TATUM O'NEAL SITS DOWN FOR A CANDID INTERVIEW WITH NBC'S STONE PHILLIPS ON 'DATELINE NBC,' FRIDAY, OCTOBER 15
Legendary Child Actress Reveals Intimate Details About Her Abusive Childhood, Suicide Attempts, Battle with Drug Addiction, and Her Long Road to Recovery
NEW YORK -� October 13, 2004 �- Tatum O'Neal reveals a life story that is shocking even by Hollywood standards in a remarkably candid interview with "Dateline NBC's," Stone Phillips on Friday October 15 (8:00 PM, ET). She tells Phillips about her abusive childhood, her failed marriage, her self-destructive drug abuse and long road to recovery - all the subject of her newly released book, "A Paper Life."
O'Neal says her early childhood was marked by episodes of severe neglect by her mother. "My mother stayed drunk for years and years." Under her mother's care, she tells Phillips she lived in squalor and was molested by strange men. "When parents are off getting drunk or getting high or taking pills in another room, and leaving little children with people who don't watch their kids, this is what happens."
When her mother could no longer care for her, she went to live with her father, actor Ryan O'Neal. She co-starred with her father in "Paper Moon," and at the age of 10, she became the youngest Academy award winner in history. She tells Phillips that winning the Oscar "destroyed" her relationship with her father who she says became resentful and physically abusive. "There was always a slugging thing...Or a backhand or a throwing out of the car or whatever. It was rough, just rough around the house."
But it was her 1993 divorce from tennis star John McEnroe that sent her into a decade-long struggle with drug abuse, culminating in a heroin addiction that cost her the custody of her three children. O'Neal tells Phillips it was the damage of her childhood that led her to self-destructive behavior as an adult. "When you're treated badly, at least in my situation, I just didn't know any better then, when someone was hitting me or slapping me, or like sexually molesting me. Just seemed normal to do that to myself."
Finally clean, O'Neal shares with Phillips that her book is a "chance to say, you know, things don't just happen by accident. One doesn't just fall off the edge of the cliff for nothing."
In statements to "Dateline NBC," both Ryan O'Neal and John McEnroe generally dispute Tatum's depiction of her past. David Corvo is the executive producer of the broadcast.