Ali MacGraw Honors ‘Love Story’ Co-star Ryan O’Neal: ‘A Huge Part Of My Success’

Ali MacGraw Honors ‘Love Story’ Co-star Ryan O’Neal: ‘A Huge Part Of My  Success’

Ryan O’Neal continues to live on in the hearts of many including that of his co-star’s Ali MacGraw.

O’Neal passed away on Friday after over a two-decade-long battle with cancer and a lifetime filled with iconic legacies.

Ali MacGraw Pays Tribute To Late Co-star Ryan O’Neal’s Acting Skills

MacGraw broke her silence on her “Love Story” co-star’s passing. The pair were love interests in the 1970 classic romantic movie

Ali MacGraw (as Jennifer), Ryan O'Neal (as Oliver) Love Story (1970)MEGA

“Working with Ryan, all those years ago, was one of the great experiences of my film career, and we remained friends ever after. He was a skilled actor, charming and funny too,” MacGraw began her statement. She then revealed that a considerable part of her success was due to O’Neal’s generosity.

“I know that a huge part of my success was due to his generosity as my co-star. 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.“

The 84-year-old then sent her condolences to the actor’s children, before describing her experience working with him again on “Love Letter” after their 1970 project.

“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,” concluded MacGraw in her statement to PEOPLE.

MacGraw played the role of a working-class lady, Jenny Cavilleri, who fell in love with O’Neal’s Oliver Barret IV despite their different background in “Love Story.” The pair soon got married and discovered Barret was dying of an undisclosed severe illness right when they were about to expand their family.

At the movie’s 50th anniversary in 2021, MacGraw disclosed that despite O’Neal being a famous face and her a rookie, the chemistry was magical. “I had no idea up until the night we saw it, and the whole audience was crying at the end,” shared the actress on the movie’s unexpected success.

MacGraw described her favorite scene where she and O’Neal played in the snow without speaking, saying, “We were making snow angels and crazy stuff so that we’d loosen up, and for somebody who doesn’t know what she’s doing, and that would be me, it’s a very big relief because you are not thinking, ‘Oh I forgot my line.”

Ryan O'Neal (as Oliver), Ali MacGraw (as Jennifer) Love Story (1970)MEGA

On their brief reunion for “Love Letters,” O’Neal once revealed it was fate at work, adding, “Working together again is a dream come true. Ali is an original. She is giving and sensitive to others, and we have never had an argument or cross word all of these years.”

Inside The Late O’Neal’s Battles With Several Illnesses

The “Peyton Place” actor had a lengthy battle with cancer that eventually led to his death last Friday. His son, Patrick O’Neal, broke the news of his passing on social media.

“So this is the toughest thing I’ve ever had to say but here we go. My dad passed away peacefully today, with his loving team by his side supporting him and loving him as he would us. This is very difficult for my wife Summer and I, but I will share some feelings to give you an idea of how great a man he is.”

Patrick described his father as his hero and someone he has always looked up to, adding that, “He was always bigger than life.”

He continued his statement, “When I was born in 1967 my dad was already a TV star on Peyton Place. That’s where he met my mom Leigh Taylor-Young, and about 9 months later (give or take a date night or two) I was born.”

Patrick did not forget to pay homage to his father’s legacy as he spoke highly of his famous works.

“My dad became an international movie star with Love Story at the beginning of the 1970s, a decade he absolutely crushed by starring in movies like What’s Up, Doc?, Paper Moon, Barry Lyndon, A Bridge Too Far, The Main Event, and The Driver,” he wrote.

Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal in the Press Room at The OscarsMEGA

He also added that the name “Ryan” became popular because of his “Hollywood legend” dad’s character in “Love Story.” He concluded his tribute by noting that the 1970 hit movie saved Paramount Studios and earned his father a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.