Hollywood relationships can be spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment type of companionships that are often short-lived but filled with overwhelming passion.
Sometimes, with these chaotic relationships, there is a truly deep connection that draws the two people together, and through tough times they prove that they each hold a special place in each other’s hearts.
This is the case for the relationship between Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal.
Fawcett broke through into the entertainment world with toothpaste and shampoo commercials in the early 60s. Around this time, O’Neal wasn’t acting, rather he was defending his 18-4 record as a professional boxer. Although, he did come from a family of Hollywood workers, his mother Patricia an actress, and his father Charles a TV screenwriter.
Fawcett predominately made a name for herself in the 70s with roles in Myra Breckinrudge and Logan’s Run before scoring one of the lead roles in the popular TV series Charlie’s Angels. Along the way, she married fellow actor Lee Majors in 1973.
However, Fawcett saw that her status as an actor was overly focused on her looks and she quickly became something of a sex symbol in Hollywood, something she did not want for her career.
“When [Charlie’s Angels] got to be Number Three, I figured it was our acting,” she said, per Vanity Fair. “When it got to be Number One, I decided it could only be because none of us wears a bra.”
In a stunt to save her career and be recognized as a talented actor rather than a pretty face, she quit the immensely popular TV show to focus on roles where she’d be taken much more seriously.
It proved to be a move she wouldn’t regret, as throughout her acting career, she earned four Emmy nominations and one Golden Globe nomination.
In 1979, O’Neal was twice divorced with three children and Fawcett’s husband, Majors, asked Ryan to check on Farrah while he was away for work. This favor was the start of their love affair as Farrah and Lee divorced just three years later in 1982.
Three years after that, Farrah and Ryan welcomed their only son Redmond.
Farrah and Ryan continued their relationship for almost twenty years, never marrying and dealing with substance abuse issues on Ryan’s side, which really took its toll on Farrah and her love for the Paper Moon actor.
But it wasn’t until 1997 that Farrah had enough and called it quits after catching Ryan in bed with another woman.
They decided to split up and jointly raise Redmond as co-parents. That was until 2001, however, when Ryan was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia, which is a “slowly progressing blood and bone marrow” type of cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute.
This life-altering news is what brought them back together, as O’Neal told Vanity Fair in 2009.
“We started over again, and this time we built it in a way that had foundation and trust,” O’Neal remembered nearly a decade later. “Our son was happy. And Farrah was mature. She didn’t get mad at me so easily.”
They stayed together until Farrah’s death in 2009, in which she died from anal cancer.
Ten years after her passing, Ryan, as well as some of the couple’s close friends, talked with People about her final days in which she spent much of that time with the father of her son.
“There was never a day I didn’t love her.”
Fawcett’s good friend Sylvia Dorsey talked about Farrah and Ryan’s relationship and how it worked despite the struggles they endured.
“Ryan was the love of her life. I don’t think she was happy without him. They fought and loved with passion. It was never boring. They were electric together.”
Farrah spent her final days in St. John’s Medical Center in LA and Ryan never left her side.
“The night before she died, [Ryan] was talking and talking, leading up to the story of when he first met Farrah,” close friend Mela Murphy said. “It was his way of telling her how much he loved her. She looked over at me and rolled her eyes, and then she smiled.”
As her final days approached, Ryan decided to propose to his longtime love and mother of his child. Another friend of the couple, Alana Stewart, spoke on that experience.
“He never left her side, especially those last few months,” Stewart recalled. “I think they would’ve married if she had made it because he asked her to marry him in the hospital and she said yes. But she took a turn for the worse. This was just a few weeks before the end, so perhaps it wasn’t realistic.”
“The two of them had a deep bond and deep love,” she added. “No matter what they went through, the ups and downs, he was the one she wanted by her side.”
And in the end, he was that one.