Ryan O'Neal held after gun is fired in family dispute

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The Independent US

The Hollywood actor Ryan O'Neal appears to have real-life domestic problems to match the lurid plot lines of Peyton Place, the steamy 1960s American soap opera that catapulted him to stardom.

The 65-year-old screen veteran, who won an Oscar nomination for his tear-jerking performance in Love Story, was making the worst kind of headlines yesterday after being arrested in his Malibu home over the weekend following a dispute with his son Griffin O'Neal which allegedly ended with him brandishing a gun and firing a shot.

Police are now confirming gossip that first began to circulate on showbusiness websites that officers and paramedics were dispatched to his home in the early hours of Saturday after the emergency services received a call regarding a family fracas that had got seriously out of hand. " Deputies determined... Griffin O'Neal, his son, had been assaulted by his father," said Lt John Benedict, of Malibu police.

The trouble started after Ryan O'Neal, the actress Farrah Fawcett and some friends returned to his home after a dinner to celebrate her birthday. There is no information on what provoked the confrontation with his son, but Ryan O'Neal was taken to a local police station and charged with assault with a deadly weapon and negligent discharge of a firearm. He was released on $50,000 (£25,000) bail.

At least one bullet was allegedly fired during the altercation. Griffin O'Neal was not hurt but sources said a 22-year-old female friend was " inadvertently" struck and taken to hospital where she was treated and released.

Ryan O'Neal's publicist, Neil Hassman, has painted a scenario in which Griffin O'Neal turned threatening first, "wildly swinging a fireplace poker" at his father. He implied that his client was therefore forced to reach for a gun out of self-defence. "It is unfortunate that what should have been an internal family disagreement was escalated to the point that Ryan felt he had to defend himself from Griffin's aggressive, extremely menacing physical behaviour," said Mr Hassman.

The dinner had been a double celebration for Fawcett, who was given a clean bill of health by her doctors on Thursday after a battle with breast cancer. She was Ryan O'Neal's partner for 15 years. The couple never married but they had one son together, Redmond.

Ryan O'Neal was previously married to Joanna Moore, with whom he had two children, Griffin and a daughter, Tatum. While Tatum launched her own successful career and won a best-supporting actress Oscar starring alongside her father in the 1973 film Paper Moon, Griffin's acting efforts never achieved lift-off.

His problems with the law began in 1986 when he received an 18-day jail sentence and 400 hours of community service after being found guilty of reckless boating following an accident that killed Gian-Carlo Coppola, son of the director Francis Ford Coppola. In 1989, he pleaded guilty to a drink-driving charge and was given probation.