Ryan O'Neal Is "Not Over" Farrah Fawcett's Death

The actor, whose longtime partner died of cancer in 2009, is now battling cancer himself but expects a full recovery

By Sam Schulz
|  Tuesday, May 1, 2012  |  Updated 1:09 PM CDT
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    Ryan O'Neal spoke wistfully of his relationship with Farrah Fawcett on the "Today" show Tuesday and said he has still not gotten over the late actress' death.

    The 71-year-old "Paper Moon" star had been scheduled to appear Monday but canceled at the last minute. He chalked up the earlier no-show to a panic attack, which he said he had never had before.

    O'Neal discussed his recent prostate cancer diagnosis, his tumultuous relationship with Fawcett and his just-published memoir "Both of Us: My Life with Farrah," which has already drawn the ire of his adult children.

    "I wrote it because I missed her, and it was a way to keep the line between us going. I felt that she was nearby when I wrote this, that she was close," O'Neal told Matt Lauer.

    "I am not over it yet," he said of Fawcett's death in 2009 at the age of 62 after her own long battle with cancer.

    But the couple's relationship was famously tumultuous — "imperfect," O'Neal admitted.

    "I'm hard to live with," he said of their troubles. "I felt that she was uncomfortable with me. I had grown boring to her.

    "I asked her to marry me all the time, all the time. For 18 years I asked her to marry me," he said.

    Though the pair never did wed — though O'Neal said Fawcett agreed to marry him as she was dying — he was confident of their bond.

    "She loved me. She said so: she loved me. I couldn't write a book if she hadn't," he said.

    That, O'Neal said, was despite their flaws and their fighting. He recalled one fight that their young son Redmond interrupted by pretending to stab himself with a kitchen knife, begging his parents to stop fighting.

    "It stopped us, I must say. And we moved the knives up higher, harder to reach," he said.

    Toward the end of her life, he said, "there was no more fighting, there were no more knives. We were extremely close, and I was just was proud of her.

    "She always believed she'd be here on the show with us today. And now it's just me," O'Neal said.

    O'Neal's adult children Tatum, who starred with her father in "Paper Moon" as a child, and Griffin have already disavowed his book, saying it doesn't portray them accurately.

    Both Tatum and Griffin, as well as Redmond, have struggled with drug and alcohol problems — and Ryan O'Neal told Matt Lauer he probably was a bad parent to them.

    "It looks like it, doesn't it?" he said. "I suppose I was."

    O'Neal revealed last month that he is battling prostate cancer from which he expects to make a full recovery.

    He said the disease, at Stage 2, was caught early and he was grateful for the support of his family and friends.

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