Ryan O’Neal, ‘Love Story’ and ‘Barry Lyndon’ Star, Dies at 82
One of the 1960s and ’70s biggest stars has died. Ryan O’Neal, best known as the star of the massive ’70s hit Love Story, passed away on Friday. He was 82 years old.
His death was revealed by his son Patrick on his Instagram account.
“This is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to say,” Patrick O’Neal wrote, “My father Ryan O’Neal has always been my hero. I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life.”
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Born Charles Patrick Ryan O’Neal in Los Angeles in 1941, his breakthrough came on television in the mid-1960s, when he was cast as Rodney Harrington on the nighttime soap opera Peyton Place. O’Neal appeared on the show from 1964 through 1969, starring in hundreds of episodes.
After Peyton Place, O’Neal transitioned to movies, and very quickly found major success in 1970’s Love Story, a tragic romance in which he starred opposite Ali MacGraw. The film became the #1 box-office hit of the year, and remains one of the biggest movies of all time when adjusted for inflation. The film’s most famous line — “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” — remains a part of the cultural lexicon to this day. O’Neal was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for the film. (He lost to George C. Scott for Patton.)
A string of hits followed as O’Neal became one of the biggest stars of the “New Hollywood” era. He played a dweeby musicologist opposite Barbra Streisand in Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy What’s Up, Doc?, one of the best rom-coms of any era. Then he reteamed with Bogdanovich, and his real-life daughter Tatum O’Neal in for the black-and-white dramedy Paper Moon. (The younger O’Neal wound up winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her work in the film.) In 1975, he played the title role in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Although not a smash in its day, the movie has come to be considered one of Kubrick’s greatest works.
O’Neal’s most underrated movie might be The Driver, Walter Hill’s terse crime flick about a getaway driver who gets in over his head. Although it flopped in theaters and remains fairly obscure today, the movie remains a cult favorite, and is very popular among modern directors. It heavily influenced Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive starring Ryan Gosling and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver.
The late ’70s and into the early ’80s were certainly the peak for O’Neal but he worked in film and television for many years. And his best performances came in sone of the biggest hits of his era, ensuring he will be remembered for many years to come.
“He is a Hollywood legend. Full stop,” Patrick O’Neal wrote of his father.
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