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Ryan Oneal
Ryan Oneal
Ryan Oneal

RIP

Ryan O’Neal, Father and Co-Star of Tatum O’Neal in ‘Paper Moon,’ Dies at 82

NOTE: This article is 8 months old and may not include the most recent information.

Actor Ryan O’Neal, known for hit films like Love Story and What’s Up, Doc?, passed away on December 8th at the age of 82. But one of his most notable roles was co-starring with his own daughter, Tatum O’Neal, in the 1973 film Paper Moon.

In Paper Moon, set in Depression-era Midwest America, O’Neal played a con artist who takes a young girl claiming to be his daughter (played by 9-year-old Tatum) under his wing. Their characters go from town to town, scamming people to get by. The film, directed by Peter Bogdanovich, became a critical and commercial hit. And Tatum O’Neal made history as the youngest competitive winner of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance.

Behind the scenes, Ryan and Tatum had a very troubled real-life relationship. Tatum struggled with drug and alcohol addiction for decades, leading to estrangement from her father. In her 2004 autobiography, Tatum alleged Ryan had been verbally and physically abusive during her childhood.

They attempted to reconcile for an 8-episode reality show called Ryan & Tatum: The O’Neals in 2011, but old wounds still plagued their father-daughter bond. Though they made attempts to mend fences, Tatum later said she struggled to move past the pain of the past.

So while their on-screen chemistry charmed audiences in Paper Moon, off-screen the two shared a painful history from Tatum’s childhood into adulthood that they were never fully able to overcome. Still, Ryan spoke fondly later in life of working with Tatum on the iconic 1973 film.

While Ryan O’Neal was a Hollywood staple for decades, his performance in Paper Moon alongside daughter Tatum is an essential part of his acting legacy. Ryan’s passing marks the end of a tumultuous but memorable real-life and on-screen father-daughter dynamic.

Trevor Decker
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