Drug arrest revives old troubles for Tatum O’Neal

Monday June 2 4:44 PM ET

Tatum O’Neal swore she was done with drugs.

The Oscar-winning former child actress proclaimed she was sober as she promoted her 2004 tell-all memoir, cobbled her acting career back together and even offered advice to misbehaving pop star Britney Spears.

O’Neal’s arrest Sunday on charges of buying cocaine in her gritty-chic downtown Manhattan neighborhood suggests her struggle with addiction may not be over.

O’Neal, 44, looked tired and said nothing as she was arraigned Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance. The daughter of screen star Ryan O’Neal entered no plea and was released without bail until a July 28 court date.

Prosecutors are recommending drug treatment for the actress, who detailed her dependency on heroin and cocaine in her best-selling memoir, “A Paper Life.”

Her lawyer, Robert Marinelli, declined to comment Monday. Her manager and publicist did not immediately return telephone calls after her court appearance, while her agent’s office referred calls to her publicist.

The arrest was another low point in a life that has included many. Her childhood, she has said, was a Hollywood horror show. Then came years of drug abuse, public feuding with her father and a searing child custody fight with her ex-husband, tennis star John McEnroe. Her acting career vaporized.

But a determined O’Neal rebuilt it in recent years, telling The New York Times last year that she called and e-mailed her agent daily and accepted every role offered. She appeared in independent films, played guest roles on such shows as “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” and “8 Simple Rules … for Dating My Teenage Daughter” and took a spin on “Dancing with the Stars.”

Her efforts solidified into a recurring role as hard-drinking Maggie Gavin in the FX cable channel’s television drama “Rescue Me.” The show is now in production for its fifth and sixth seasons.

Show producer Sony Pictures Television said the actress has shot one episode for the upcoming season and is scheduled to appear in several more, but Sony Pictures declined to comment further.

Police found two bags of cocaine in O’Neal’s right front pants pocket when she was arrested about 7:30 p.m. Sunday on the rundown-turned-trendy Lower East Side, according to a court complaint. Officers saw O’Neal accept the drug from a man during a routine drug sweep, police said. Initial reports suggested she had bought crack, but police later said it was powder cocaine.

At age 10, O’Neal won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for 1973’s “Paper Moon,” becoming the youngest person ever to win an Oscar. Three years later, her $350,000 paycheck for “The Bad News Bears” made her Hollywood’s highest-paid child star.

But behind the scenes, O’Neal’s life was a drama of neglect, dysfunction and debauchery, according to her memoir.

She described her mother, the late actress Joanna Moore, as a pill-popping mess and claimed her “Love Story” star father slugged her out of jealousy when she won her Oscar; he denounced the book as “malicious lies” and “clouded memories.”

In May 2007, prosecutors declined to charge Ryan O’Neal for firing what the actor called a warning shot during a brawl with his son. O’Neal contended he fired the shot in self-defense after his son, Griffin, attacked him with a fireplace poker during an argument at the actor’s Malibu home.

In 1983, police were called to their home after a fight in which Ryan O’Neal knocked out two of his son’s teeth, the Los Angeles Times reported. No charges were filed.

Griffin O’Neal was convicted of reckless boating in a 1986 accident that killed the son of film director Francis Ford Coppola.

Meanwhile, an adolescent Tatum was drawn into an opium-heightened orgy at age 12, according to her book.

Her 1986 marriage to McEnroe was little healthier, according to both. He wrote in his 2002 autobiography, “You Cannot Be Serious,” that the two were high during their first night together. She wrote that the famously temperamental tennis great physically abused her, which he denied, saying he was “very disappointed in Tatum’s interpretation of my life and the lives of our children.”

The two split in the early 1990s. As her drug problems deepened, O’Neal lost custody of their three children.

She saw echoes of her story in Spears’ misfortunes last year, when the singer was ordered temporarily to surrender custody of her two young children after she engaged in a spate of odd antics. O’Neal told “Entertainment Tonight” that Spears needed to seek addiction treatment, as she had.

Her own addictions, she has repeatedly said, are behind her.

“For years I could hardly look people in the eye,” she wrote in her memoir. “Now that I’ve burned away the painful debris of my life, I feel courageous and open.”


Associated Press Writers Jennifer Peltz and Colleen Long contributed to this report.



Tatum O’Neal arrested on cocaine charges

03 June 2008

By Richard Luscombe

AS A child star nicknamed “Tantrum” for her on-set histrionics, the actress Tatum O’Neal made an early start on a life filled with drama and controversy.

Now, just four years after declaring herself “clean and sober” in an explosive autobiography detailing her three-decade battle with drug addiction, the 44-year-old Oscar winner’s career has hit a low point – an appearance in a New York courtroom to aADVERTISEMENTnswer charges of possession of crack cocaine.

O’Neal, the daughter of actor Ryan O’Neal and the former wife of tennis star John McEnroe, with whom she has three children, was arrested in Manhattan after police said they saw her handing money to a street dealer.

She claimed she was “doing research” for an acting role as an addict, but later admitted she was buying drugs for private use, according to members of the narcotics team who searched her and claimed to have found bags of regular cocaine, crack and a pipe to smoke it in.

Witnesses say she broke down in tears and pleaded with the officers to let her off with a warning. “I’ve been clean for a long time. Today was the first time I was relapsing, but you guys saved me. Can you let me go?” she allegedly asked them.

The incident came as a surprise to fans who believed that O’Neal, the youngest Academy Award winner at ten for her role in the 1973 film Paper Moon, had beaten her demons.

In her 2004 book A Paper Life, she claimed to be “rediscovering herself as an actress, mother and wonderfully vibrant woman in the prime of her life”.

“Now I’ve burned away the painful debris of my life, I feel courageous and open, less a celluloid image of a woman than purely, authentically Tatum,” she wrote.

But the memories of her turbulent upbringing were never far away. Behind her Oscar success in the film, in which she starred with her flamboyant father as a con artist, and her status as the world’s highest-paid young star, lay the foundations of a path to self-destruction.

As a teenager, she became a regular on the Hollywood party circuit, becoming addicted to drugs and sex and claiming to have taken part in an opium- fuelled orgy with fellow actress Melanie Griffith at the age of 12.

On set, she earned a reputation as an irritable young prima donna who would often bawl out stagehands and fellow actors when she did not get her way.

Then came her marriage to the fiery former Wimbledon champion McEnroe in 1986.

She lapsed back into heroin addiction and McEnroe gained sole custody of the children in 1998.

In recent years, O’Neal has been trying to rebuild her career with an appearance on the US television show Dancing With the Stars, a regular role as a fireman’s alcoholic sister in the drama Rescue Me and some minor film roles.

“On the face of it, this is a classically bad Hollywood child star story,” said Joal Ryan, author of Former Child Stars: The Story of America’s Least Wanted.

“She had early success, an Oscar, but trouble resurrecting a career and all sorts of trouble with her family background and issues with her father. Money changes things, but was she able to buy more trouble because she was in Hollywood?”

Guns, drugs, alcohol and death: how a movie dynasty turned into a family at war

MEMBERS of the hell-raising O’Neal family are no strangers to American courtrooms.

Ryan O’Neal, 67, known as well for his partying and on-off romance with former Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett as any of his acting roles, was charged with assault last year after allegedly firing a gun at his son Griffin during an argument at their Malibu home. O’Neal claimed his son attacked him with a poker.

Griffin O’Neal, 43, who like his sister Tatum became a drug addict, was convicted of manslaughter in 1987 for the death of director Francis Ford Coppola’s son, a friend, in a boating accident. Griffin was high on drugs at the time and failed to spot a rope tied between two boats he was attempting to pass. Gian-Carlo Coppola suffered head injuries when he was struck and thrown to the deck. Relations between the O’Neals have been strained since Tatum accused her father in her 2004 autobiography of beating her and her brother during their childhood.

She claimed that her father was often violent to her and Griffin after her alcoholic mother, the actress Joanna Moore, left them. Tatum also claimed to have been molested by friends of her father, who dismissed the allegations as “malicious lies” designed to boost sales of her book.

No family member attended her 1986 marriage to John McEnroe, and she has lived alone in New York since losing custody of the couple’s three children in 1998.

The full article contains 817 words and appears in The Scotsman newspaper.Page 1 of 1

Last Updated: 02 June 2008 10:04 PM
Source: The Scotsman
Location: Edinburgh




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