Since costarring in 1973's Paper Moon, Ryan and Tatum O'Neal have each had their share of romantic upheavals, drug problems, and legal scrapes—but until the death of Ryan's longtime love, Farrah Fawcett, in 2009, they hadn't spoken in 25 years. Now father and daughter will attempt to reconnect on the docu-series The O'Neals. We got a taste of what divides—and unites—them.
The real reasons they've been apart:
I loved Farrah, and Tatum didn't want me to be with her. Her grudge is that I left her for another woman. She wrote a book [A Paper Life, Tatum's autobiography], in which she's hard on me—so they say; I never read it. And she abandoned me. Year after year, no pictures of her children, no phone calls. She ran away from the people who loved her to be with people who didn't.
The problem is his temper, and the effect it has on everyone, not just me. If you're at odds with four of your children, as he is, the common denominator is you—so maybe you have to look at your part of things. At my age, I'm just not going to be treated unkindly. I want respect. That's not a lot to ask.
Why now is the right time to reconcile:
I've been writing a book about Farrah and me, and I'm reading my journals—and there's Tatum, or rather, there's not Tatum. I'm hoping this show will help us, because on our own we've gotten nowhere.
When Farrah died, I decided to reach out to my dad. It had been a long time not to speak to my only living parent. I thought, If something happened to him, would I be able to say I'd done everything I could? I'm getting older. I'm more mature now.
The good, the bad, and—yes—the ugly, coming to living rooms everywhere:
I'll be good to her, but I do have questions. Why did it take her so long to come home? I could have used her help when Farrah was sick, not just after she died.
I'm thinking of it as an experiment—what happens when two people see the past so differently? I'm hoping we can go to therapy. We'll see if he's willing to do that.
What they actually like about each other:
She's funny and nice to be around. She's beautiful, and smart, and gifted. We were in movies together—that creates a wonderful bond.
He's a charismatic, bigger-than-life person. He does make me laugh, and he's a warm and cuddly person when he's not angry.
Their biggest hope for the relationship:
I see other women with their fathers, and there's a bond. There's a love. There's forgiveness. That's what I want, and I don't think it's ever too late. I'm optimistic.
I want that sense of family, of depending on someone other than myself. I want us to do things together without it being fractious and difficult. And if it doesn't get mended, and he goes his way and I go mine, at least we will have tried.
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Printed from Oprah.com on Friday, March 7, 2014
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