Love Story stars receive their Hollywood Walk of Fame stars 50 years later

By Liz McNeil
February 12, 2021 03:57 PM
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Credit: Hollywood Walk of Fame

In honor of the 50th anniversary of Love Story, Ryan O'Neal and Ali MacGraw received their stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Friday.

In a cinematic touch, O'Neal's star is next to MacGraw, who played onscreen love Jenny Cavillieri to his Harvard preppy Oliver Barrett IV in 1971's iconic romantic drama Love Story. Nearby is Farrah Fawcett's own star, the actress with whom he had a long and tumultuous love affair before she died in 2009 from cancer at age 62.

"Farrah was spectacular," O'Neal told PEOPLE in a recent interview. "Better than any movie. I miss her so much. I long for her."

O'Neal, 79, who attended the ceremony virtually jokingly said, "What took so long?" before reflecting on what the star meant to him.

"I grew up around Hollywood Boulevard, to tell you the truth. As a high school junior, I used to come to Hollywood Boulevard with my lads and look for fights and girls," he said. "Who would've thought [I would have] a star on the Walk of Fame? I thought I'd end up in jail and look where I am."

O'Neal, who was introduced by his son, Patrick, added, "And I got a son to announce me. I'm very touched. I just saw Ali, and I love seeing her even though she's many states away. So here I am, moved and happy. Thank you, thank you, everyone."

"It's a wonderful gesture and I'm going to come up to HB every once in a while to look at it. And my girls, my dear girls," he added, referring to MacGraw and his late longtime love, Farrah Fawcett. "I'm glad I lived long enough to get my star."

MacGraw, 81, who also attended the ceremony virtually from her home in New Mexico, grew emotional as she saw her son, Josh Evans, introduce her, noting it was "the first time since I've seen my favorite person in the whole world" since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

"I was shy to ask him to do this because he's very, very private," MacGraw said of her son. "This is an astonishing experience for me in every single way. Ryan and I were lucky enough to be in a film that surprised us with the enormity of its success. I have to say that the great joy was that I was lucky enough to work with Ryan on this film. From the second we met it was just wonderful. I have rarely had an experience in my long working life that was as joyful as this."

MacGraw also thanked her late ex-husband, the producer Robert Evans, who helped make the film, saying, "Thank you so much, I know my career is as much your creation as anything, and I love you and I miss you. You made an impact on our industry that's absolutely indescribable. This is mind-boggling to me. Thank you very, very much, I'm just beyond honored."

Credit: REP/IMAGES/Getty

She added, "Happy Valentine's Day, Ryan. It's so wonderful that we had our sons introduce us, that's just layers of happiness. Thank you so, so much to all of you."

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Love Story, now available in a restored Blu-ray version, brings back fond memories for the two stars. "I can't imagine it was 50 years ago," MacGraw recently told PEOPLE. "I've lived so many lives since then as most of us do. And it's stunning because there are plenty of people that still dismiss the movie but it still touches people and that's kind of amazing."

"I was a working actor," said O'Neal, then on the soap opera Peyton Place before he got Love Story . "I had no concept of being somebody who walks into a restaurant and they start playing the theme to Love Story before I get to the table."

Five decades later, both he and MacGraw admit they still can't explain how the film's final line: "Love means never having to say you're sorry" took on a life of it's own.

"I'm still trying t get to the bottom of it, because I've had to say I'm sorry a lot in my life," said O'Neal. "But I have no idea what they were talking about. I just learned the lines."

Of all the excitement around the 50th anniversary, he told PEOPLE, "I was born in Hollywood, and an actor since I was 17 so it's been a long road. It's an honor and I'm proud when I hear the Love Story theme when I walk into a restaurant."

For MacGraw, "The whole experience was just joy," she noted. "That doesn't happen every time."