Tatum O’Neal with Hilary Lifton. Found: A Daughter’s Journey Home. New York, N.Y.: William Moore, 2011.
Tatum O’Neal was being raised by her mother and her mother’s 16 year old boyfriend. Her mother had difficulties with staying sober. Her father, actor Ryan O’Neal, put her in a movie “Paper Moon” where she won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award. Her life became filled with problems from drug use. She became free of drugs and wrote an autobiography “A Paper Life” about overcoming drugs and setting her life straight. Many presumed she has been fine from the on. This book tells how things weren’t all fine.
Her divorce to John McEnroe and being separated from her children during his joint custody time devastated her. She discusses how heroin relieved the pain.
O’Neal revived her acting career. She won a role on the TV series “Rescue Me”. She writes how she had been clean of drugs for a year and hadn’t done heroin for six years when she was arrest for buying drugs.
RyanO’Neal and Tatum O’Neal did not speak to each other for eight years. Ryam made uncomplimentary statements about his offspring and was arrested for shooting a gun at his son Griffin.
Tatum O’Neal had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous and had a sponsor who helped her through the group’s steps. She found she still thought about using drugs despite achieving sobriety.
Tatum O’Neal had painful nerve damage from a 1976 automobile accident as well as having chronic degenerative disc disease that required three surgeries. She needed prescription drugs for the pain. Her observation about dependency is that the desire to return to drug use “gets you when you least expect it.”
The cast and crew of “Rescue Me” was supportive after her arrest. Fellow Denis Leary told the press how she never missed work and that he would continue working with her. Ironically, her character portrayed a drunk.
Tatum O’Neal entered heroin rehabilitation in 1994. She wanted to end her dependency on heroin. She used heroin because “heroin was the only things that made me feel like I was meant to be alive.” She called her father from rehab yet Ryan replied “don’t blame me for the fact that you’re smoking the dragon” and then hung up. They had not spoken to each other since Tatum’s autobiography said things that hurt her father. She realized her heroin use was her own responsibility.
Tatum’s son Sean studied acting at Occidental College in hopes of becoming a third generation actor. He asked to learn about his acting heritage. Tatum let Sean call Ryan even though Tatum and Ryan had not spoken in years. Ryan and Sean met and things went well between them.
Ryan started dating Farrah Fawcett when Tatum was 15 years old. Ryan put more attention on Farrah while leaving Tatum and Griffin to themselves, which included their smoking marijuana.
Tatum attended Farrah Fawcett’s funeral. When she hugged her father, Ryan asked her out for a drink. Ryan did not recognize Tatum and was unaware he was hitting on his own daughter.
Filming “Paper Moon” had brought Ryan and Tatum more together and then it separate them. Tatum was paid $16,000 to appear in the movie.
Tatum was then offered a role in the movie “Bad News Bears”. She was offered $150,000. Ryan turned down offers until the producers offered her $350,000 and a percent of gross profits. She was the highest paid child actor to date.
When Ryan and Tatum reconnected years later, her book and his past parenting were never discussed. Tatum didn’t want to upset their fragile truce. Ryan and Tatum formed a film documentary company together.
The O’Neal family discussed starring in a reality show. They agreed to it. Ryan and Sean argued. Ryan kicked Sean out of his car. Ryan asked Tatum to get him. Tatum proceeded with the show believing the cameras could serve as mediators in family relationships. She learned from Griffin that Ryan had no remorse for what happened in the past. They worked on reconciliation. Tatum notes she’s a survivor and she will continue working at life.