissed the charges). He and son Redmond were arrested in September 2008 after authorities found methamphetamine in the actor’s house during a probation check on Redmond (Ryan pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to participate in an 18-month drug program). Tatum, Griffin, and Redmond have all had well-documented struggles with drug or alcohol addiction.
Though O'Neal had complicated relationships with his children, he had recently reunited with daughter Tatum in 2020 after over a decade of estrangement. Their attempt at reconciliation was also documented in the 2011 OWN reality series Ryan & Tatum: The O’Neals.
O'Neal's personal life became increasingly public after Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006. The actor rallied around his longtime companion until her death in June 2009. She had reportedly agreed to marry him though no ceremony could be arranged before cancer claimed her life. In 2012, O'Neal published a memoir, Both of Us: My Life With Farrah, about their love story.
O'Neal is survived by his four children and five grandchildren.
Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.