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Ryan ONeal and Tatum ONeal appear in scenes from the 2011 OWN show Ryan and Tatum. / Farrah Fawcett appears in a scene from the 1970s series Charlies Angels. - Provided courtesy of ABC / OWN

Farrah Fawcett's cancer spurred by Ryan O'Neal?

06/21/2011 by Corinne Heller

Ryan O'Neal is wondering if he and his children, including his daughter Tatum, helped spur his partner Farrah Fawcett's cancer, which ultimately led to her death two years ago.

The feather-haired blonde bombshell, known best for her role as a sexy detective on the hit 1970s show "Charlies Angels", died of anal cancer at age 62 on June 25, 2009 - the same day Michael Jackson, Tatum O'Neal's ex-boyfriend, died at age 50.

Fawcett and Ryan O'Neal met in 1979 - 12 years after his divorce from Tatum O'Neal's mother - and dated until 1998, Vanity Fair magazine said in a 2009 article.

The two reconnected in 2001, when he was diagnosed with leukemia, and are parents to a son, Redmond, who is 26.

"What bothers me the most is that there was turmoil during my love affair with Farrah - a lot of it caused by my family, by my kids, all of them, but particularly Tatum," Ryan O'Neal, the 70-year-old star of the 1970 movie "Love Story," said on the CNN show "Piers Morgan Tonight" on Monday, June 20. "And I just think if she had never met us, would she still be alive today? Because nobody knows what causes cancer, do they?"

"She didn't smoke and she didn't drink," the actor added, his voice wavering. "She exercised every day and she believed in good health. And then we came along, the four of us. And gradually she got - she got weaker. I don't know. I think it's highly possible. Because I wasn't able to straighten out the mess that we were in and we sucked her in."

Tatum O'Neal, a 47-year-old former child actress who won an Oscar for her role in the 1973 film "Paper Moon," has not responded. She and her father have both struggled with drug abuse and were estranged for about two decades. They began speaking again regularly after Fawcett's death.

Ryan O'Neal later added: "Maybe it isn't true but it is possible. Sorry, Tatum but you probably know, too," he said. "But it's not Tatum. I was the catalyst. I'm the one who has to keep everybody happy and I wasn't able to do it."

Tatum O'Neal had told Howard Stern on his Sirius XM radio show last week that her father "hurt" Fawcett "really bad." Her father has not commented.

"She was beautiful and she wasn't like him," Tatum O'Neal said. "I feel like she didn't have a chance so I forgive her. She was so nice."

She appeared on Stern's show to promote her OWN docu-series "Ryan & Tatum: The O'Neals," which premiered on Sunday and showcases her attempt to reconnect with her father, and her new book, Found: A Daughter's Journey Home," which was released on June 14.

Tatum O'Neal says in her book that her father forced her and her siblings to play racquetball with Fawcett after she moved in with him. Ryan O'Neal has not verified her story.

The game, she said, "became just another excuse for my father to bully us" and that he once allegedly pushed her to play "so hard against Farrah that I tore some ligaments in my ankle."

"It's truly out of a horror movie," Tatum O'Neal said on Stern's show. "He would stand above us and my brother, or I, would play racquetball with Farrah and he'd scream, 'Get your racquet back!' And I was probably 14 or 15 and it was just a horrendous experience. I hate racquetball. I didn't want to play Farrah Fawcett."

She also told Stern that her father flirted with her at Fawcett's funeral.

"He just saw this blonde hair and he was just like, 'Hey Baby,' and I was like, 'Dad..' and he was like, 'Oh, oh, hey,'" Tatum O'Neal said on the show.

Ryan O'Neal talked about the incident in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2009, after Fawcett's death.

"I had just put the casket in the hearse and I was watching it drive away when a beautiful blonde woman comes up and embraces me," he said. "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."

Check out Ryan O'Neal's interview with Piers Morgan below.

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