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Tatum O'Neal
Born Tatum Beatrice O'Neal
November 5, 1963 (1963-11-05) (age 46)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1973—present
Spouse(s) John McEnroe (1986–1994) (divorced) 3 children

Tatum Beatrice O'Neal (born November 5, 1963) is an American actress best known for her film work as a child actress in the 1970s. She remains, at the age of 10, the youngest actor to win a competitive Academy Award.


Family background

O'Neal was born in Los Angeles, California, the daughter of actors Ryan O'Neal and Joanna Cook Moore, who had appeared in various motion pictures with Ryan O'Neal. Her brother, Griffin, was born in 1964. In 1967, her parents divorced. Her father married actress Leigh Taylor-Young, a marriage which produced her half-brother, Patrick. She also has another half-brother, Redmond, from Ryan O'Neal's relationship with actress Farrah Fawcett. Tatum's mother died in 1997 of lung cancer at age 63, after a career in which she had appeared in such movies as Touch of Evil.


Child actress

O'Neal after winning the Oscar in 1974

In 1974, Tatum O'Neal became the youngest person ever to win a competitive Academy Award, a record that still stands as of 2010. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress for her performance in Paper Moon. O'Neal played the role of Addie Loggins, a child con artist being tutored by a Depression-era grifter played by her father, Ryan. She was 10 years old at the time she won the award.

During her childhood and teenage years, O'Neal starred in notable films such as The Bad News Bears (1976) with Walter Matthau, International Velvet (1978) with Christopher Plummer and Anthony Hopkins, and Little Darlings (1980) with Kristy McNichol. She also appeared in the less-successful film Nickelodeon (1976) with her father Ryan, and did a nude scene in Circle of Two (1980) with Richard Burton. She appeared as the title character in the Faerie Tale Theatre episode Goldilocks and the Three Bears (1984).

Adult career

O'Neal's acting career took a backseat to her marriage to John McEnroe, a professional tennis player, for many years. She would appear in only five films during the next 15 years. One notable role of hers was in Basquiat (1996).

In the early 2000s, O'Neal began acting more frequently and made guest appearances on Sex and the City, 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent. In 2005, O'Neal began a recurring role as Maggie Gavin on the firehouse drama series Rescue Me, portraying the unbalanced and lively sister of Tommy Gavin, played by Denis Leary.

In January 2006, she participated in the second season of ABC's reality series Dancing with the Stars but was eliminated in the second round. She went on to do commentary for the series on Entertainment Tonight.

From 2006 to 2007, she starred as the vindictive and psychotic Blythe Hunter in the My Network TV prime-time drama Wicked Wicked Games. She appears opposite Nashawn Kearse and Vanessa L. Williams in the Liberty Artists feature film My Brother (2007). She currently has one feature film in production, scheduled for release in 2009.

Personal life

One of O'Neal's first public boyfriends was pop star Michael Jackson, whom she dated in the late 1970s to early '80s. In 1986, O'Neal married tennis player John McEnroe. No one from her family attended the ceremony. The couple have three children: Kevin (born 1986), Sean (born 1987) and Emily (born 1991). They separated in December 1992 and were divorced in 1994. Following the divorce, O'Neal's drug problems reemerged and she developed an addiction to heroin. As a result of her drug problems, McEnroe obtained custody of the children in 1998.[1]

On June 1, 2008, she was arrested for allegedly buying crack cocaine near her Manhattan apartment building.[2] When police searched her, they allegedly found two bags of drugs — one of crack cocaine, one of regular cocaine — and an unused crack pipe.[2] She was charged with a misdemeanor, criminal possession of a controlled substance. Authorities released her without bail.[2] On July 2, 2008, O'Neal pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in connection with the arrest and agreed to spend two half-day sessions in a drug treatment program.[3]

Autobiography claims

In her autobiography, A Paper Life, O'Neal alleged that she had been molested by a male friend of her father. She also alleges physical and emotional abuse from her father, much of which she attributed to drug use. She also detailed her own heroin addiction and its effects on her relationship with her children. Her father, Ryan, denied these allegations.[4] In a prepared statement, Ryan O'Neal said: "It is a sad day when malicious lies are told in order to become a 'best-seller'."[4]

O'Neal writes in her autobiography that when she was 13, her father took her and her friend Melanie Griffith (18 at the time[5]) on a trip to Europe, where she caught him having sex with Griffith in their hotel room.[5]


Year Film Role Notes
1973 Paper Moon Addie Loggins Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year – Actress
1976 The Bad News Bears Amanda Whurlizer
Nickelodeon Alice Forsyte
1978 International Velvet Sarah Brown
1980 Circle of Two Sarah Norton
Little Darlings Ferris
1981 Prisoners Christie (never released)
1985 Certain Fury Scarlet
1992 Little Noises Stella
1996 Basquiat Cynthia Kruger
2002 The Scoundrel's Wife Camille Picou US video title: The Home Front
2003 The Technical Writer Slim
2006 My Brother Erica
2008 Saving Grace Grace
Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal Lorene Tippit
2010 The Runaways Marie Harmon
Last Will Hayden Emery post-production
Sweet Lorraine Lorraine Bebee completed
Mr. Sophistication Kim Waters filming
Year Title Role Notes
1984 Faerie Tale Theatre Goldilocks "Goldilocks and the Three Bears"
1989 CBS Schoolbreak Special Kim "15 and Getting Straight"
1993 Woman on the Run: The Lawrencia Bembenek Story Lawrencia Bembenek
2003 Sex and the City Kyra "A Woman's Right to Shoes"
2004 8 Simple Rules Ms. McKenna "Opposites Attract: Part 3: Night of the Locust"
Law and Order: Criminal Intent Kelly Garnett "Semi-Detached"
2005 Ultimate Film Fanatic judge
Rescue Me Maggie cast member, 2005 to 2009
2006 Dancing with the Stars Herself 5 episodes
Wicked Wicked Games Blythe Hunter 51 episodes

See also



  • Tatum O'Neal autobiography: A Paper Life. ISBN 0-06-054097-4.

External links

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