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Famed Actor Ryan O’Neal Dies At Age 82

Ryan O’Neal, the boyish leading man who kicked off an extraordinary 1970s run in Hollywood with his Oscar-nominated turn as the Harvard preppie Oliver in the legendary romantic tearjerker “Love Story, has died. He was 82. He also starred in such classics as, “What’s Up Doc” and “Paper Moon.”

O’Neal died Friday, his son Patrick O’Neal, a sportscaster with Bally Sports West in Los Angeles, reported on Instagram. He had been diagnosed with chronic leukemia in 2001 and with prostate cancer in 2012.

“As a human being, my father was as generous as they come,” Patrick wrote. “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.”

On the heels of his cinematic duet with Ali MacGraw, O’Neal starred with Barbra Streisand in What’s Up, Doc? (1972) and The Main Event (1979) and partnered with his 9-year-old daughter, Tatum O’Neal, in Peter Bogdanovich’s wonderful Depression-era tale, Paper Moon (1973).

Earlier, the sandy-haired O’Neal made the ladies swoon for five seasons when he starred as Rodney Harrington on more than 500 episodes on the hit Peyton Place, the 1964-69 serialized ABC melodrama spawned by the Lana Turner movie.

O’Neal was married to and divorced from actresses Joanna Moore and Peyton Place co-star Leigh Taylor-Young before beginning an on-and-off 30-year relationship with actress and Charlie’s Angels icon Farrah Fawcett that ended with her death at age 62 on June 25, 2009.

In Arthur Hiller’s Love Story (1970), O’Neal played a college kid from a wealthy family. He sacrifices his riches as he falls for MacGraw’s lovely Jenny, a wisecracking, working-class girl, only to watch her agonizingly succumb to a rare blood disease.

In the ensuing years, watching Love Story “upsets me, actually,” he told Piers Morgan in 2011. “I lost Farrah to cancer, and I just wonder [why] that played out that way for me. One was just a big deal and so successful, and then in real life it was just the opposite, a tragedy.”

O’Neal had Tatum and a son, Griffin, with Moore. Patrick is his son with Taylor-Young. His younger brother, Kevin, a regular on the TV version of No Time for Sergeants in the 1960s, died in January.

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