Tatum O’Neal told a newspaper columnist she is grateful to the New York City police officers who busted her for cocaine and saved her from herself.
“I’m still sober!” the 44-year-old actress told New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser in a phone call shortly after being released from custody Monday.
“Just when I was about to change that and wreck my life, the cops came and saved me! I was saved by the bell, by the guys in the Seventh Precinct.”
O’Neal is due back in court July 28 to face a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance.
She was arrested Sunday night during a routine drug sweep in her Lower East Side neighborhood. Police said they found two bags of cocaine in her pants pocket.
O’Neal, the daughter of Ryan O’Neal and ex-wife of John McEnroe, has publicly chronicled her struggles with heroin and cocaine addiction. She said she has been sober in recent months, going to 12-step recovery meetings every day.
She told Peyser she had sought out drugs Sunday evening because she was sad about the death of her 16-year-old Scottish terrier — but didn’t take the drugs. She said she still hoped to celebrate a year of sobriety July 10.
O’Neal told Peyser spending 18 hours behind bars wasn’t bad.
“I slept on a mattress with a couple of ladies because I was tired. ... And I thought the thing that was cool about New York, no special treatment. No special cell. It wasn’t that horrible. I think it’s worse for the people that don’t have a lawyer to get them out.”
O’Neal won a best supporting actress Oscar at 10 for 1973’s “Paper Moon,” becoming the youngest person ever to win an Academy Award.
Her career later foundered, but she revived it in recent years. She has a recurring role as the boozy Maggie Gavin in FX cable channel’s drama “Rescue Me,” now in production for its fifth and sixth seasons.
She detailed her troubles with drugs in a 2004 memoir, “A Paper Life.”