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How Ryan O'Neal Reunited with His Daughter Tatum Before His Death After 'Years of Hardship'

The actor — who died on Friday at age 82 — and his daughter were estranged for 20 years at one point

<p>Michael Buckner/Getty </p>  Ryan O

Michael Buckner/Getty

Ryan O'Neal (L) and Tatum O'Neal attend the "Paper Moon" Screening at the Camelot Theatre during the 22nd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival on January 16, 2011 in Palm Springs, California

Ryan O’Neal and his daughter, Tatum O’Neal, repaired their relationship after a 20-year estrangement ahead of the actor’s death on Friday at age 82.

Tatum, 60 — who starred alongside her father in the 1974 movie Paper Moon at the age of 10, and later became the youngest Academy Award winner for her role in the film — had previously documented her challenging relationship with her father in her 2004 biography A Paper Life.

However, following the death of Ryan's partner Farah Fawcett in 2009, the two reconciled, and more recently, a heartwarming photograph posted on Instagram by Tatum's son Sean McEnroe in 2020 showed the family together for the first time in 17 years "after so many years of hardship."

Sean McEnroe/ Instagram Tatum O'Neal and Ryan O'Neal reunite in 2020 in an Instagram photo shared by Tatum's son Sean
Sean McEnroe/ Instagram Tatum O'Neal and Ryan O'Neal reunite in 2020 in an Instagram photo shared by Tatum's son Sean

Related: Ryan O'Neal's 4 Children: All About the Family's Ups and Downs Over the Years

“This is one of the most memorable photos of my life. The last time we were all together was at the 30-year Paper Moon Anniversary in 2003," Sean, now 36, captioned the photo, which showed both Tatum and Ryan smiling alongside Sean and the two other children Tatum shares with ex-husband John McEnroe — son Kevin, now 37, and daughter Emily, now 32.

Sean continued, "I could cry tears of gratitude that everyone in this photo is still alive and that we were all able to come together again after so many years of hardship. The entire West Coast is burning, but if the O’Neals can reconcile, truly anything is possible 🙏🏻☺️💛#Reconciliation #Forgiveness #Wholeness #Love #FAMILY."

Though the father and daughter were estranged from each other for many years, they began their journey toward reconciliation in 2008 after Ryan’s then-partner Fawcett was diagnosed with cancer.

<p>Craig Barritt/WireImage</p> Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal at Raquel Welch

Craig Barritt/WireImage

Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal at Raquel Welch "Beyond The Cleavage" Book Party Hosted By Alana Stewart at Oscar de La Renta Boutique on May 6, 2010 in West Hollywood, California

Related: Ryan O'Neal Posed with His Daughter Tatum O'Neal to Mark 82nd Birthday 7 Months Prior to His Death

Speaking to PEOPLE in 2010, Tatum explained that she had given Ryan’s phone number to her son Sean, as she was concerned about her father’s wellbeing amid Fawcett’s illness. She also reached out to the Charlie’s Angels star herself before her death.

Tatum then said that several months after Fawcett’s death at age 62 in June 2009, she received a call from her father, and the pair arranged to meet.

“It was as if time stood still,” Ryan told PEOPLE at the time. “She’s so happy. This is a different person than I remember.”

“He told me he’s sorry,” Tatum said of the meeting. “He’s all I have in terms of family, and I needed him in my life. My dad was absolutely everything to me.”

Tatum admitted that the death of Fawcett had “played a very big role” in her and her father reuniting.

“She brought us back together,” the actress said at the time, while also revealing that the tragic death had caused her to reflect on her father’s mortality.

<p>Michael Buckner/Getty</p> Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal attend the

Michael Buckner/Getty

Ryan O'Neal and Tatum O'Neal attend the "Paper Moon" Screening at the Camelot Theatre during the 22nd Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival on January 16, 2011 in Palm Springs, California

Related: How Ryan O’Neal Embraced Life While Having Leukemia and Then Prostate Cancer in the Past 20 Years

“God forbid something were to have happened to my dad. I don’t know if I could have lived with myself," she said.

Ryan also reflected at the time on his role as a parent and how his absence may have contributed to Tatum’s struggles in life.

“I might have been able to help her,” he admitted. “She didn’t have anyone after her mother died. She didn’t want me, and she said I abandoned her, and I did. ... A lot of harsh things were done.”

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Back in April, Tatum posted a sweet photograph with her father in celebration of his 82nd birthday.

"Happy birthday dad I love you," she wrote on Instagram alongside a photograph of the two smiling together as they sat on a bed.

Following Ryan's death on Friday — which was announced in an Instagram post by his son, Patrick O'Neal — the actress shared an exclusive statement with PEOPLE, noting her deep love for her father, while acknowledging her gratitude that the two had reconciled.

"I feel great sorrow with my father's passing," she said.

"He meant the world to me. I loved him very much and know he loved me too. I'll miss him forever and I feel very lucky that we ended on such good terms," Tatum added.

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