Farrah Fawcett, from “Charlie’s Angels” fame, was known for her sensuality and stunning beauty.
The actress was loved and admired by many people, but her heart only belonged to one man — Ryan O’Neal.
The two stars’ love for each other remained alive until she passed, and it took years before he went to join her.
Ryan O’Neal is a renowned actor, famous for his performances in films such as “Love Story” and “Paper Moon” from the 1970s. He had a relationship with Farrah Fawcett that lasted for three decades.
Ryan and Farrah began dating in the late 1970s, but their relationship had its ups and downs. In 1985, during their relationship, the couple welcomed a son and their only child, Redmond O’Neal.
Farrah became a sex symbol in the 1970s for her iconic swimsuit poster and role as one of the three female private detectives in the hit television show, “Charlie’s Angels.” Alongside her co-stars, Jaclyn Smith and Kate Jackson, Farrah succeeded greatly on the show.
But a year after she became famous, the actress decided to leave the show. The decision surprised those who worked with her. The showrunners at the time had repeatedly attempted to offer her their best solutions to prevent her from leaving.
Even though they tried to stop her, the star was determined to leave and become a serious actress. She explained, “I knew that if I was going to stay in the business, I had to change. I mean, I wanted to change.”
To break away from her image as a sex symbol, Farrah showcased her acting skills in the drama series “The Burning Bed.” The show received widespread critical acclaim and was one of the most highly-rated TV movies in the industry.
The star’s incredible performance earned her her first of three Emmy Award nominations, solidifying her reputation as the queen of TV movies. The whole world fell in love with Farrah and her beauty, but only one person could truly capture her heart—Ryan.
He was believed to be the love of Farrah’s life and had been with her through her accomplishments in show business and even when she battled cancer. Ryan continued asking her to be his wife until her last breath despite her being barely able to speak.
After she passed on, he remained single and never remarried because he never stopped loving her. Ryan later recalled the agony and struggles they went through when she was diagnosed and later died.
Ryan Remembers Farrah’s Cancer and Death
In a 2009 interview with Barbara Walters on ABC, Ryan shared his memories of learning about Farrah’s serious cancer diagnosis and their final moments together. He said the actress went to Texas to be with her mother, who was ill, and stayed there after the parent passed away.
One day, Farrah called Ryan and told him she was bleeding. He retold, “I said you have to get back here right away.” She was later diagnosed with anal cancer, a rare type of disease. According to her physician, Dr. Lawrence Piro, Farrah’s symptoms appeared suddenly, and there was no opportunity for her to discover them earlier.
He also said the cancer had progressed quickly, explaining that the actress’s condition was “treatable but not curable” and that they had the best tools to suppress the tumor but could never altogether remove it.
Despite her complex health, Farrah, whom Lawrence described as an “amazing fighter,” remained patient and determined to live. Ryan, on the other hand, struggled to accept her situation. He admitted to panicking but said, “I’ve been living with cancer for eight years at this point, and I saw lots of what cancer can do, and I just knew one thing, that Farrah Fawcett was hard to kill.”
As Farrah’s condition worsened, Ryan renewed his efforts to marry her, and she eventually agreed. They planned to tie the knot as soon as possible. The couple shared light moments and jokes even during the most challenging times.
The actress even jokingly reminded Ryan about signing a prenuptial agreement. Meanwhile, Farrah’s longtime best friend, Alana Stewart, was also present during her last days and recalled how the star’s face would light up every time Ryan walked into the room.
Heartbroken, the actor remembered a moment when Farrah asked him if she would ever make it. He recalled, “I said sure, oh, sure, you’ll make it, and if you don’t, I’ll go with you.” While he managed to assure her, he also admitted that the first time Farrah wondered if she would survive, he didn’t like her question.
Sadly, Farrah passed away on June 25, 2009, before they could exchange vows. The actress’ longtime doctor stated that her death was peaceful and pain-free, and she was surrounded by love. The physician added that Ryan was with Farrah in her final moments.
He showered her with sweet gestures and memories of their life together and held her hand until she passed away. Lawrence said the reason the actor and Farrah wanted to get married was to establish their real commitment to each other in a traditional sense.
Although they were never married, Lawrence described them as “soulmates” whose connection was more profound than any other couple. Farrah’s death rocked Hollywood.
Jaclyn, who had a close friendship with her, fondly remembered the actress’ deep connection with Ryan and best described it: “Ryan was the love of her life, and she, his. Whether they had a fight or were back together, it was always Ryan. The father of your child. Connected forever.”
Although they never got to tie the knot, Ryan never stopped feeling the way he did about Farrah. The former couple also reunited when he had his own health scare.
Ryan’s Love for Farrah Endures
Ryan loved Farrah deeply. He stayed by her side during her final days, sleeping on a cot near her Los Angeles hospital bed. The night before she passed away, he reminisced about their first meeting and made her feel how much he loved her.
Even after years had passed since Farrah’s death, Ryan’s love for her remained strong, and he remained single. He admitted, “There was never a day I didn’t love her.”
Ryan and Farrah raised their son together before they split in 1997. The couple reconciled in 2001 when Ryan was diagnosed with leukemia, and she cared for him. Even after she died in 2009, he publicly expressed his love for her.
In 2017, he paid a sweet tribute to her on her birthday, posting a photo of them together on Instagram and writing the caption: “Happy birthday, baby. I love you forever and always.” Farrah’s death carried with it a silver lining when it brought Ryan and his family back together after being estranged for 20 years.
The actor has four children with three different women and has had complicated relationships with them in the past. His daughter Tatum wrote about her troubled relationship with him in her 2004 autobiography, “A Paper Life.”
She revealed in 2010 that he reached out to her and apologized. Tatum also told him that she needed him in her life. In September 2020, Ryan reunited with his family. His grandson, Sean McEnroe, shared a photo of the family on Instagram, including his mother, Tatum, and siblings Kevin and Emily.
Sean reflected on the rarity and significance of the moment, as the last time they were all together was at the 30th anniversary of the film “Paper Moon” in 2003. The caption read, “This is one of the most memorable photos of my life… The entire West Coast is burning, but if the O’Neals can reconcile, truly anything is possible.”
However, Ryan was spotted in September 2017 looking frail. He was using a cane while walking in Malibu with his son Redmond. At the time, he was recovering from back surgery.
Regardless of how frail he looked, Ryan still honored Farrah. Fourteen years after her death, Ryan still placed roses on her Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Valentine’s Day. While Farrah and Ryan never sealed their union with marriage, in the end, their love was stronger than any piece of paper could establish.
Even in death, they were united, and Ryan carried her memory with him forever. The actor was in his early 80s when he left to join the woman of his dreams in the afterlife.
How and When Did Ryan Die?
On December 8, 2023, Ryan passed away at the age of 82. Patrick, his son, confirmed the news via an Instagram post that included a lengthy and touching tribute and a picture of the sun setting on a beach. However, no cause or place of death was revealed.
The star’s son confessed that he already missed and still loved his late father and said the rest of the family felt the same way. The day after Ryan’s death, Farrah’s foundation uploaded a lovely throwback photo of the former couple, writing about how they were “so deeply saddened” by losing him.
The late actor had been one of the major supporters of Farrah’s organization since it began and it honored him in 2022 for his assistance with its cancer work and the late actress’s legacy. He was called the love of her life despite the difficult times they faced, adding, “They are together now.”
The organization concluded its post by wishing Ryan a peaceful rest. While he might have gotten a chance to bid his father farewell, one person who failed to do the same to Ryan’s love, Farrah, on her deathbed, was their only child.
While Farrah was fighting cancer, her main reason for wanting to live was her son, Redmond. The actress’ son was still young when she passed, but she ensured that he was well cared for even after she passed away.
Her assistant, Mike Pingel, shared how much the actress loved her son and being there for him. He divulged, “Redmond was her moon, her stars, her sky, her heart. Her father was also, but Redmond was her life.”
Over four years after her death, Redmond finally shared how losing his mother affected him. Redmond did not bid farewell to his mother, as he was imprisoned when she died. However, Farrah never knew that, as her son’s father kept the information from her.
Despite feeling bad about his mother not knowing that he was engaged in criminal activity, four years after admitting his guilt, Redmond was arrested once again after allegedly robbing a convenience store. His half-sister, Tatum, admitted that she loved her brother but was frightened by his dependency on illicit substances.