Goodbye to Ryan O’Neal, star of Love Story and Barry Lyndon

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By John

Actor and heartthrob Ryan O’Neal, the Oscar-nominated star with a stormy life for films such as ‘Love Story’ and Stanley Kubrick’s ‘Barry Lyndon’, has died at the age of 82 in Los Angeles. His son made it known on Instagram. “This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say, but here we are. My father died peacefully today, with his loving team at his side supporting him and loving him as he would us,” Patrick O’Neal said on social media.

O’Neal, whose dashing looks and perfect jawline made him the ideal leading man, was also known for his tumultuous decade-long relationship with actress Farrah Fawcett. Born in the city of angels, son of art (his father was an American writer and screenwriter of Irish origins and his mother was an American actress of half Irish and half Ashkenazi Jewish origins), O’Neal made himself known to the general public by acting in the soap opera Peyton Place (from 1964 to 1969) as Rodney Harrington, alongside Mia Farrow.

But he achieved worldwide fame thanks to the interpretation of Oliver Barrett IV in the poignant film ‘Love Story’ (1970), which he played with Ali MacGraw and which earned him an Oscar nomination for best actor in 1971 and the David di Donatello for best foreign actor the following year, as well as a Golden Globe nomination. The film was a great success and that of Oliver Barrett was one of O’Neal’s most memorable roles.

The actor was married from 1963 to 1967 to actress Joanna Moore, with whom he had two children, actors Griffin and Tatum O’Neal. After the divorce, he entered into a new marriage with Leigh Taylor-Young, with whom he had his third son Patrick, who became a sports commentator. In 1972 he teamed up with Barbra Streisand for the zany comedy ‘What’s Up, Doc?’. The following year he starred in another great successful film, ‘Paper Moon’ – with his eldest daughter Tatum, who, thanks to this part, obtained the Oscar while still very young.

In 1975 he was chosen by Kubrick as the protagonist of the memorable ‘Barry Lyndon’. He was also considered for the parts of Rocky Balboa in ‘Rocky’ (1976) and Michael Corleone in ‘The Godfather’ (1972). At the end of the Seventies he met Farrah Fawcett, star of the television series Charliès Angels, who became his life partner until her death in 2009. Together they acted in several films including ‘Love’s Sacrifice’ (1989) and the TV series ‘Good Sports’ (1991), and they had a son, Redmond, born in 1985. In 2008 O’Neal was arrested, together with his son, at his home in Malibu, California, for drug possession.

Despite his turbulent private life, he continued his acting activity until a dozen years ago: in 2006 he joined the cast of the American television series ‘Bones’, in the role of the father of the protagonist Temperance Brennan. He also took part in some episodes of the TV series 90210 (2010).