Ryan O’Neal, a leading star in the Hollywood in the 1970s known for iconic films such as Love Story and Paper Moon, has died, according to a series of emotional posts from his son. He was 82.
On Friday, Patrick O’Neal shared on Instagram that his father had died “with his loving team by his side supporting him and loving him as he would us”. He went on to “share some feelings to give you an idea of how great a man he is”. Patrick described his father as “my hero.
“I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life. When I was born in 1967 my dad was already a TV star on Peyton Place. That’s where he met my mom Leigh Taylor-Young, and about 9 months later (give or take a date night or two) I was born,” he wrote.
The younger O’Neal then went on to chronicle some of the television shows and films that launched his father into global superstardom.
“My dad became an international movie star with Love Story at the beginning of the 1970s, a decade he absolutely crushed by starring in movies like What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Barry Lyndon, A Bridge Too Far, The Main Event, and The Driver.
He is a Hollywood legend. Full stop,” he wrote.
The news of O’Neal’s death comes in the wake of two cancer diagnoses. The actor had been diagnosed with chronic leukemia in 2001 and then with prostate cancer in 2012.
O’Neal made his way as an actor by starring in various US television shows in the 1960s. He was a guest actor on shows like The Untouchables, General Electric Theater, Leave It to Beaver and more. He went on to be a regular on NBC’s Empire and later the primetime serial drama Peyton Place. He catapulted to global fame in 1970 upon starring opposite Ali MacGraw in Love Story, a film that nabbed him Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
After Love Story, O’Neal starred opposite Barbra Streisand in What’s Up, Doc? and The Main Event. Between those films, he made a splash alongside his then 9-year-old daughter, Tatum O’Neal, in the 1973 film Paper Moon, again earning a Golden Globe nomination.
He played the lead in Stanley Kubrick‘s Barry Lyndon in 1975 and starred in many other films throughout the 70s, 80s, 90s and well into the aughts.
In his personal life, O’Neal was married to and divorced from fellow actresses Joanna Moore and Leigh Taylor-Young, with whom he starred in Peyton Place. He later had a three-decade-long, on-and-off relationship with Farrah Fawcett of Charlie’s Angels. The pair were together upon her death in 2009.
O’Neal was the father to four children: Tatum O’Neal and Griffin O’Neal, whom he had with his first wife, Moore; Patrick O’Neal with his second wife, Taylor-Young and Redmond James Fawcett O’Neal with his longtime partner Fawcett.
In another post shared by Patrick, the actor was lauded as a skilled, hard worker who “just loved acting plain and simple”.
“He was adept at memorizing pages of dialogue in an hour. I hope he felt proud of his career but he was very humble. And boy did he love the crew on those shoots. He always treated everyone on the set so well. They loved him, I saw it first hand,” the younger O’Neal wrote.
In the final of three posts, Patrick concluded: “Ryan never bragged. But he has bragging rights in Heaven. Especially when it comes to Farrah. Everyone had the poster, he had the real McCoy. And now they meet again. Farrah and Ryan. He has missed her terribly. What an embrace that must be. Together again.
“I’ll miss you dad. I love you. We love you.”
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