Celebrity romances that stay in the limelight are nothing new, but some romances manage to stay the topic of conversation for decades together. One such relationship was Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal’s. The gossip surrounding their unorthodox relation was nothing surprising, though. O’Neal was an infamous womanizer, and Fawcett was the epitome of beauty with a head full of blonde curls, perfect pearly whites, and a jawline to die for.
Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal’s rollercoaster relationship began in the 80s and ended with Fawcett’s death in 2009, with many ups and downs in between. They had pretty much seen it all and then some, starting from a relationship, a child, a separation, other spouses, and in the end, cancer – all while handing careers in the limelight.
Whatever else you say, their relationship was the stuff of novels. A renowned ladies’ man falls in love with an old friend’s wife, practically overnight, and it’s the real deal! The couple welcomes a child into this world and remains together for more than a decade, without making it official. And when they do separate, they eventually make their way back to each other, only for life to have other plans.
Let’s go over Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal’s relationship that managed to make headlines for decades together.
Farrah Fawcett rose to fame as the poster girl. Her picture in a red swimsuit with blonde curls, a dazzling smile, and a barely-there waist shot her to fame overnight in 1976. The poster is one of the best-selling posters of all time, so it’s not far-fetched to say men were crazy behind the blue-eyed beauty.
On the other hand, Ryan O’Neal did a lot of movies and shows, but he was best known as a womanizer. From Barbra Streisand to Diana Ross, he could apparently charm anyone. In the late 70s, O’Neal was reconnecting with actor Lee Majors, his long-lost friend from almost two decades ago who he had recently reconnected with while visiting his daughter Tatum in Toronto. At this time, Majors was married to Fawcett.
In the book Both of Us: My Life with Farrah, O’Neal mentions the first time he saw Fawcett, he found her to be unpretentiously beautiful, vibrant, and refreshing. The first dinner he enjoyed at their place was nice, and the Majors played the perfect hosts. It must have gone better than he expected because, by the second night, O’Neal was considered a close friend. Majors and Fawcett openly said their marriage was as good as over.
While it was all dandy that the three were friends, what happened next was nothing short of shocking. As per O’Neal’s account in his book, Majors was in Canada and told O’Neal to take Fawcett out for dinner because she might be lonely. While it’s just about acceptable for anyone to suggest a friend to take his wife out for dinner, it was outright strange for anyone to ask the favor of O’Neal, who was an infamous womanizer.
O’Neal claims he found Majors’ request odd, but a week later, he invited Fawcett to a Ry Cooder concert. He knew she was a fan, which gave him an excuse to extend the invitation without making things odd. On the call, Fawcett claimed she expected to hear from O’Neal, but she would get back to him with an answer. She eventually decided on going along, but Majors had had a change of heart. He accepted that it was on his request that O’Neal had invited her, but he still didn’t want her to go.
Majors was getting more and more insecure; he would keep calling O’Neal and hang up, and the one time he didn’t hang up, he warned him to stay away from Fawcett. But his insecurity didn’t turn out to be baseless because O’Neal had fallen head over heels for her. Without even talking to Fawcett, he confessed to Majors that he was in love with her.
One thing that many find surprising is Fawcett and O’Neal were never married. Despite an epic love story that spanned three decades, the couple felt the need to tie the knot only twice – once on a sudden whim that didn’t work out, and they eventually changed their mind, and the second time, when it was meant to be but at the same time, not fated to be. Continue watching to know when these yesteryears’ stars almost said I do.’
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At this point, the Fawcett and Majors were at the peak of their careers. Fawcett was riding high on a wave of fame fresh from the success of the TV series Charlie’s Angels, while Majors was a hit from the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man. On the other hand, O’Neal had lost some of the shine he gained from the 1970 film Love Story and was delivering one box-office failure after another. He played a lot of roles, some of which even got critical acclaim and were well-received overseas, but audiences in the US remained unimpressed.
Fawcett and Majors separated in 1979, and rumors were abuzz of a relationship between Fawcett and O’Neal. Interestingly, even though Fawcett had separated from Majors, she continued using the name Fawcett-Majors in film credits till their divorce in 1982. Much of all that went down between the three became headlines as readers were hungry for more gossip.
The media frenzy didn’t die out, but it changed focus for the three of them to the new couple. And Fawcett and O’Neal didn’t disappoint – their relationship was, at least in front of others, the right balance of sugar, spice, and everything nice. Most of the time, the two were the perfect lovebirds, unable to keep their hands off each other. Other times, they were perfectly relatable, such as when they acknowledged they fought often and firmly believed in expressing their opinions and standing by them. When asked about marriage, the charming couple said marriage wasn’t on the cards but neither was separation. They liked where they were and they saw no reason to change it. In 1985, Fawcett and O’Neal had a son, Redmond. When asked about whether they plan to have more children, Fawcett said O’Neal wanted another child but she wasn’t sure.
The two were quite protective of each other. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Fawcett said O’Neal found her beautiful just the way she was sans makeup and the whole get up. At the beginning of their relationship, she agreed to go au naturel for a while. On one such instance, they ran into Jay Bernstein, who was previously Fawcett’s manager. When O’Neal asked Bernstein how Fawcett looked, he honestly replied she seemed tired. O’Neal’s reaction was barely controlled, and Fawcett says it seemed like he would strangle Bernstein for the remark.
The better days gave way to hard times eventually, with O’Neal becoming a drug addict. His daughter Tatum cited his drug abuse as the cause of physical and emotional abuse in her autobiography A Paper Life. She even accused O’Neal of seducing her friend and said she was physically abused by one of his friends. O’Neal’s son Griffin once said his father was high �the whole freaking time,’ and accused him of forcing him to try cocaine when he was only 11.
O’Neal accepts he struggled with chronic drug abuse but claims he didn’t give Griffin cocaine, but not for the reasons we expect. He says he doesn’t ‘remember’ giving cocaine, but it’s not probable, considering he would never give his cocaine to anyone because it was so expensive. O’Neal and his son Redmond were arrested for drug possession back in 2008.
O’Neal had failed Fawcett in more ways than one. In 1997, Fawcett caught O’Neal cheating on her with the 25-year-old actor Leslie Ann Stefanson famous for her role in The General’s Daughter. During testimony in a lawsuit, O’Neal said Fawcett was more hurt than angry, but mostly, she was in shock.
It seems Fawcett was willing to stand by O’Neal no matter what, but she drew the line at infidelity. In 1998, the couple separated but remained friends even after. O’Neal maintains that the reasons for their separation were different. He claims a menopausal Fawcett was undergoing a life change, and he was done with being unappreciated.
The turn of the century proved to a tumultuous time for the now separated couple. After separating with O’Neal, Fawcett dated director James Orr, but soon Orr was arrested for physical abuse when he lashed out at Fawcett for rejecting his marriage proposal. After the fiasco with Orr, Fawcett was romantically involved with her ex-classmate, Gregg Lott, and she was also with O’Neal, but the two had not reconciled their relationship.
In 2001, O’Neal was diagnosed with cancer. Promptly after, the two reconciled their differences, and Fawcett was once again by his side taking care of him. They claim they had never drifted too far apart since they would talk to each other over the phone every other day. O’Neal was in remission, and it seemed as though things were finally going well when Fawcett was diagnosed with anal cancer in 2006.
Soon, their roles reversed and now O’Neal was caring for Fawcett, whose brush with cancer not as brief as O’Neal’s. Her struggle continued for more than two and a half years, where many a time they had hope that she was improving, but cancer was chipping away at her bit by bit. Toward the end, it had spread to her liver. She was mostly bedridden, with IVs stuck into her semi-permanently – some for treatment, others for nourishment.
Of course, Fawcett’s appearance changed during her last years, with her face lacking vibrance and her petite head losing the iconic golden locks. In an interview with Vanity Fair, O’Neal said Fawcett had no vanity about her hair, and it didn’t seem to matter to her when she went bald. In the end, he said he wouldn’t know how to cope in a world without her.
Over the years, both Fawcett and O’Neal mostly never felt the need to officiate their relationship. However, there was one instant when they felt getting married was worth it. It was an impulsive decision, and they were on their way to a church in Nevada, but a flat tire halted them. The moment was lost; the decision left somewhere in the past. Years later, when Fawcett was struggling with cancer, O’Neal proposed again. After having seen it all together, they agreed it was finally time to say �I do.’ They called for a priest to officiate the ceremony, but it was too late. Fawcett had lost her battle against cancer, and the priest instead administered last rights.
Of all the romances one sees and hears of, Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal’s relationship was something very unique. It was real, it was raw, and it was beautiful even when it was ugly.
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