Who knew that the actor Ryan O'Neal once sent a gossip columnist a live tarantula in the post?

Share

Who knew that the actor Ryan O'Neal, one of the baddest boys in Hollywood history, once sent a gossip columnist a live tarantula in the post? Rona Barrett, a later version of Hedda Hopper known to Frank Sinatra as "Rona Rat" (a compliment, presumably, from the leader of the Rat Pack), recalls receiving a curious package in 1969, shortly after Peyton Place finished on television and the year before Love Story.

"It seemed weird that it had no return address," the 76-year-old fondly remembers. The mystery was solved a few weeks later when a friend of hers met O'Neal at a party, and reported him "talking about this tarantula in a tennis-ball can. He says he hasn't seen you on TV, and he thinks he killed you!"

Exactly what Rona revealed to displease him is lost in the mists of time, though given the former boxer's spectacular record as brawler, seducer and drunk there was never a shortage of deadly spider-inducing material.

Since his daughter Tatum was six at the time, her offending report might have concerned how Ursula Andress, such a stickler for bedroom etiquette, complained: "I don't want to sleep with you while your daughter is in the bed."

However, the postal tarantula came early enough in his life to rule out the inciting incident having been O'Neal being discovered in bed with a young actress by Farah Fawcett, his common-law wife of 30 years, on Valentine's Day; firing what he described as a "warning shot" at his druggy son Griffin, in what he claimed was self defence; and, perhaps most impressive of all in a fiercely crowded field, hitting on the grown-up Tatum at the funeral of Fawcett, who had the miserable timing to die from cancer in 2009, a few hours before Michael Jackson left this world.

"I had just put the casket in the hearse," explains O'Neal, recently diagnosed with prostate cancer himself, "and I was watching it drive away when a beautiful blonde woman comes up and embraces me. I said to her, 'You have a drink on you? You have a car?' She said, 'Daddy, it's me. Tatum!' I was just trying to be funny with a strange Swedish woman, and it's my daughter. It's so sick."

He is much too hard on himself. It's the kind of comic misunderstanding that could happen to anyone. Besides, love is never having to say you're sorry for trying to pull your first-born at your missus's interment.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific