Everything We Know About Farrah Fawcett And Ryan O'Neal's Relationship

Farrah Fawcett, the '70s icon with blond feathered hair and a winning smile, lay slowly dying. Her on-again, off-again love Ryan O'Neal was by her side. It was April 13, 2009. "Am I going to make it?" she asked him (via "Both of Us: My Life with Farrah"). "Of course you're going to make it, and if not, I'm going with you," he responded. The couple had had a rollercoaster relationship that stretched across three decades. When they met in 1979, she was married to actor Lee Majors, and O'Neal was twice divorced with three children.

From the start, O'Neal and Fawcett's relationship was tabloid fodder. O'Neal had been friends with Majors, to whom Fawcett was still married when she and O'Neal began seeing each other. They stayed together for 17 years and had a child, Redmond, in 1985 before breaking up in 1997. But after doctors diagnosed O'Neal with leukemia in 2001, they again began dating. And in the end, when Fawcett died on the morning of June 25, 2009, from anal cancer, O'Neal was with her at St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

Never married, but not for lack of trying on O'Neal's part

In 1979, Farrah Fawcett left Lee Majors for Ryan O'Neal. She told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in a 1989 interview that Majors hadn't been supportive of her and that O'Neal "has always liked me independent." O'Neal was madly in love. "For the first time in my life, something took precedence over myself," he told the Daily News.

While their romance blossomed, Fawcett had soured on the idea of marriage, calling it a "business contract," per the South Florida Sun Sentinel. That didn't stop O'Neal from continually asking her to marry him — beginning with the first time they slept together. The closest they came was in 1980. They announced to reporters in Venice that September that they planned to wed, but nothing came of it. "I used to ask her to marry me all the time," O'Neal told "20/20" in 2009. "But ... it just got to be a joke, you know. We just joked about it." Just days before Fawcett died, he again announced that they planned to wed, but it never came to be.

Breakup and reunion

By 1989, Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal had been together for a decade, and she seemed happy with the relationship. "Lots of couples are married but unfaithful," she told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "We are not married and we are totally faithful." But by the end of the 1990s that had changed. They broke up in 1997 after Fawcett caught O'Neal in bed with another woman in their home, per the Philadelphia Daily News. Besides O'Neal's infidelity, he and Fawcett often fought violently, per People.

Cancer brought Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett back together again. In 2001, doctors diagnosed O'Neal with chronic myelogenous leukemia, and he moved back in with Fawcett as he dealt with the disease, according to People. "You can't die," she told him in a phone conversation after learning of his cancer (via "Both of Us"). "We'll fight this together, we'll beat this." And they did. Just five years later, Fawcett received her own cancer diagnosis. In the hours before her death at age 62, O'Neal sat with her, telling her how much he loved her. O'Neal died on December 8, 2023, per The New York Times. He was 82, and to the end he remained deeply devoted to Fawcett, calling her "My forever valentine" in an Instagram post featuring a picture of her Hollywood Walk of Fame star with a red rose.