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Ryan O'Neal, Oscar-nominated actor from 'Love Story,' dies at 82: 'Hollywood legend'

Ryan O'Neal, whose rogue charm and matinee idol good looks brought 1970s super-stardom with his Oscar-nominated performance in "Love Story" and "Paper Moon" and from his glamorous relationship with Farrah Fawcett in the 1980s, has died at 82.

The actor had battled myriad illnesses later in life, including leukemia and prostate cancer.

His son, sportscaster Patrick O'Neal, shared the news in a series of Instagram posts on Friday.

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

"He is a Hollywood legend. Full stop," he added.

Los Angeles Angels TV play-by-play announcer Patrick O'Neal, right, poses with his father, actor Ryan O'Neal, before a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., May 21, 2022.
Los Angeles Angels TV play-by-play announcer Patrick O'Neal, right, poses with his father, actor Ryan O'Neal, before a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Anaheim, Calif., May 21, 2022.

Ryan O'Neal acted alongside Ali MacGraw, Barbra Streisand and daughter Tatum O'Neal

The one-time Golden Gloves boxer found his Hollywood star rise with the role of heartthrob Rodney Harrington in TV's nighttime soap opera "Peyton Place," appearing in 501 episodes from 1964 to 1969.

But O'Neal was intent on movie stardom, landing his major breakthrough role as upper crust Harvard student Oliver Barrett IV who falls for working class Radcliffe College student Jenny Cavilleri (Ali MacGraw) in 1970's "Love Story."

The romantic tragedy, Jenny's vibrant life is cut short due to cancer, and the movie's famed lined "Love is never having to say you're sorry" became an instant cultural classic. The box office smash was nominated for nine Oscars, including best picture and a best actor nomination for O'Neal, his only Academy Award recognition. "Love Story" remains No. 9 on the most romantic films of all time by the American Film Institute.

O'Neal's fame accelerated with his next movie, starring with Barbra Streisand in director Peter Bogdanovich's 1972 screwball comedy "What's Up, Doc? (1972)," the third-highest-grossing of that year. He reunited with Bogdanovich in "Paper Moon," to play a smooth-talking Depression-era swindler reluctantly saddled with his headstrong nine-year-old daughter — played by his real-life daughter Tatum.

'I almost died': Tatum O'Neal opens up about her 2020 overdose, stroke, recovery

Tatum O'Neal says dad Ryan O'Neal 'meant the world to me'

While O'Neal would not receive an Oscar nomination for his critically praised performance in "Paper Moon," the comedy drama would earn Tatum a historic best supporting actress Academy Award at age 10 in 1974.

O'Neal called to congratulate his daughter for her Oscar from London where he was shooting the period drama "Barry Lyndon" with director Stanley Kubrick. But the aftermath marked the beginning of his off-screen drama with oft-estranged daughter Tatum. "In the press, he played the doting father," she wrote in "A Paper Life," her 2004 memoir. "But in his eyes, I read the truth: deep resentment that his own brilliant performance was being dismissed."

After 20 years of not speaking, the estranged father and daughter appeared in a 2011 reality show on Oprah Winfrey's OWN network titled "Ryan and Tatum: The O'Neals," which lasted for nine episodes as the two tried to reconcile their differences.

During a 2018 interview with Megyn Kelly, Tatum O'Neal looked into the camera and sent a message to her estranged father, saying: "I want to say to my dad, if you're watching this, I love you. I've always loved you and forgiveness is the best policy."

O'Neal cut off ties with Tatum O'Neal's brother Griffin (his second child with Joanna Moore) following a volatile relationship. The father remained close to sportscaster son Patrick (with second wife Leigh Taylor-Young).

Tatum O'Neal shared in a statement to People magazine on Friday that she feels a "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," she added.

Barbra Streisand pays tribute to Ryan O'Neal

O'Neal would never recapture the critical heights from this span of hits, even appearing in high profile roles such as Brig. General Gavin in the critically panned 1977  World War II drama "A Bridge Too Far." He re-teamed with Streisand as a boxer in the critically derided 1979 sports romantic comedy "The Main Event" and starred with Candace Bergen in a "Love Story" sequel, 1978's "Oliver's Story," which was a critical and commercial flop.

Streisand remembered O'Neal in an Instagram post shortly after news of his death became public Friday.

"So sad to hear the news of Ryan O'Neal's passing," Streisand wrote in a caption of a photo of the two of them on the set of Bogdanovich's film.

"He was funny and charming, and he will be remembered," she added.

Ryan O'Neal remembered Farrah Fawcett 'lit up the day' when they first met

In the 1980s, most of the attention around O'Neal was through the paparazzi lens, centered around his relationship with "Charlie's Angels" star Fawcett, once the wife of O'Neal's good friend Lee Majors.

"I first saw her in the driveway and she lit up the day; the sun came out," O'Neal told USA TODAY in 2012 about their first meeting in 1979. "But I didn't see her as someone for me. She was married to a friend."

The two would come together to form a Hollywood super couple, a passionate and turbulent relationship that was chronicled in the tabloids. Never married, their son Redmond was born in 1985.

While they broke up in 1997, the couple reunited in 2006 before Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer. "I stayed as close to her as I could, and she needed me," he said to USA TODAY. O'Neal said they decided to get married as Fawcett was in hospital close to death. "The priest at St John’s Hospital arrives to marry us but administers the last rites instead," he said.

O'Neal was at Fawcett's side when she died on June 25, 2009.

"I asked her to forgive me, forgive me for everything," he recalled USA Today. "I still ask her that."

He would come to terms with his relationship with Fawcett, chronicling their love story in the sepia-toned memoir "Both Of Us."

Ali MacGraw was 'one of the few women who will still talk to me,' Ryan O'Neal joked

The actor stepped back into new TV work with a reoccurring role in "Bones" from 2006-2017 as star Temperance Brennan's (Emily Deschanel) father Max, which continued through a 2012 diagnosis of stage 2 prostate cancer.

But the "Love Story" star turned to fully embracing his past glory, reuniting with MacGraw at Harvard University for the 45th anniversary of the film in February 2016. The two toured together internationally with the stage production "Love Letters" which follows a couple through years of a relationship.

During a press conference to promote the play, O'Neal admitted to a 45-year unrequited crush on MacGraw.

"And she’s one of the few women who will still talk to me," he joked.

O'Neal claimed to continue speaking to Fawcett, even in death. During his 2012 interview with USA TODAY, he discussed shooting a scene for "Bones" in a beautiful Hollywood church where he kneeled and reached out to Fawcett in prayer.

"I prayed only to her. No middleman. I'm still asking for her forgiveness," he said. "But she is why I don't fear passing. I know she's waiting for me."

Ryan O'Neal and longtime love Farrah Fawcett are 'together again,' son says

Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett (photographed in 1989) were romantically involved for nearly 30 years, and they had a son, Redmond, born in 1985.
Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett (photographed in 1989) were romantically involved for nearly 30 years, and they had a son, Redmond, born in 1985.

In an Instagram post, Patrick O'Neal mused that his father is now "together again" with Fawcett.

"He has bragging rights in Heaven. Especially when it comes to Farrah. Everyone had the poster, he had the real McCoy. And now they meet again. Farrah and Ryan," Patrick O'Neal wrote. "He has missed her terribly. What an embrace that must be. Together again."

In February, O'Neal dedicated a Valentine's Day post to Fawcett and shared a photo of a single rose on her Hollywood Walk of Fame star.

"My forever Valentine… 🌹," he captioned the image.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ryan O'Neal dead: Oscar-nominated actor from 'Love Story' was 82