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Video: Inside Farrah and Ryan’s relationship

  1. Closed captioning of: Inside Farrah and Ryan’s relationship

    >>> we are back at 7:44. during the 1980s , farrah fawcett and ryan o'neal were a hollywood power couple. they had fame, fortune and beauty, but they also had their share of troubles. their 30-year romance is detailed in a new article. half of the cover for the september issue features farrah fawcett , the other half features michael jackson . good morning. title of this article, i know you didn't write this, " beautiful people ugly choices." in the article you compare farrah and ryan to angelina and brad, basically they were the angelina and brad of their time but they made some bad choices in life. issues like drug abuse , infidelity and also family feuds. what toll did that take on their relationship?

    >> well, really, looking at their 30-year relationship, it's a story of family dysfunction on an epic scale. what one of the things that interested me about it was that, yes, they were the brad and angelina of their day, they had a child and didn't get married which was much more uncommon back then than it is now. they were rebels in a lot of ways.

    >> ryan referred to them as rebels.

    >> he says, they didn't want to do what people expected us to do. but on another level, it's sort of the story of every prom queen and high school most popular guy football captain. their problems are sort of quintessentially human problems, the drug addiction of many of ryan 's kids, in fact multi-generational problems in his family .

    >> his mother was addicted to drugs.

    >> yes. so there's clearly a long-standing problem in his family . and, you know, bad career choices , bad relationship choices, kids turning out angry and having a lot of problems. these are things that most people can relate to.

    >> talk about the kids. he's very candid with you in discussing his three older children from two separate marriages. when you ask him about griffin, he says i hate him. he calls tatum a bitch. he says about patrick, he's unlikable. he wasn't pulling punches.

    >> shockingly candid. i have to say that many of those things were said when he said of griffin "i hate him," it was when i had to go back to ryan and ask him to respond to what griffin said about the fact that he thinks that ryan was only paying respect to farrah in her final weeks and months because he wanted her money . so that was ryan 's response to that.

    >> he actually refers to him as a narcissistic psychopath.

    >> his father, yes. but ryan is shockingly candid, but he's a very volatile guy. i mean he has had a very truculent attitude , lot of fights with people over the years, and you also have a feeling that if you ask him one day ah?kykykd= certain question, you might get the opposite answer the next day. i think that farrah 's funeral had a sort of brought the family together, some of the family . he barred griffin from attending, but tatum and patrick from whom he had been estranged did come to pay their respects to farrah and said kind things about him afterwards.

    >> the fact that he -- he talks about this in your article. it really speaks to how estranged he is from his kids. tatum was at the funeral, he didn't even recognize her.

    >> well, it's worse than that actually. he tried to pick her up. he said i was a pallbearer and i had just pushed the casket into the hearse. this beautiful blonde woman came running back to me and threw his arms around me and he launches into his don juan thing, let's run off together. she pulls back and says, daddy, it's me, tatum ? he says this to me, it's so sick, i tried to pick up my own daughter. later when i talked to tatum about it, she says that's our relationship in a nutshell. you make of it what you will.

    >> he seems really sad. i've had the opportunity to talk to him about redmond and all the in and out of rehab, think 13 times --

    >> 14.

    >> i think he referred to him at one point at a sap. he gets mad at you when you say he's had a terrible life. you sort of roll your eyes. it's one of those moments ryan really goes after you.

    >> yes. he was saying that redmond had a terrible life and i kind of raised my eyebrows, because clearly redmond also, as a child of two movie stars , both of whom have a lot of money , had a very privileged life. i think people who are struggling these days, many people would say what kind of problems does that kid have? but ryan 's response to that was, "you be my kid." i mean it wasn't easy growing up in that family . that family had huge numbers of problems. you know, ryan 's first wife had a lot of drug and alcohol problems and he had custody of his kids at a very early age. and it's just been a long saga of, you know, just constant turmoil.

    >> you cover an awful lot of it in the pages of this article. thank you so much .

    >> thank you.

    >> appreciate it. again the article is in the september issue of " vanity fair ." we'll be right back after these messages.

TODAY contributor
updated 8/3/2009 10:05:42 AM ET 2009-08-03T14:05:42

Ryan O’Neal and Farrah Fawcett were the golden couple of the 1970s, whose relationship and personal lives became increasingly tarnished by bad career choices, drug addiction and epic family dysfunction, according to a new article in Vanity Fair. 

In an interview with writer Leslie Bennetts, who described the story on TODAY Monday, O’Neal is shockingly candid about his tempestuous 30-year relationship with Fawcett and his less-than-stellar parenting skills.

O’Neal, 68, reveals that he was so out of touch with his own daughter, Tatum, that he didn’t recognize her at Fawcett’s funeral and nearly tried to pick her up.

O’Neal recounted to Bennetts, “A beautiful blond woman comes up and embraces me. I said to her, ‘You have a drink on you? You have a car?’ She said, ‘Daddy, it’s me — Tatum!’

“ ‘I was just trying to be funny with a strange Swedish woman, and it’s my daughter,’ ” Bennetts recounted O’Neal saying. “ ‘It’s so sick.’ ”

Bennetts added that when she asked Tatum about the incident, O’Neal’s daughter said, “That’s our relationship in a nutshell. You make of it what you will.”

‘Very volatile’
O’Neal, a promising, Academy Award-nominated actor whose career fizzled after a string of successful movies in the ’70s, is a “very volatile guy,” Bennetts told Meredith Vieira.

“He has had a very truculent attitude, a lot of fights with people over the years,” Bennetts told Vieira. “You also have the feeling [that] if you ask him one day a certain question, you might get the opposite answer the next day.”

O’Neal and Fawcett met in 1979, when Fawcett was still married to “The Six Million Dollar Man” actor Lee Majors. “On their first date, they kissed until their lips were bloody; by the end of their second date, Fawcett’s marriage was over,” Bennetts writes in the article.

O’Neal and Fawcett were the Angelina and Brad of their day, said Bennetts. They had a child but didn’t marry, which was uncommon then. O’Neal said they were “rebels.”

“We didn’t want to do what people expected us to do,” he told Bennetts.

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But on some levels, Bennetts said the power couple’s love affair was “sort of the story of every prom queen and high school most popular guy, football captain.

“Their problems are quintessentially human problems,” Bennetts told Vieira. 

Fractured family
O’Neal was by Fawcett’s side during her battle with anal cancer, which was documented on video and shown on television as “Farrah’s Story.” Fawcett died at age 62 on June 25.

O’Neal and Fawcett never married, though O’Neal did propose to his longtime companion on camera at the end of her life — a move that O’Neal’s own son, Griffin, dismissed as a cynical ploy for publicity and a way for his father to ensure he was in Fawcett’s will.

According to Bennetts’ article, O’Neal responded to Griffin’s charge by saying, “I hate him! He knows I have money. I made a tremendous amount of money on real estate, more than I deserve.”

Video: Ryan O’Neal on Fawcett’s final hours The actor has had troubled relationships with all four of his children — Tatum, 45, and Griffin, 44, with his first wife, actress Joanna Cook Moore; son Patrick, 42, with second wife Leigh Taylor-Young; and his son with Fawcett, Redmond, 24. 

The family has been fractured by a multigenerational history of drug and alcohol addiction, Bennetts said.

O’Neal said that the only one of his children he speaks to is Redmond, who is in jail for violating probation on a drug charge.

Redmond has been in rehab 14 times, and O’Neal told Bennetts his youngest son endured a “terrible life” despite his privileged background.

By way of explaining Redmond’s travails to Bennetts, O’Neal said, “You be my kid.”

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