Famed Hollywood actor Ryan O'Neal dead at age 82

December 9, 2023
by
Ben Marquis

One of Hollywood's brightest stars of the 1970s, leading man Ryan O'Neal, passed away on Friday at the age of 82, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

He is said to have died "peacefully" while surrounded by loved ones, and though no cause of death has been revealed, it is known that O'Neal previously battled diagnoses of leukemia in 2001 and prostate cancer in 2012.

"A Hollywood legend"

The famous actor's son, sportscaster Patrick O'Neal, shared the sad news of his father's death in an Instagram post and noted that it was "the toughest thing I've ever had to say. My dad passed away peacefully today, with his loving team by his side supporting him and loving him as he would us."

"My father Ryan O’Neal has always been my hero. I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life," the grieving son wrote, and later added, "He is a Hollywood legend. Full stop. The growth spurt of the first name Ryan can be traced back to my dad. That’s a fact."

The Hollywood Reporter noted that the son also said of his late father, "As a human being, my father was as generous as they come. And the funniest person in any room. And the most handsome clearly, but also the most charming. Lethal combo. He loved to make people laugh. It’s pretty much his goal. Didn’t matter the situation, if there was a joke to be found, he nailed it. He really wanted us laughing. And we did all laugh. Every time. We had fun. Fun in the sun."

Famed leading man in the 1970s

O'Neal was born in Los Angeles in 1941 to novelist-screenwriter Charles O'Neal and actress Patricia Callaghan and became a successful Golden Gloves boxer in the middle of the 1950s before moving to Munich, Germany with his family in the late '50s, where his career in the entertainment industry began as a stuntman on a TV show about Vikings that he enjoyed watching.

That career began in earnest in the early 1960s with several appearances on various TV series, including recurring roles on the Western-themed "Empire" and in the ABC drama "Peyton Place" which made him a star, but really gained fame as a movie star with the 1970 hit "Love Story."

Some of O'Neal's biggest leading man roles came during the following decade, including "What's Up, Doc?" "Paper Moon," "Barry Lyndon," "Nickelodeon," "A Bridge Too Far," "The Driver," and "The Main Event," among others.

His star dimmed a bit through the ensuing decades but he continued to appear in numerous other films and TV series, most recently a recurring role on "Bones," and had a total of 65 actor credits to his name, according to his IMDb page.

Per The Hollywood Reporter, Patrick added of his father, "My dad was 82 and lived a kick ass life. I hope the first thing he brags about in Heaven is how he sparred 2 rounds with Joe Frazier in 1966, on national TV, with Muhammad Ali doing the commentary, and went toe to toe with Smokin’ Joe. YouTube has it, and trust me, it’s so awesome. Ryan by a majority decision."

O'Neal's famous wives and children

O'Neal was quite the ladies' man during his heyday in the 1970s and he ultimately fathered four children with three women, including son Griffin and daughter Tatum O'Neal with his first wife, actress Joanna Moore, as well as son Patrick with his second wife, actress Leigh Taylor-Young, whom he starred alongside in "Peyton Place."

The actor most famously had a decades-long on-and-off-again relationship with actress Farrah Fawcett, with whom he had a son Redmond, and was with her when she died of cancer in 2009.

According to the Associated Press, O'Neal had occasionally tough relations with his children, including a few run-ins with the law, but especially with Tatum, whom he starred alongside in "Paper Moon" when she was still a child, and though they were estranged from each other for decades they later reconciled their differences as part of a reality TV show.

Tatum O'Neal said of her father's passing in a statement to People magazine, "I feel great sorrow with my father's passing. He meant the world to me. I loved him very much and know he loved me too. I'll miss him forever and I feel very lucky that we ended on such good terms."

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