Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
Love Story is credited for creating the chick flick film genre and is still thought of as one of the most romantic movies in history. But, without Ali's persistence, this story might not have been told. In the late '60s, no major Hollywood studio would even consider the screenplay written by Erich Segal, a 33-year-old Yale professor at the time.
Ali was so enamored with the script, she says she asked for a meeting with the head of Paramount Pictures, Robert Evans. Ali charmed him into greenlighting the project, and she was cast as the sharp-tongued Jenny. The role of Oliver, the Harvard prep, was turned down by well-known actors like Jon Voight, Michael Douglas and Peter Fonda before Ryan O'Neal, a rising star, nabbed the part. "He was it," Ali says. "He walked in, and that was the end of that."
For the first time in almost a decade, Ali and Ryan reunite on the Oprah Show stage. Ali says she still remembers Ryan's audition and their instant chemistry. "First of all, he's a great kisser," she says. "It's a combination of somebody who's incredibley sexy but funny. That's just electrifying."