Ryan O'Neal


Actor
Ryan O'Neal

About

Also Known As
Charles Patrick Ryan O'Neal
Birth Place
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born
April 20, 1941

Biography

One of the biggest screen actors of the 1970s, Ryan O'Neal had his first big career break when he played Rodney Harrington on the popular primetime soap, "Peyton Place" (ABC, 1964-69), O'Neal broke through with an Oscar-nominated turn in the classic tearjerker, "Love Story" (1970). From there, he starred opposite Barbra Streisand in the screwball comedy "What's Up, Doc?" (1972) and was c...

Family & Companions

Joanna Moore
Wife
Actor. Married in 1963; divorced in 1967; born c. 1934; died on November 22, 1997 of lung cancer.
Leigh Taylor-Young
Wife
Actor. Become romantically involved c. 1966; married in 1967; divorced c. 1972.
Juanita Brown
Companion
Actor, later agent. Linked romantically in the 1970s.
Barbra Streisand
Companion
Actor, singer. Co-starred together in "What's Up, Doc?" and "The Main Event".

Notes

In May 2001, O'Neal disclosed that he was diagnosed with leukemia on his 60th birthday (April 20).

"The turnaround [in my career] was 'Barry Lyndon'. Now people say it's my best work. But I never got a good job after it. I didn't have an image ... I knew I wasn't good. I was ordinary. I developed up to a point, and then ... I stopped trying, I nearly gave up. I'd made a lot of money in the early 1970s and I'd put it all into old-age trailer parks, so I had about $20 million in real estate--I didn't need to work." --Ryan O'Neal in Vanity Fair, February 1991.

Biography

One of the biggest screen actors of the 1970s, Ryan O'Neal had his first big career break when he played Rodney Harrington on the popular primetime soap, "Peyton Place" (ABC, 1964-69), O'Neal broke through with an Oscar-nominated turn in the classic tearjerker, "Love Story" (1970). From there, he starred opposite Barbra Streisand in the screwball comedy "What's Up, Doc?" (1972) and was cast by Stanley Kubrick in "Barry Lyndon" (1975). But it was his turn opposite his daughter, a young Tatum O'Neal, in Peter Bogdanovich's "Paper Moon" (1973) that solidified his stardom. He also starred in such movies as "Nickelodeon" (1976), "A Bridge Too Far" (1977) and "The Main Event" (1979), and in the 1980s he would star in "Irreconcilable Differences" (1984) and "Tough Guys Don't Dance" (1987). Following that time period, he took a step back from acting to deal with some health and family issues. O'Neal survived cancer in 2006, and stood by longtime love Farrah Fawcett's side during her battle with the disease until her death in 2009.

Ryan Patrick O'Neal was born in Los Angeles on April 20, 1941, and spent much of his childhood abroad. His mother, Patricia Callaghan, was a stage actress who had appeared in a few films such as "Rosemary's Baby" (1968), and his father, Charles "Blackie" O'Neal, was a screenwriter and novelist. As a teenager, O'Neal attended University High School in West Los Angeles and trained to be boxer. He became a Golden Gloves contender, with an amateur boxing record of 18-4 with 13 knockouts. In the late '50s, the family relocated to Germany, where Blackie O'Neal was working as a writer on Radio Free Europe broadcasts. Ryan graduated from Munich American High School in 1959. That same year, he made his TV debut as a stunt man in the German TV series, "Tales of Vikings" (syndicated, 1959-1960), which both his parents were working on at the time.

When the O'Neals returned to the States, the sandy-haired hunk found small parts in comedy series like "Dobie Gillis" (CBS, 1959-1963) and Westerns such as "The Virginian" (NBC, 1962-1971) before landing his first big break with a recurring role (in over 500 episodes!) on the early seminal soap opera, "Peyton Place" (ABC, 1964-69). He appeared in his first feature film in 1969, an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's "The Big Bounce," in which he co-starred with his then-wife, Leigh Taylor-Young. But it would be the following year, when he was chosen from a pool of 300 actors to play opposite Ali McGraw in the melodramatic "Love Story," that everything changed for the handsome actor. The big screen newcomer netted an Oscar nomination for his role as a buff jock who endures the loss of his great love to a rare blood disease.

An overnight star, O'Neal followed this up with a co-starring role as the bumbling professor Howard Bannister opposite Barbra Streisand in the screwball comedy classic, "What's Up Doc?" In 1973, he and real-life daughter, Tatum O'Neal, paired up to play Great Depression era grifters in the black and white modern classic, "Paper Moon" - arguably his best film and one for which 10-year-old Tatum won an Academy Award. O'Neal was now one of the top-grossing lead men in Hollywood, but he experienced his share of lackluster flops films - including "Barry Lyndon" (1975) and "Oliver's Story" (1977) - before his next big success, 1979's campy "The Main Event." Again re-teamed with an afro-sporting Streisand, the couple reignited their onscreen chemistry to box office success, but the film was hardly in the same league as their first effort. Hollywood legend has it that O'Neal had been considered for the lead roles in "The Godfather" (1972) and "Rocky" (1976), both of which might have given him more staying power and street cred with the industry. But the parts famously went to other actors, Al Pacino and Sylvester Stallone, respectively.

By all accounts, the witty actor's true talents had lain in the comedies and romantic dramas that had propelled him to stardom, but during the 1980s, his cinematic momentum stalled. Most of his films during that period were forgettable, with the sole exception being "Irreconcilable Differences" (1984). In the modest box office hit, he delivered a fine portrayal of a Hollywood director and father coping with divorce, starring opposite Shelley Long and a young Drew Barrymore. O'Neal returned to television in 1991 for the short-lived CBS sitcom, "Good Sports." Fortunately the failed series boasted one bright spot for O'Neal: working alongside his longtime lover, 1970s icon Farrah Fawcett, with the two playing co-anchors. For the rest of the nineties, he showed up as a wealthy pinstripe-clad business type in several TV and film roles - most memorably in the quirky independent film, "Zero Effect" (1998) starring Bill Pullman and then-unknown Ben Stiller. O'Neal eventually regained some credibility footing on the small screen, with recurring roles on the stock market drama "Bull" (TNT, 2000-01) and Alicia Silverstone's "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003), as well as guest appearances on top shows, "Bones"(Fox, 2005- ) and "Desperate Housewives" (ABC, 2004-2012).

Earning a reputation early on for a heavy dating schedule, O'Neal was linked with some of the hottest ladies of the big and small screen throughout the years, including Mick Jagger's former wife, Bianca Jagger, fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg, Diana Ross, and co-star Barbra Streisand. His close friendship with Lee Majors of "Six Million Dollar Man" (ABC, 1974-78) fame unsurprisingly fizzled once O'Neal began dating Majors' ex, Farrah Fawcett, in a very public relationship that would last 17 years. The two were never married but had son Redmond in 1985. Prior to Fawcett, O'Neal had been married to actress Joanna Cook Moore, a troubled woman who battled drug and alcohol problems, with whom he had future famous children, Tatum and son Griffin. He had also been married to actress Leigh Taylor-Young, with whom he had a son, Patrick, in 1967.

The various incarnations of the O'Neal families were no strangers to tabloid headlines. His relationship with Fawcett was on-again/off-again, with the former "Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981) star coming under attack several times for dazed and incoherent television show appearances, suggesting drug problems. Daughter Tatum had been making news over several decades for her drug addiction, suicide attempt, and marriage to volatile tennis star John McEnroe. In 2004, she wrote a tell-all autobiography, A Paper Life, that graphically painted her father as neglectful and abusive towards her and her brother Griffin, as well as heaping blame on him for exposing her to the drug-riddled Hollywood atmosphere as a kid. O'Neal denied her accusations, and in an interview during his run on Alicia Silverstone's "Miss Match," he was quoted as saying that Silverstone was the daughter he wished that he had had.

O'Neal's parental problems were not strictly daughter-centric. In a high-profile 1983 incident, the actor was accused of knocking out son Griffin's front teeth during an argument. A toothless Griffin's face was promptly splashed across periodicals, tarnishing O'Neal's reputation at that time. Things would get even messier, when some 20 years later, an altercation between O'Neal and his now 42-year-old son resulted in assault charges against the father. O'Neal maintained that the shots he fired at his Malibu home during an argument with Griffin were not meant to harm, but rather, scare away his son, who had allegedly come after his dad with a fireplace poker. During the melee, Griffin's pregnant girlfriend, JoAnne Berry, was struck in the face with the poker. An accusatory "who-started-it" went back and forth between the two, in full view of the media, with O'Neal's friends jumping to his defense and Tatum, not surprisingly, siding with her brother. As with his sister, this was not the first time the troubled Griffin had made headlines. Previously, he had been arrested for drunk driving and, in 1986, was charged with reckless boating for an incident resulting in the death of his friend and director Francis Ford Coppola's son, Gian-Carlo Coppola. Griffin would go eventually be indicted for manslaughter for his role in the tragic accident.

Despite the messiness of the various family run-ins and accusations, in 2001, O'Neal received an outpouring of public sympathy when he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, a type of blood cancer. He was treated and officially declared to be in remission when, ironically, his former lover, Fawcett, was diagnosed in September of 2006 for rectal cancer. O'Neal stood by her side in a very public display of affection. The two were interviewed for having survived their ordeals together as supportive friends with a great deal of love still between them. While Fawcett reported that she was cancer-free in 2007, reports surfaced that her condition had turned malignant and that she was seeking alternative treatment in Germany. But the news was overshadowed when O'Neal was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon and negligent discharge of a firearm after an altercation with his son, Griffin. He was released after posting $50,000 bail.

In 2008, O'Neal added to his legal problems when he and his son, Redmond, were arrested for felony drug possession of methamphetamine after Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies conducted a probation search on his son, who was previously arrested for felony possession of meth and heroin, and driving under the influence. According to the L.A. district attorney's spokesperson, the narcotics were found in O'Neal's shoes which were inside his bedroom. O'Neal pled guilty to the charge of felony possession in a Malibu courtroom. The charge was to be cleared from his record pending successful completion of a court-approved drug diversion program. Meanwhile, news about Fawcett's rapidly declining health resurfaced in the winter of 2009, especially after the two-hour video diary, "Farrah's Story" aired on NBC to nine million viewers. On the program, O'Neal was shown supporting her through numerous cancer treatments and attempting humor to keep her spirits it up. It was a true testament to the love the couple had for one another. O'Neal taped an interview with Barbara Walters on "20/20" (ABC, 1978), where he declared that his long-time companion was "fighting for her life." He kept his spirits up by also stating that he intended to finally marry her after 26 years of him asking for her hand. But before the interview could be aired, Fawcett succumbed to her cancer on the morning of June 25, 2009, with family and friends by her side at a Santa Monica, CA hospital. She was 62.

Life Events

1956

Competed as an amateur boxer, winning the Los Angeles Golden Gloves in 1956 and 1957

1959

Was a stunt performer on the German TV series "Tales of the Vikings"

1962

Made TV series debut as a regular on "Empire" (NBC)

1964

Gained popularity as Rodney Harrington on the ABC series "Peyton Place"

1969

Feature film debut, "The Big Bounce"

1970

Breakthrough film appearance, starring opposite Ali MacGraw in the romantic drama "Love Story"; earned Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Actor

1972

First screen teaming with Barbra Streisand, "What's Up, Doc?"

1973

Starred opposite daughter Tatum in Peter Bogdanovich's feature "Paper Moon"; earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor

1975

Played the title role in Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon"

1977

Featured in Richard Attenborough's World War II epic "A Bridge Too Far"

1978

Reprised Oscar-nominated role for the sequel "Oliver's Story"

1981

Second collaboration with Streisand, the boxing comedy "The Main Event"

1982

Played a police detective posing with John Hurt as a gay couple in the comedy feature "Partners"

1984

Starred alongside Shelley Long and Drew Barrymore in the comedy "Irreconcilable Differences"

1985

Played a compulsive gambler in "Fever Pitch"

1987

Starred in Norman Mailer's "Tough Guys Don't Dance"

1989

Last film released for seven years, "Chances Are"

1989

Acted opposite real life love Farrah Fawcett in the ABC TV-movie "Small Sacrifices"

1991

Returned to series TV on the short-lived CBS sitcom "Good Sports"; also co-starred Farrah Fawcett

1992

Starred with Katharine Hepburn in the Lifetime movie "The Man Upstairs"

1996

First film in seven years, played Cher's cheating spouse in "Faithful"

1998

Co-starred with Bill Pullman in Jake Kasdan's debut feature "Zero Effect"

2000

Featured in the independent romantic comedy "Coming Soon"

2000

Cast in a recurring role in the TNT series "Bull"

2003

Cast as Alicia Silverstone's father Jerry Fox on the NBC series "Miss Match"

2003

Portrayed a movie star in the feature "People I Know"

2003

Played the parents (with Bo Derek) to Jamie Kennedy's character in "Malibu's Most Wanted"

2005

Guest starred on an episode of "Desperate Housewives" (ABC) as Lynette Scavo's (Felicity Huffman) father-in-law

2006

Landed recurring role on the Fox series "Bones" as Max Keenan

2011

Co-starred with daughter on the documentary series "Ryan & Tatum: The O'Neals" (OWN), also executive produced

Photo Collections

Wild Rovers - Publicity Stills
Here are a few Publicity Stills from Wild Rovers (1971). Publicity stills were specially-posed photos, usually taken off the set, for purposes of publicity or reference for promotional artwork.

Videos

Movie Clip

Love Story (1970) - It's A New World Location shooting in the Bronx to represent her Rhode Island hometown, Jenny (Ali McGraw) introduces her fiancè Oliver (Ryan O’Neal), of the famous and affluent Barrett family, to her baker father (whom she calls Phil, John Marley), who immediately thinks he can mend fences in his family, in Love Story, 1970, directed by Arthur Hiller.
Nickelodeon (1976) - That Crab Is Pure Genius! Lawyer Harrigan (Ryan O'Neal), swept into the entourage of early-movie magnate Cobb (Brian Keith), becoming a screenwriter (supplanting Arnold Soboloff, and Don Calfa as "Waldo") then meeting Kathleen (superodel Jane Hitchcock in her only major movie role), in Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon, 1976.
Nickelodeon (1976) - Did You Say Court? From a prologue about early cinema, befuddled lawyer Harrigan (Ryan O'Neal), Jack Perkins his client, before the judge (Sidney Armus), then fleeing down an alley into the movie business, and a quick bit by Brian Keith, in Peter Bogdanovich's Nickelodeon, 1976.
Love Story (1970) - I Think You're Scared Shooting around Harvard Yard in rain and snow, a favorite sequence from Erich Segal’s script, directed by Arthur Hiller, and a milestone in the relations between affluent Oliver (Ryan O’Neal) and working-class Jenny (Ali MacGraw) in Love Story, 1970, which became the sixth highest-grossing picture ever made.
Love Story (1970) - Open, I'm Smart And Poor Gazing at the Wollman Rink in Central Park and reflecting, with the first use of the hit theme by Francis Lai, Ryan O’Neal as Harvard blue-blood Oliver Barrett IV recalls his first meeting with Jenny (Ali MacGraw), from the Erich Segal screenplay (which he also adapted into the top selling novel of the same year), in the box office smash Love Story, 1970, directed by Arthur Hiller.
Love Story (1970) - Never Say Love If You Don't Mean It Following their first date (at his hockey game), Radcliffe gal Jenny (Ali MacGraw) with Harvard man Oliver (Ryan O’Neal) who returns to join his roommates (including Tommy Lee Jones, one of author Erich Segal’s models for Oliver’s character), then chatting outside Harvard Stadium, in Love Story, 1970.
Love Story (1970) - What Is It Your People Are In? Driving his MG TC-Midget up to the doors of the Phipps Estate (Old Westbury, Long Island, NY) Oliver (Ryan O’Neal) guides his less-affluent de-facto fianceè Jenny, from Rhode Island and Radcliffe, through a first meeting with his parents, Ray Milland (appearing in a film without his hairpiece, for the first time) and Katharine Balfour, in Love Story, 1970.
What's Up, Doc? (1972) - I Don't Think Of You As A Woman In San Francisco for the musicology convention, Howard (Ryan O’Neal) from Iowa prepares with his fianceè Eunice (Madeline Kahn) to meet the philanthropist offering a big research grant, Peter Bogdanovich directing from the screenplay by Buck Henry, David Newman and Robert Benton, in What’s Up, Doc?, 1972, starring Barbra Streisand.
What's Up, Doc? (1972) - We've Almost Got That Stammer Cured Already detained by rival Simon (Kenneth Mars), panicked musicologist Howard (Ryan O’Neal) meets Larrabee (Austin Pendleton), provider of the grant for-which they’re competing then, aided by Randy Quaid, finds mischievous Judy (Barbra Streisand) impersonating his fianceè, in What’s Up Doc, 1972.
What's Up, Doc? -- (1972) -- (Original Trailer) Director Peter Bogdanovich joins stars Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal for this full-on tongue in cheek trailer for the 1972 comedy hit What's Up, Doc?, also the feature debut of Madeline Kahn.
What's Up, Doc? (1972) - There Was A Plaid Overnight Case Opening with the storybook from the screenplay by Buck Henry, Robert Benton and David Newman, we meet Michael Murphy, followed by Phil Roth, then Ryan O’Neal and Madeline Kahn at San Francisco International, then Barbra Streisand, apparently by happenstance, in Peter Bodganovich’s hit rom-com, What’s Up, Doc?, 1972.
What's Up, Doc? (1972) - As Time Goes By Baffled musicologist Howard (Ryan O’Neal), ejected from his San Francisco hotel for hijinks the night before, winds up on the roof, and meets the perpetrator, the still-sexier Judy (Barbra Streisand), who has news about his grant, director Peter Bogdanovich with a big wink to Casablanca, in What’s Up Doc, 1972.

Trailer

Family

Charles O'Neal
Father
Novelist, screenwriter. Acted in Orson Welles' Todd summer festival 1934; died on September 1, 1996.
Patricia O'Neal
Mother
Actor.
Kevin O'Neal
Brother
Actor, screenwriter.
Tatum O'Neal
Daughter
Actor. Born on November 5, 1963; mother, Joanna Moore; formerly married to tennis pro John McEnroe.
Griffin O'Neal
Son
Actor. Born on October 28, 1964; mother, Joanna Moore.
Patrick O'Neal
Son
Actor. Mother, Leigh Taylor-Young; born September 14, 1967; has child with Rebecca DeMornay.
Redmond James O'Neal
Son
Born on January 30, 1985; mother, Farrah Fawcett.

Companions

Joanna Moore
Wife
Actor. Married in 1963; divorced in 1967; born c. 1934; died on November 22, 1997 of lung cancer.
Leigh Taylor-Young
Wife
Actor. Become romantically involved c. 1966; married in 1967; divorced c. 1972.
Juanita Brown
Companion
Actor, later agent. Linked romantically in the 1970s.
Barbra Streisand
Companion
Actor, singer. Co-starred together in "What's Up, Doc?" and "The Main Event".
Farrah Fawcett
Companion
Actor. Together from 1979 until separation in 1997.
Leslie Stefanson
Companion
Actor. Born c. 1971; dating as of February 1997.

Bibliography

Notes

In May 2001, O'Neal disclosed that he was diagnosed with leukemia on his 60th birthday (April 20).

"The turnaround [in my career] was 'Barry Lyndon'. Now people say it's my best work. But I never got a good job after it. I didn't have an image ... I knew I wasn't good. I was ordinary. I developed up to a point, and then ... I stopped trying, I nearly gave up. I'd made a lot of money in the early 1970s and I'd put it all into old-age trailer parks, so I had about $20 million in real estate--I didn't need to work." --Ryan O'Neal in Vanity Fair, February 1991.