How Did Ryan O'Neal Die? 'Love Story' Actor Who Was in Longtime Relationship with Farrah Fawcett Dies Aged 82

Born on April 20, 1941, in Los Angeles as Charles Patrick Ryan O'Neal, he was the son of actress Patricia Ruth Olga and novelist/screenwriter Charles O'Neal.

Ryan O'Neal, the iconic actor known for his Oscar-nominated role in "Love Story" (1970) and two-time Golden Globe nominations, has died at the age of 82. The news of O'Neal's death was confirmed by his 56-year-old son, actor Patrick O'Neal, on Friday via an Instagram post. Tributes have since been pouring in from all corners.

A blazing star of Hollywood's golden era, O'Neal not only captivated audiences with his charismatic roles in timeless films like "What's Up, Doc?," "Paper Moon," and "Barry Lyndon" but also reigned as a quintessential heartthrob. His stunning performance in "Love Story" earned him an Oscar nomination in 1970, cementing his position as a cinematic icon.

An Icon Is Dead

Ryan O'Neal
Ryan O'Neal X

Confirming O'Neal's death, his son wrote on Instagram, "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."

"My father Ryan O'Neal has always been my hero. I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life," he continued.

Ryan O'Neal
Ryan O'Neal with Ali MacGraw in Love Story X

"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. 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."

"As my father, he was second to none. The best and most loving and supportive dad, and I am just so lucky to have had him," he continued. "We loved playing/watching sports together. Some great frisbee throws on the beach that would last all weekend long. For years. That was our bond."

O'Neal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, and in 2012, with prostate cancer. Initially indicating Stage 4 cancer, he later clarified it as Stage 2.

In 2017, he underwent back surgery. Throughout the years, O'Neal struggled with well-documented issues of alcoholism and drug abuse. The exact cause of his death remains unknown.

A Life Worth Remembering

Born on April 20, 1941, in Los Angeles as Charles Patrick Ryan O'Neal, he was the son of actress Patricia Ruth Olga and novelist/screenwriter Charles O'Neal.

Ryan O'Neal
Ryan O'Neal with Farah Fawcett in Small Sacrifices X

Before getting into acting, O'Neal underwent training as a professional boxer, participating in two Golden Gloves championships in Los Angeles during the 1950s. His amateur fighting record boasted 18 wins, four losses, and 13 knockouts.

O'Neal's family relocated to Germany due to his father's job during his high school years. He faced challenges adjusting to his new Munich school. To navigate this, he became an extra and stuntman on a local show, igniting his passion for acting.

Upon returning to the United States, O'Neal pursued a career in performance and secured various roles on TV shows, including "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," "The Untouchables," "Leave It To Beaver," and "The Virginian." He was a regular presence on NBC's Western series "Empire" from 1962 to 1963.

His breakthrough came in 1964 when he portrayed Rodney Harrington in the TV drama "Peyton Place," leading to numerous film credits, including his first leading role in the 1969 film "The Big Bounce."

O'Neal achieved widespread recognition after starring opposite Ali MacGraw in the 1970 film "Love Story." His portrayal of Oliver earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and the film's memorable line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry," became iconic.

"We didn't have to build chemistry," O'Neal told the Hollywood Reporter in 2000 in celebration of the film's 50th anniversary. "It was there, built in."

"Love Story" went on to become a blockbuster success, earning $136.4 million globally, which, adjusted for inflation, is equivalent to $915.7 million today. The film's widespread acclaim translated into seven Oscar nominations in total.

Ryan O'Neal
Ryan O'Neal X

"Knowing very well the events that were going on in the world — anti-Vietnam and worrying about all kinds of stuff — I think people may have been ready for something sentimental," added MacGraw.

In 1972, O'Neal took on a starring role in "What's Up, Doc?," alongside Barbra Streisand. The film went on to become the third highest-grossing film of that year.

O'Neal left a lasting impact with notable works such as "Paper Moon," "Barry Lyndon," "A Bridge Too Far," and "The Main Event." His presence extended to television, with a final appearance in 24 episodes of "Bones," ending in 2017.

O'Neal and his daughter, Tatum O'Neal, also allowed cameras into their lives in an attempt to mend their father-daughter relationship on the reality show "Ryan and Tatum: The O'Neals" in 2011.

His last film, a horror movie titled "The Waste Lands," is reportedly in development according to IMDb.

O'Neal was well-known not just for his acting career but also for his high-profile romances.

He was married to Joanna Moore from 1963 to 1967, and they had two children, Tatum and Griffin.

He married Leigh-Taylor Young in 1967, and they had a son named Patrick before divorcing in 1971.

Ryan O'Neal had a well-documented, tumultuous on-and-off relationship with Farrah Fawcett. They were together from 1979 to 1997 and then rekindled their relationship in 2001, which continued until Fawcett died in 2009. However, they never officially married. The couple had one son, Redmond, born in 1985.

Their relationship faced challenges due to O'Neal's reported infidelity and volatile temper. The couple initially separated when Fawcett found O'Neal in bed with actress Leslie Stefanson.

Ryan O'Neal
Ryan O'Neal X

O'Neal's struggles with drug abuse created significant strains in his relationships, particularly with his three oldest children. Tatum and Griffin O'Neal have been vocal about the impact of their father's substance abuse on the family dynamics. Griffin even made statements alleging that his father provided him with cocaine when he was just 11 years old and "insisted" that he take it.

"He was a very abusive, narcissistic psychopath. He gets so mad he can't control anything he's doing," Griffin added in Vanity Fair.

"I'm a hopeless father. I don't know why," O'Neal admitted to the mag in 2009. "I don't think I was supposed to be a father. Just look around at my work — they're either in jail or they should be."

In 2007, O'Neal was arrested for allegedly firing a gun at his son, Griffin. O'Neal claimed that he acted in self-defense.

Fawcett died on June 25, 2009, at the age of 62 due to anal cancer. Despite the family's history of conflicts, O'Neal reportedly refused to allow Griffin to attend Fawcett's funeral.

Ten years after the death of Fawcett, O'Neal reflected on his longtime love to People. "There was never a day I didn't love her," he said.

A few weeks before she died, O'Neal proposed to her.