11 July 2024

Los Angeles, United States –  Actor and heartthrob Ryan O’Neal, the Oscar-nominated star of “Love Story” who also appeared in “Paper Moon” and “Barry Lyndon,” has died, his son said Friday. He was 82.

“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 on Instagram.

O’Neal, whose smoldering looks and perfect jawline made him the ideal leading man, was also known for his tumultuous decades-long relationship with actress Farrah Fawcett.

After years of television roles in the 1960s, O’Neal’s big break came in 1970’s “Love Story,” a box office phenomenon that earned him an Oscar nomination — one of a grab-bag of nods for a film now credited with becoming a template for the “chick flick” genre.

Two years later he was paired with Barbra Streisand for the screwball comedy “What’s Up, Doc?,” another hit with US audiences that further increased his profile.

Over the following years, O’Neal played a jewel thief in “The Thief Who Came To Dinner” and starred opposite his daughter Tatum O’Neal in Peter Bogdanovich’s 1973 hit “Paper Moon” — bagging a Golden Globe nomination in the process.

In 1975 he appeared in Stanley Kubrick’s “Barry Lyndon,” a picaresque historical drama that is better thought-of now than it was five decades ago.

“As a human being, my father was as generous as they come,” Patrick O’Neal wrote.

“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.”

O’Neal was married and divorced twice before he began a stormy, but enduring, relationship with “Charlie’s Angels” star Fawcett.

File photo : This photograph taken on July 22, 1982 shows US actor Ryan O’Neal (L) smiling as his wife US actress Farrah Fawcett touches his face during a night out at “Manoa” in Monaco.//AFP

The couple were together for almost 20 years from the late 1970s, but split in 1997 reportedly after she caught him in flagrante with another actress. They reunited in 2001 until her death at the age of 62 in 2009.

O’Neal told British journalist Piers Morgan that watching “Love Story” — in which a rich kid falls in love with a working class girl who later dies — was upsetting. “I lost Farrah to cancer, and I just wonder (why) that played out that way for me,” he said.

“One was just a big deal and so successful, and then in real life it was just the opposite, a tragedy.”

Agence France-Presse