Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Ryan O'Neal (Dona)


December 8th, Ryan O'Neal passed away at the age of 82.  


The last time I saw him playing a character was on BONES where he played Emily Deschanel's father Max for 24 episodes.  He got famous on TV, in the sixties, before I was born.  The boxer turned actor started working professionally in 1960 and then, in 1964, was cast as Rodney on the night time soap opera PEYTON PLACE where he and Barbara Parkins had real chemistry which led Rodney and Betty to come back together over and over regardless of any other characters or any events.  

In 1969, he made his first feature film, THE BIG BOUNCE, which featured his PEYTON PLACE co-stars Lee Grant and Leigh Taylor-Young.  He would marry Leigh Taylor-Young -- his second wife.  He would be involved with many other women over the years including Diana Ross and Joan Collins.  His most well known relationship was with actress Farrah Fawcett with whom he had a son.  They were together from the end of the seventies to the end of the nineties before getting back together in 2001 and staying together until her 2009 death.  

His third film was LOVE STORY (1970) and it was a huge hit.  He was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe.  I saw the film in fourth grade.  It was the first time I remember seeing a man's butt -- naked butt.  And I had a huge crush on Ryan.  I couldn't believe that our teacher had shown the movie.  It's a tear jerker and it's a good movie but I think she was of the opinion that since it was an old film it was a safe one to show.

Ryan's a "preppie" -- as Ali MacGraw dubs him.  She's working on campus to pay her way through college and Ryan's rich kid.  They fall in love.  They marry and try to make a life together but she has a disease -- one of those movie diseases that has no name and whose chief symptom is that your mark up gets thicker and better as do your hair styles.  "Love means never having to say you're sorry," she tells him.  

Eric Andersson and Liz  McNeil (PEOPLE) report:


"Working with Ryan, all those years ago, was one of the great experiences of my film career, and we remained friends ever after. He was a skilled actor, charming and funny too," said MacGraw, 84 — who played O’Neal’s girlfriend and wife in the 1970 classic romantic film written by Erich Segal —  in a statement shared with PEOPLE this weekend.

She continued, "I know that a huge part of my success was due to his generosity as my co-star. It has been devastating to know just how ill Ryan has been for many years now, and I was not surprised to learn that he had passed away yesterday morning."

MacGraw added that her "heart" went out O'Neal's children and loved ones, before she reflected on her more recent experiences with the late actor.

LOVE STORY was a huge hit film spending 15 weeks at number one at the box office in North America.  It made Ryan a star (GOODBYE COLUMBUS had already made Ali a star the year before. 

As a star, Ryan would go on to make many films.  He'd star in Stanley Kubrick's BARRY LYNDON, Richard Attenborough's A BRIDGE TOO FAR and Walter Hill's THE DRIVER.  But it was in comedy that he'd really make his mark.  Peter Bogdanovich directed him in the hits WHAT'S UP DOC? (with Barbra Streisand) and PAPER MOON (with his daughter Tatum O'Neal) and in NICKELODEON; he'd reteam with Barbra Streisand for THE MAIN EVENT; he and Jack Warden provided laughs in SO FINE, Jim Burrows' PARTNERS (due for a reassessment); Nancy Meyers and Charles Shyer's IRRECONCILABLE DIFFERENCES; he teamed with Cybill Shepherd and Robert Downing Jr. for CHANCES ARE; and Paul Mazursky's FAITHFUL playing Cher's husband.  Those are the roles that he sparkled in. 

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