Ryan O'Neal, star of "Love Story" and "Paper Moon," is dead at 82

Ryan O’Neal, the Oscar-nominated star of films including “Love Story” and “Paper Moon,” has died. He was 82.

O’Neal’s son Patrick confirmed his death Friday with a post on Instagram.  “This is just so hard for us. Ryan made such an impact and this will be difficult without him. This is and will be a huge void in our lives,” Patrick O’Neal wrote.

Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw in a promotional still for the movie
Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw in a promotional still for the movie “Love Story” in 1970.

/ Getty Images


O’Neal was one the biggest actors of the late ’60s and early ’70s, on par with Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen and Robert Redford. 

Patrick Ryan O’Neal was born on April 20, 1941, in Los Angeles, according to his website. He trained as a professional boxer before landing his first job in television as a stuntman. Later, in the 1960s, he got his first major role on the prime-time soap opera “Peyton Place.” 

But O’Neal’s breakout role came with the film adaptation of the best-selling novel “Love Story,” in which he starred opposite Ali MacGraw. The film was a major hit at the box office and O’Neal’s performance garnered him an Academy Award nomination.

“Love Story” was a reboot of “Romeo & Juliet” written by Erich Segal. In the film, directed by Arthur Hiller,  O’Neal played a rich Harvard legacy student, Oliver Barrett IV, and McGraw played a working-class girl, Jenny. 

“There was a strange love affair that was going on on the set with everyone,” O’Neal told CBS Sunday Morning in 2021. “And we just were part of that, Ali and I.”

After “Love Story,” O’Neal starred opposite Barbara Streisand in the comedy “What’s Up Doc.” In the 1973 film “Paper Moon,” O’Neal played a drifter working con games with his daughter (played by his real daughter Tatum). He was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance and Tatum O’Neal, at 10, became the youngest person to win an Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actress category for her role.

“Ryan was a very generous man who has always been there to help his loved ones for decade upon decade,” Patrick O’Neal wrote on Instagram. “I hope the first thing he brags about in Heaven is how he sparred 2 rounds with Joe Frazier in 1966, on national TV, with Muhammad Ali doing the commentary, and went toe to toe with Smokin’ Joe.”

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