Tributes paid after actor Ryan O'Neal passes away, aged 82

Tributes paid after actor Ryan O'Neal passes away, aged 82

TRIBUTES have been paid to actor Ryan O'Neal, who passed away on Friday at the age of 82.

The Love Story star had endured health issues over the past two decades, having been diagnosed with leukaemia in 2001 and prostate cancer in 2012.

Breaking the news of his father's passing, Patrick O'Neal described the late star as 'a Hollywood legend'.

"My father Ryan O’Neal has always been my hero," he said.

"I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life."


Born on April 20, 1941 to parents of Irish descent, O'Neal had a career as an amateur boxer before moving into acting.

After a series of television roles, he got his big break by landing the part of Rodney Harrington in the soap opera Peyton Place in 1964.

He then became a household name around the world thanks to his performance in the 1970 hit movie Love Story, for which he and co-star Ali MacGraw received Oscar nominations.

O’Neal and daughter Tatum O’Neal pictured in 2011 (Image: Michael Buckner/Getty Images For PSFF)

O'Neal's fame grew after appearing alongside Barbara Streisand in the 1972 box office smash, What's Up, Doc?

That led to him being cast in the title role of Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, which tells the story of an Irish rogue who plots his way into high society in England.

Although it has since been positively re-evaluated and is now considered a classic by many, the film initially received a mixed reception and O'Neal reportedly felt it had a lasting and detrimental effect on his career.

A few domestic box office misses followed, although the likes of A Bridge Too Far (1977) and The Driver (1978) found more success overseas than in the US.

A 1978 sequel to Love Story was a critical and commercial flop, however, a reunion with Streisand for 1979's The Main Event saw O'Neal close out the decade on a high with another box office hit.

Patrick O'Neal with his father in 2014 (Image: Jason Kempin/Getty Images)

He would struggle to recapture the success of his early days but reunited with MacGraw in 2015 for a stage production of AR Gurney's play, Love Letters.

A few years later in 2021, the two actors were honoured with stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

O'Neal's last screen role was in the hit TV series Bones, in which he had a recurring role as the father of lead character Temperance Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel.


O’Neal was married twice and was also in a long-term relationship with actress Farrah Fawcett from 1979 until her death in 2009, although the pair separated between 1997 until 2001.

He had four children, including actress Tatum O'Neal, who won an actor for her performance alongside her father in 1973's Paper Moon.

Tatum and younger brother Griffin were born to O'Neal's first wife Joanna Moore, while he and his second wife Leigh-Taylor Young welcomed Patrick in 1967.

His fourth child, Redmond, was born to Fawcett in 1985.


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O'Neal had a somewhat tumultuous relationship with his children, however, Patrick and Tatum were among those to pay tribute to the actor.

Tatum told People that she will miss her father forever and was happy that despite a turbulent relationship over the decades, 'we ended on such good terms'.

In his Instagram post announcing his father's death, Patrick said: "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."

'Wonderful actor'

Streisand, meanwhile, described O'Neal as 'funny and charming'.

"So sad to hear the news of Ryan O'Neal's passing," she posted on Twitter.

"We made two films together, What's Up, Doc? and The Main Event. He was funny and charming, and he will be remembered."

Frank Marshall, who produced some of O'Neal's movies, including Paper Moon, felt the actor was under-appreciated.

"We made five pictures together. Ryan O'Neal was a wonderful actor who never got the credit he deserved. Farewell my friend," he posted on Twitter.

The official Twitter account of late director Kubrick recalled O'Neal's role in Barry Lyndon, which the Irish Times hailed in 2020 as the greatest Irish film ever.

"We are deeply saddened to hear that the Oscar nominated, 60-year acting veteran, Ryan O'Neal has passed away," Kubrick's team posted.

"To us he will always be remembered as the loveable cad Barry Lyndon.

"Of his experience working with Stanley, Ryan said 'it was magnificent, you never really get over an experience like that, working with someone like him'."

O'Neal's Peyton Place co-star Mia Farrow said that while they didn't often get the chance to see each other, the friends regularly kept in touch by phone.

"I hope he will rest in peace. My thoughts are with his children. Tatum will always be my friend," the Rosemary's Baby star wrote on Instagram.

Fawcett and O’Neal in 2003 (Image: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

The Farrah Fawcett Foundation, which was established by the actress before her death to advance cancer research, said the two stars 'are together now'.

"We are so deeply saddened by the loss of Ryan O'Neal who has been a tremendous supporter of the foundation since its inception," read a statement.

"We honored Ryan last year for his support of our work in the Cancer world and Farrah's legacy.

"Although tumultuous at times, he was the love of Farrah's life and was there through her cancer battle.

"They are together now. RIP Ryan."