You can’t star in a film called “Love Story” and not know a thing or two about love.
Oscar-nominated actor Ryan O’Neal became a household name when he starred in the iconic 1970 film opposite Ali MacGraw.
He earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role playing Oliver, a character who made us believe that “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
O’Neal passed away on December 8 at the age of 82.
His son, 56-year-old actor Patrick O’Neal, confirmed the news on his Instagram account Friday.
“My dad passed away peacefully today,” he wrote. “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.”
That lethal combo of charm and humor allowed the beloved actor to leave behind a rich legacy punctuated by the leading ladies he shared his world with on and off the screen.
Here’s a look at the notorious lothario’s most famous romances, including two marriages and a real life love story with Farrah Fawcett.
O’Neal married his first wife, actress Joanna Moore, in 1963. She was known in Hollywood for her roles in “Monster on the Campus” and “Walk on the Wild Side.” Together they had two children, daughter Tatum and son Griffin.
When she was 10, Tatum became the youngest person ever to win an Oscar, for her performance as Addie Loggins in “Paper Moon” co-starring her father.
The couple split in 1966 and O’Neal gained custody of the couple’s two children due to her battle with addiction.
Moore was arrested five times for DUI during the 1980s and the avid smoker died of lung cancer in 1997.
O’Neal finalized his divorce with Moore in 1967 and married his second wife, Leigh Taylor-Young, the same year.
The couple welcomed their son Patrick in 1967, who would go on to become a sportscaster for Fox.
The marriage lasted four years but they divorced in 1974. It was O’Neal’s longest and final divorce.
Farrah Fawcett famously fell in love with O’Neal while she was still married to “The Six Million Dollar Man” actor Lee Majors. In 1979, Majors asked his pal O’Neal to check on Fawcett while he was out of town filming and unfortunately for him, his wife and buddy formed an instant love connection.
Thus began a tumultuous love affair and the couple were on-and-off for three decades although they never married.
They welcomed their son Redmond O’Neal in 1985 and later split in 1997. Four years later, they reunited in 2001 when O’Neal was diagnosed with leukemia and Fawcett helped nurse him back to health.
O’Neil was by her side from then on until Fawcett’s passing on June 25, 2009 from anal cancer.
“There was never a day I didn’t love her,” O’Neil told People in 2019.
Fawcett’s close friend Sylvia Dorsey believed the two were soulmates: “Ryan was the love of her life,” she said. “I don’t think she was happy without him. They fought and loved with passion. It was never boring. They were electric together.”
“He never left her side, especially those last few months,” added Fawcett’s close friend Alana Stewart. “I think they would’ve married if she had made it because he asked her to marry him in the hospital and she said yes. But she took a turn for the worse. This was just a few weeks before the end, so perhaps it wasn’t realistic. The two of them had a deep bond and deep love. No matter what they went through, the ups and downs, he was the one she wanted by her side.”
Barbra Streisand revealed in her memoir “My Name Is Barbra” that she O’Neil briefly dated in 1970 after meeting at a dinner party, where he “fancied” the young starlet and asked for her number.
“We started seeing each other, and it was kind of a new dynamic for me . . . easy and casual,” she wrote in her book. “I remember a moment early on when he told me, ‘I love you,’ and I said, ‘What do you mean? You don’t know me.’ Trust me to be so literal.”
Unfortunately the romance soon “fizzled” out because Streisand recalled that she was “too serious” for him. Still, they “remained on good terms.”
Despite the split, O’Neil says he cherished his time with working Streisand on the 1972 wacky comedy “What’s Up Doc?”
“I learned more about comedy from Barbara than anyone,” he told The Hollywood Reporter, 50 years after the film debuted.
On the day of his passing, Streisand took to Instagram to pay tribute to her two-time costar.
“So sad to hear the news of Ryan O’Neal’s passing,” Streisand wrote alongside a black-and-white picture from the “What’s Up, Doc?” “We made two films together, ‘What’s Up, Doc?’ and ‘The Main Event.’ He was funny and charming, and he will be remembered.”
Not much is known about the alleged romance between famed singer Diana Ross and O’Neil according to Vanity Fair but according to the 1988 book “Call Her Miss Ross” by J. Randy Taraborrelli, she was interested in working with O’Neil because of “his association with Barbra Streisand.”
In 1979, O’Neil called the singer in hopes for recruiting her for “The Bodyguard” (the film would eventually go on to star Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner).
While courting her for the film, the two began dating. According to the book obtained by CheatSheet, “he showed out at her birthday party in March of that year, dancing, socializing, and gifting her with a posh amethyst ring.”
In April of 1979 O’Neal joined Ross on a few locations while she was on tour and the two were spotted in public kissing but he later dumped her because of her diva like behavior.
“All of a sudden she didn’t want to play a woman guarded by a white bodyguard because Diana Ross doesn’t want to show her body, doesn’t want to do sex scenes on the screen, doesn’t want to sing, and doesn’t want to be black,” O’Neil concluded according to Taraborrelli. “As you can see, we are obviously no longer an item.”
Taraborrelli also revealed in his book that O’Neil ghosted the “I’m Coming Out” singer. “Apparently, he would instruct his secretary to tell her that he wasn’t home,” wrote the biographer. “One day she went to the beach house in Malibu, barged in and started screaming at him. ‘I’m calling you and you’re ignoring me? How dare you?’ Her feelings were hurt.”
Anjelica Huston dated Ryan O’Neil in the ’70s but she broke up with him after she claims he got violent and physically assaulted her at a party in Beverly Hills.
“He turned on me, grabbed me by the hair and hit me in the forehead with the top of his skull,” Huston wrote in her tell-all “Watch Me: A Memoir” a copy of which was obtained by The National Enquirer. “I saw stars and reeled back. Half blind, I ran away from him.”
Huston escaped to the bathroom but later met her boyfriend in the bathroom to speak alone.
“No sooner had I complied then Ryan was in the bathroom, batting me about the head with open hands. Then, abruptly, he left,” she writes.
The Oscar winner says she broke up with O’Neal that night and got back with her ex Jack Nicholson.
Ursula Andress and Ryan O’Neal were romantically linked from 1977 to 1978.
According to the Daily Mail, after O’Neil’s daughter Tatum became the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award, he “turned her into his companion, inviting her to share a bed with him.”
Although the act of sleeping together wasn’t sexual, “it horrified Ryan’s lovers, like ‘James Bond’ movie star Ursula Andress, who was reportedly shocked at having to spend the night in the same bed as Ryan and his little daughter.”
Nicaraguan-born actress Bianca Jagger admitted to having an “off and on” two-year fling with actor Ryan O’Neal in the ’70s while she was married to Rolling Stones rocker Mick Jagger from 1971 to 1979.
According to a letter written by “Dr. Strangelove” screenwriter Terry Southern to Stanley Kubrick in 1973, the lovers were caught in the act at Mick’s London home.
“My dear Stan, I had the pleasure of meeting R. O’Neal while we were both guests in the home of rock-star Mick Jagger…and his charming wife, Bianca — to whom, unless I am very much mistaken, young O’Neal was putting his stout wood in a most forceful manner,” he wrote.
Southern added: “In fact, Stan, I would be less than candid if I failed to mention how I walked into the room one afternoon to find them going at it like a pair of maddened wart-hogs.”
Satirist Southern also recalled “O’Neal’s coarse animal member [working] with such tumultuous abandon as to literally smash the darling girl against the sideboard at the very mo[ment] when yrs tly was pouring himself a short one!”
Melanie Griffith briefly dated Ryan O’Neal in 1975.
According to the Data Lounge, Griffith admitted to having flings at the time with some of Hollywood’s hottest bachelors including O’Neal, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson.
“I did have a little thing with those three back in the day,” she said. “Yeah, they were awesome! All of them. They were all men I have had. I’m friends with all of them, pretty much. I’m pretty sure there’s a couple I’ve forgotten about…”