On screen, Ryan Oâ€™Neal is perhaps best known for his roles in the classic films Â "Love Story" (1970) andÂ "Paper Moon" (1973). Off screen, his personal relationship with Farrah Fawcett swept the headlines. Though their love life was rocky and not without its Hollywood highs and lows, "Both of Us" explains how O'Neal's respect and love for Farrah never wavered. After being diagnosed with cancer, O'Neal was a bedrock of support until her untimely passing three years later. "Both of Us" is a beautiful expression of undying love, and a monument to the memory of a soul mate.
I remember taking her hand in the car, both of us joyous and laughing, the wind tousling those famous curls as we drove from Tahoe to Reno, to the church. The night before, someone had given me a Cuban cigar. I removed the gold band, slipped it onto her ring finger, and proposed. She accepted, saying, â€śSo, you think you can make an honest woman of me, do you?â€ť
The lake and the forest have a soothing beauty, magnificent nature in repose, almost as appealing to me as the ocean. Farrah preferred it there: the mountain air, the hikes, and, of course, the rugged horseback riding. It was one of those spontaneous moments when everything seemed aligned, as if nothing could get in the way of our future. We seemed perfect for each other. We had talked about getting married early on, but we were rebels. There werenâ€™t many people in the early eighties who lived such a public life who werenâ€™t married. We were getting pressured to do it, not by her parents, really, or by mine, but from society, so we finally decided to get hitched. Then the flat tire. I flagged down a car whose driver offered to take us on to Reno or back to Tahoe. He would have driven us to Cincinnati if Iâ€™d asked, but instead we chose the lake. We thought it was funny, even joked with each other that it had to be â€śa sign.â€ť
Looking back, I canâ€™t help but wonder how my life with this rare woman might have been different if we had gone through with it that day. Why didnâ€™t I just fix the damn tire and get us to the church? Instead of finding a way to follow through with our plans, we let it go. We laughed about it for years. It wasnâ€™t the hand of God that flattened our tire that day. It was a lousy shard of glass.
Sheâ€™s married. Her name is Majors. I donâ€™t know her from Adam, well, Eve. Her husband is actor Lee Majors. He starred in a popular television series, The Six Million Dollar Man, and is also known for playing in Westerns. I know him a bit. I first met him at 20th Century Fox when I was making Peyton Place, five hundred episodes at $750 per episode. Thatâ€™s also where I introduced, pointed out, Frank Sinatra to my costar Mia Farrow. I never played Cupid again. Lee is in Toronto for a movie and Iâ€™m there visiting my daughter, Tatum, whoâ€™s shooting a film with Richard Burton. Sheâ€™s fifteen. Tatum and Lee run into each other, and Tatum says, â€śYou know, Iâ€™m Ryanâ€™s daughter.â€ť
â€śOh yeah, where is he?â€ť
â€śHeâ€™s at the hotel.â€ť
Next thing, heâ€™s calling me. â€śCome down and have a drink with me,â€ť he says.
So I do. And we get a little drunk together and decide to have dinner. Tatum joins us. Lee and I are both leaving the next day. Iâ€™ve been there a week. And he says, â€śLetâ€™s go home together. Weâ€™ll take the same plane.â€ť He changes his flight. Lee is a companionable big guy, worth at least five and a half million. We fly home together and the limo drops us off at my house in town. Itâ€™s on Tower Road, up Benedict Canyon and high in the hills, part of the old John Barrymore estate. We let the limo go and take my car. He lives farther up the hill near Mulholland on a street called Antelo Road, which has gates, and thereâ€™s this beautiful girl waiting for him. Sheâ€™s delightful, full of childlike warmth. There is no pretense or cattiness about her whatsoever; sheâ€™s vibrant and wholesome, refreshing in this town.
We play racquetball. They have their own court. And then she says, â€śStay for dinner,â€ť which I do. She whips up this delicious meal of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and thick country gravy, a Texas treat. Farrah is so sweet to us. Leeâ€™s a heavy drinker, kind of a sad drunk. Their house is handsome, a tasteful blend of western-style accents and fine antiques. There are pictures everywhere, mostly personal photographs. Years later, an earthquake will destroy the place, and the cacophony of glass breaking, which frightened everyone, will turn out not to have been the windows but hundreds of photographs emerging from hundreds of frames. Lee takes me on a tour of the house. He shows me his closet. Itâ€™s a room you can walk into, deep and wide. He must have seventy-five pairs of boots. Where does Farrah keep her stuff? I ask myself. We walk down the hall and he opens a door to a room you can barely turn around in. Farrahâ€™s clothing is piled in there. Some months later, Tatum and I will make the switch. Farrahâ€™s duds get the grand space. Leeâ€™s we move to his den.
I had gone to their home for dinner that first night, but the next night I was supposed to travel to Las Vegas for a boxing match. I have a friend, Andy â€śthe Hawkâ€ť Price, who was fighting Sugar Ray Leonard. Iâ€™m a fight fan as well as an exâ€“amateur boxer. And Farrah says, in this lilting, ever-so-slight Texas drawl, â€śWell, isnâ€™t that fight on TV?â€ť
I say, â€śYes, it is.â€ť
And she says, â€śWhy donâ€™t you see it here? You can play racquetball and watch it with us.â€ť