Charles Patrick Ryan O'Neal, more popularly known as Ryan O'Neal is a well-known American actor. He was an amateur boxer before he shot to limelight with his acting ventures. O’Neal’s early foray into acting was as Rodney Harrington on ‘Peyton Place’, a soap opera aired on ABC. Soon he started acting in films. He was lauded for his portrayal of Oliver in the adaptation of Erich Segal’s bestselling book ‘Love Story’. His filmography boasts of other successful films like ‘What’s Up, Doc?’, ‘Paper Moon’, ‘Barry Lyndon’, ‘The Main Event’ etc. The talented actor faced disappointments in his career when he was selected and later, rejected for roles in ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Rocky’. His personal life too remained peppered with sensational events like his extra-marital affair with actress Farah Fawcett. He supported Fawcett through her treatment of cancer and this was included in the documentary ‘Farah’s Story’, a two-hour footage of the actress’ struggle with the fatal disease. Ryan O’Neal is currently starring as Max, the father of the protagonist Dr. “Bones” in the TV series ‘Bones’.
Childhood & Early Life
Patrick Ryan O’Neal was born on April 20, 1941 in Los Angeles, California in a show business family. His father, Charles “Blackie” O’Neal was a novelist and screenwriter while his mother, Patricia O'Callaghan was an actress.
While attending University High School, O’Neal trained to become a Golden Gloves boxer.
During 1956-1957, he competed in two Golden Gloves championships in Los Angeles and created a notable amateur fighting record—18 wins to 4 losses, with 13 knockouts.
In 1950s, his family moved to Munich for his father’s job in Radio Free Europe. O’Neal enrolled at the Munich American High School from where he graduated in 1959.
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Ryan O’Neal started his career as a stuntman on the German television series ‘Tales of the Vikings’.
In 1962, he appeared in a supporting role in the television show Empire. The show did not run long but he got noticed by casting directors.
O'Neal did cameo roles in shows like ‘The Virginian’, ‘Perry Mason’, and ‘Wagon Train’.
In 1964, he landed his first breakthrough role in the prime-time soap opera ‘Peyton Place’, based on the best-selling novel by Grace Metaliou.
He moved on to doing feature films and in 1969 starred as the protagonist in ‘The Big Bounce’, a screen adaptation of the novel by Elmore Leonard. The movie was a box office dud.
In 1970, Ryan O’Neal appeared in ‘Love Story’, the most successful film of his career. He beat 300 people in the auditions to bag the role of Oliver Barrett IV.
He turned to comedy next and in 1971 appeared opposite Barbara Streisand in the blockbuster hit ‘What’s Up Doc’.
Other comedy movies followed like ‘The Thief Who Came To Dinner’ with Warren Oates and Jacqueline Bisset in 1973.
His first critically acclaimed movie was ‘Paper Moon’ that came out in 1973. He played a drifter cum con artist. The movie also starred his real life daughter Tatum.
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In 1975, he worked with Stanley Kubrick on a historical drama ‘Barry Lyndon’.
In 1978, ‘Oliver Story’, a sequel to ‘Love Story’ came out. However, unlike the massively popular prequel, this movie fell flat at the box office.
In 1979, O'Neal had his long-due commercial success with a boxing comedy, ‘The Main Event’, opposite Barbra Streisand.
From the 1980s, his acting career started dwindling. He had a modest hit in 1984 with ‘Irreconcilable Differences’, co-starring Drew Barrymore and Shelley Long.
In 1991, he returned to television with the sitcom ‘Good Sports’ where he played a sportscaster opposite Farrah Fawcett. The show went on for only seven months.
In 2003, he tried his luck on TV again with the romantic comedy ‘Miss Match’ but the show was a disaster, and did not run even for a whole season.
Since 2007, Ryan O’Neal is playing the part of Max Brennan, is the father of Russ and Temperance Brennan in the American crime procedural drama, ‘Bones’.
Ryan O’Neal’s most successful venture was ‘Love Story’ (1970), the American romantic drama film. O'Neal starred opposite Ali McGraw in this film about a young man who marries the love of his life but loses her to a terminal illness. The film fetched a profit of $106,397,186 and became the highest grossing film of 1970 in the U.S and Canada. It also grossed a surplus $30 million internationally.
Awards & Achievements
In 1970, Ryan O’Neal won the David di Donatello Award in the Best Foreign Actor category for ‘Love Story’.
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He was also nominated for the 1970 Academy Award for Best Actor and the 1971 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Drama Film for ‘Love Story’.
He was nominated for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Film (1974) for ‘Paper Moon’.
Personal Life & Legacy
In the early 1960s, O'Neal married actress Joanna Moore with whom he had two children—a daughter, Tatum in 1963 and a son, Griffin in 1964. The couple got divorced in 1967.
After their divorce in 1967, O'Neal married actress Lee Taylor-Young with whom he had a son, Patrick. The couple divorced soon after.
He had been in an on and off relationship with actress Farah Fawcett since the 1980s. He had a son, Redmond, with her in 1985.
In 2005, his daughter Tatum revealed that he was an abusive and drug-addict father in her autobiography ‘A Paper Life’.
In 2007, O'Neal was arrested on assault charges after he had a physical altercation with his son, Griffin during which the latter’s pregnant girlfriend was physically hurt.
In April 2012, O'Neal was diagnosed with stage IV prostate cancer.
In 2011, Ryan and Tatum tried to repair their broken relationship and the resolution was captured in the Oprah Winfrey Network series, ‘Ryan and Tatum: The O'Neals’.