Ryan O’Neal, ‘Love Story’ and ‘Paper Moon’ Star, Dies at 82

“This is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to say … My dad passed away peacefully today,” O’Neal’s son, Patrick, wrote in an Instagram post

Ryan O'Neal (Getty)
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Ryan O’Neal, star of “Love Story” and “Paper Moon,” has died at 82. His son, Patrick, shared the news on Instagram Friday.

“So this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to say but here we go,” Patrick O’Neal, wrote. “My dad passed away peacefully today, with his loving team by his side supporting him and loving him as he would us.”

“This is very difficult for my wife Summer and I, but I will share some feelings to give you an idea of how great a man he is,” the post continued. “My father Ryan O’Neal has always been my hero. I looked up to him, and he was always bigger than life.”

O’Neal started his professional life as an amateur boxer before pivoting to acting in 1960. His first major role was playing Rodney Harrington on ABC’s nighttime soap opera “Peyton Place.”

A Los Angeles native, he was born on April 20, 1941, to his mother, actress Patricia Ruth Olga, and his father, screenwriter and novelist Charles O’Neal. While attending University High School, he trained to be a Golden Gloves boxer. His family then relocated to Munich, Germany when his father landed a job writing on the TV series “Citizen Soldier.” Utilizing her resources, O’Neal’s mother got him a job as a stand-in on the series “Tales of the Vikings” because O’Neal was having trouble academically.

His first TV appearance came in 1960 when he guest starred on “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.” He went on to have more roles in TV, starring in “The Untouchables,” “Two Faces West” and “My Three Sons,” among others.

“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. 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,’” Patrick O’Neal’s post continued.

In 1970, O’Neal played wealthy Harvard law student Oliver Barrett IV alongside Ali MacGraw in the hit romantic film “Love Story.” His role in the film came as a recommendation from the movie’s cowriter Erich Segal. Later making his way into comedies, O’Neal costarred in “What’s Up, Doc?” with Peter Bogdanovich in 1972, whom he reunited with a year later for their roles in “Paper Moon.” The movie also gave him the opportunity to star opposite his daughter Tatum O’Neal, who was 9 years old at the time.

O’Neal married his first wife, actress Joanna Moore, in 1963. Together they brought two children — Tatum and Griffin — into the world before exiting their relationship in 1966. Patrick O’Neal, who celebrated his father as a “Hollywood legend,” was born after marrying his second wife, Leigh Taylor Young. They divorced in 1974.

“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,” Patrick wrote. “He was Rodney Harrington on ‘Peyton Place’ three days a week. (He starred in 500 shows over 5 years.) And then of course the name Ryan peaked after ‘Love Story,’ the film that saved Paramount Studios and earned my dad a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.”

O’Neal is survived by his children Patrick, Tatum, Griffin and Redmond.


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