Ryan O'Neal's 'Love Story' co-star Ali MacGraw pays tribute to late actor: 'Huge part of my success'
Ryan O'Neal's "Love Story" co-star Ali MacGraw broke her silence after the actor's death at the age of 82 Friday. On Saturday, the 84-year-old actress shared a tribute to O'Neal, who played her husband in the 1970 romance drama. "Working with Ryan, all those years ago, was one of the great experiences of my film career, and we remained friends ever after," MacGraw wrote in a statement to Fox News Digital. "He was a skilled actor, charming and funny too. I know that a huge part of my success was due to his generosity as my co-star. RYAN O'NEAL DEAD AT 82 "It has been devastating to know just how ill Ryan has been for many years now, and I was not surprised to learn that he had passed away yesterday morning. Thankfully, he was surrounded by his son Patrick and a small group of lifelong, close friends. "My heart goes out to all four of his children and to the people who loved him most. Ryan and I worked together again several years ago with the road company for "Love Letters." It was a wonderful experience, and I shall miss him and the fun we shared … and I pray that he will find peace at last." O'Neal's cause of death has not been released. In 2012, the actor was diagnosed with prostate cancer, a decade after he was first diagnosed with chronic leukemia. LIKE WHAT YOU’RE READING? CLICK HERE FOR MORE ENTERTAINMENT NEWS Directed by Erich Segal, "Love Story" follows a pair of Harvard College students from different backgrounds who fall head over heels in love and marry before tragedy strikes. The film was based on the bestselling 1970 novel of the same name, which was also penned by Segal. "Love Story," widely considered one of the most romantic movies of all time, earned seven Academy Award nominations, including a nod for best picture. O'Neal and MacGraw both earned Oscar nominations, and the two won Golden Globe Awards for their performances. The movie made $130 million at the worldwide box office and has been credited with saving Paramount Pictures from the brink of financial ruin. In an 2020 interview with Town & Country, MacGraw and O'Neal reunited to celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Love Story." "It’s been a fast 50," O’Neal joked to the outlet. "I don’t have those relationships with my wives!" "I cried and I thought I was crazy," MacGraw added of reading the story for the first time. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER According to the outlet, it took a casting search of 1,000 contenders before O’Neal was chosen to co-star alongside MacGraw. O’Neal said that, during his first screen test, the pair kissed so hard that he was certain the role was his. However, a friend later told him MacGraw had kissed everybody like that. Still, O’Neal knew there was something special between the two. "The chemistry has managed to sustain itself for 50 years," he said. The "Paper Moon" star admitted he wasn’t prepared for MacGraw’s performance. "It all caught fire for me there," he said of being in character. "She put her arms around my head, my hair. I just couldn’t stop crying. I loved her. I knew this would soon be over." "Love Story" is still screened annually at Harvard for freshmen. MacGraw shared that students still scream out her famous line, "Love means never having to say you’re sorry!" "It doesn’t mean anything," she told the outlet about the phrase. "I’ve learned that we can make terrible mistakes with the people we love. "Try not to do it again — and try to clean up the hurt. It’s the truth." Fox News Digital's Stephanie Nolasco contributed to this report.