Ryan O'Neal's Rocky Relationship With His Children Explained

"Love Story" actor Ryan O'Neal started as an amateur boxer, and his personal life was full of ups and downs. Though his connections with women got their fair share of the spotlight from tabloids and news outlets, so too did his rocky relationship with his children. He had four kids with three actresses: Tatum O'Neal and Griffin O'Neal (with Joanna Moore), Patrick O'Neal (with Leigh Taylor-Young), and Redmond James Fawcett O'Neal (with Farrah Fawcett). 

The story of his relationship with them is a complicated one involving addiction, abuse, and death, and the troubled actor even once shot Griffin. "I'm a hopeless father," he told Vanity Fair for a 2009 profile. "I don't know why. I don't think I was supposed to be a father." Regardless, at the time of his death in December 2023, he appeared to remain estranged from just one child — Redmond. It seems that by the end of his life, the actor was eager to make amends.

Tatum O'Neal

Ryan O'Neal memorably starred alongside his daughter, Tatum, in 1973's "Paper Moon." Tatum's performance was so captivating that she won an Academy Award for best supporting actress — the youngest person to do so as of 2023 — but he allegedly resented her for it. "He loved me, but then hated me, because I won the Academy Award," she told The Hollywood Reporter in 2023.

The pair were estranged on and off throughout the years. "Weird s*** happened," she told the outlet of the time after her win. "It kind of went in the wrong direction to happiness." In her 2004 autobiography "A Paper Life," Tatum revealed that Ryan's drug dealer sexually assaulted her at 12, and she experienced addiction throughout her life — a pattern that would follow her siblings. "I've got a battle with drugs, but I'm a strong, independent person, and I fight for myself, and my father and I butt heads," she told Vanity Fair for the 2009 profile. "When I was 16 years old, he and Farrah [Fawcett] moved in together. And after that, I saw my dad periodically. And that took a long time for me to get over."

She attempted to reconcile with her father in 2011 for the documentary series "Ryan and Tatum: The O'Neals," but the Independent said in July 2023 that it remained "tumultuous." After Ryan's death months later, Tatum said that they had reconciled. "I'll miss him forever and I feel very lucky that we ended on such good terms," she told People. She also told People that Farrah Fawcett's passing in 2009 played a "very big role" in their decision to rekindle the relationship.

Griffin O'Neal

Like his father and sister before him, Griffin O'Neal was an actor, first appearing in "Nickelodeon" at the age of 12 (his last credited role was in 1992). And like them, he also experienced addiction. In fact, Griffin said he began doing drugs at 9 years old and would often roll joints for the family. "My life has been a reign of drug and alcohol degradation," he told People in 2015. "I had to self medicate my entire life because there was pain everywhere. There were drugs everywhere in my family all day, every day. It was the '60s and '70s and Tatum and I had a tough time." 

As of 2015, Griffin said he had stopped talking to his father, who he said once punched his teeth out and even shot at him. "My whole family has been absolutely destroyed to smithereens from drug addiction and alcoholism," Griffin told People. Ryan appeared to remain estranged from Griffin at the time of his death — and appeared to be on the outs with Redmond as well.

Redmond James Fawcett O'Neal

Redmond James Fawcett O'Neal experienced addiction throughout his life. As reported by Reuters, he was arrested in 2007 after being caught with heroin and methamphetamine while driving under the influence. He was ultimately sentenced to three years probation. In 2008, he and his father were arrested and charged with methamphetamine possession, the Los Angeles Times reported. In the 2009 Vanity Fair profile, Ryan O'Neal blamed his son. "It wasn't mine—I had taken it away from him the night before," he said. "But when the cops came at 4:30 in the morning, with Farrah [Fawcett] there, I wasn't going to say, 'It's his!'"

In May 2018, Redmond was arrested and charged in relation to the robbery of a 7-Eleven in Venice Beach. One month later, he was charged with attempted murder for a stabbing spree that allegedly also took place in May, People reported. He was eventually transferred to the Patton State Psychiatric Hospital in San Bernardino, per the Daily Mail. Tabloids suggested that Ryan wanted to see Redmond before he died, though such claims are unconfirmed.

Patrick O'Neal

Sportscaster Patrick O'Neal remained close to his father throughout his life, and People noted that they bonded over their love of sports. Patrick was even the one to share the news of Ryan's death on Instagram. "My father Ryan O'Neal has always been my hero," he wrote. "I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life."

In 2019, Patrick helped Ryan purchase a gym the elder O'Neal opened in 1988. Ryan ultimately gave up his share of the business to his partner, and it closed in 2018. Patrick also remained close to his father during his health issues. "He was so wonderful; he was right there for me," Ryan told the Los Angeles Times in 2019. "I said, 'Take the gym!' "I'm so proud of him."

In April 2023, Patrick and Tatum visited their father for his final birthday. Patrick posted an Instagram photo of him and his father from the meeting with a caption saying, "Honor and a privilege to share time with my dad on his 82nd birthday. 4/20 whoop whoop!!"

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).