Tatum O'Neal

Tatum O'Neal Biography

Actress (1963–)
Tatum O'Neal became the youngest winner of a competitive Academy Award in 1974, at age 10, receiving the best supporting actress honor for her work in 1973's Paper Moon.


Born in 1963 in Los Angeles, California, Tatum O'Neal began acting as a child. She won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in 1974—becoming, at age 10, the youngest winner of a competitive Oscar—for her performance in Paper Moon (1973), which also starred her father, Ryan O'Neal. Tatum had another hit with the comedy The Bad News Bears in 1978. In 1980, she co-starred with Kristy McNichol in Little Darlings. O'Neal worked infrequently during the 1980s and '90s. She later landed some television work, including a recurring role on Rescue Me. In 2011, she published Found: A Daughter's Journey Home.

Child Star

Born in Westwood, Los Angeles, California, on November 5, 1963, Academy Award-winning actress Tatum Beatrice O'Neal is the daughter of actors Joanna Moore and Ryan O'Neal. Her parents had another child, Tatum's brother Griffin, before divorcing in 1967.

Tatum O'Neal's first major film proved to be a family affair. After her father landed the leading role of con artist Moses Pray in Peter Bogdanovich's Depression-era dramatic comedy Paper Moon (1973), Tatum was brought in to play a young girl who is possibly his daughter and ends up being his unlikely sidekick. While they were later known for their difficult relationship off-screen, the seemingly genuine connection between father and daughter in the film resonated with audiences. In 1974, at the age of 10, the actress took home an Academy Award for her work in Paper Moon—making her the youngest winner of a competitive Oscar.

Following up on this critical and commercial success, Tatum O'Neal enjoyed strong box-office popularity with The Bad News Bears (1976). Also starring Walter Matthau and Jackie Earle Haley, the film follows the humorous exploits of a ragtag little league baseball team. That same year, O'Neal reunited with her father and director Peter Bogdanovich for Nickelodeon (1976), playing a 12-year-old silent-film scenarist—a character based on famed screenwriter Anita Loos. She received positive reviews for her performance, but the film failed to attract much of an audience.

Later Career

As she transitioned from cute kid to teenager, O'Neal found her career waning. She starred in the equestrian drama International Velvet (1978) with Christopher Plummer and Anthony Hopkins. The movie was a sequel to the 1944 film National Velvet which starred a young Elizabeth Taylor. She later appeared opposite Kristy McNichol in Little Darlings (1980), but found herself eclipsed by the more popular McNichol.

A few more forgettable film roles followed, including in Circle of Two (1981) with Richard Burton. O'Neal worked infrequently throughout the 1980s and '90s. In 1986, she married tennis star John McEnroe. The couple had three children together—Kevin, Sean and Emily—before separating in 1992. They divorced two years later. McEnroe eventually gained full custody of the children as O'Neal battled drug addiction.

In Recent Years

O'Neal has enjoyed some success on the small screen, appearing on the 2006-2007 series Wicked Wicked Games and having a recurring role on Denis Leary's firefighter drama Rescue Me.

In recent years, O'Neal has continued to wrestle with substance abuse. In 2008, she was arrested for buying crack cocaine near her New York City apartment.

In 2011, O'Neal appeared with her father on the documentary series Ryan & Tatum: The O'Neals, which followed the pair as they tried to mend their troubled family life (at one point, she and her father had been estranged for more than two decades). The actress also wrote about her relationship with her father in the 2011 memoir Found: A Daughter's Journey Home. The following year, O'Neal reportedly returned to rehabilitation for treatment.

Despite her personal challenges, Tatum O'Neal has returned her focus to acting in recent years. In 2013, she was cast in Peter Bogdanovich's film Squirrels to Nuts (2014), also starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.

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