Charles Patrick Ryan O'Neal, Jr. (born April 20, 1941), better known as Ryan O'Neal, is an American actor best known for his appearances in the ABC nighttime soap opera Peyton Place and the 1970 film Love Story, for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations as Best Actor.
O'Neal was born on April 20, 1941 in Los Angeles, California, the eldest son of minor actress Patricia (née O'Callaghan) and novelist/screenwriter Charles "Blackie" O'Neal. His brother, Kevin, is an actor and screenwriter. His maternal grandfather was Irish and his maternal grandmother was a Russian Jew. O'Neal attended University High School, and trained there to become a Golden Gloves boxer. During the late 1950s, Blackie O'Neal secured a job with Radio Free Europe and moved the family to Munich, Germany, where Ryan graduated from Munich American High School in 1959.
O'Neal appeared in guest roles on series that included The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Bachelor Father, Leave It to Beaver, Westinghouse Playhouse and Wagon Train. In 1961, he and Leonard Nimoy guest starred in the episode "Doctor's Orders" on the syndicated western series Two Faces West. In 1962–1963, O'Neal was a regular on NBC's Empire, another western. He played 21-year-old rancher's son Tal Garrett. On October 3, 1962, a week after the premiere of Empire, O'Neal guest starred in the premiere episode of the ABC's Our Man Higgins, starring Stanley Holloway. O'Neal gained enormous popularity from 1964–1966 on the hit prime time ABC soap opera Peyton Place (with fellow newcomer Mia Farrow).