Tatum O'Neal Arrested For Buying Cocaine

NEW YORK (AP) -- Tatum O'Neal swore she was done with drugs.

The Oscar-winning former child actress proclaimed she was sober as she promoted her 2004 tell-all memoir, cobbled her acting career back together and even offered advice to misbehaving pop star Britney Spears.

O'Neal's arrest Sunday on charges of buying cocaine in her gritty-chic downtown Manhattan neighborhood suggests her struggle with addiction may not be over.

O'Neal, 44, looked tired and said nothing as she was arraigned Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court on a misdemeanor charge of possession of a controlled substance. The daughter of screen star Ryan O'Neal entered no plea and was released without bail until a July 28 court date.

Prosecutors are recommending drug treatment for the actress, who detailed her dependency on heroin and cocaine in her best-selling memoir, "A Paper Life."

Her lawyer, Robert Marinelli, declined to comment Monday. Her manager and publicist did not immediately return telephone calls after her court appearance, while her agent's office referred calls to her publicist.

The arrest was another low point in a life that has included many. Her childhood, she has said, was a Hollywood horror show. Then came years of drug abuse, public feuding with her father and a searing child custody fight with her ex-husband, tennis star John McEnroe. Her acting career vaporized.

But a determined O'Neal rebuilt it in recent years, telling The New York Times last year that she called and e-mailed her agent daily and accepted every role offered. She appeared in independent films, played guest roles on such shows as "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and "8 Simple Rules ... for Dating My Teenage Daughter" and took a spin on "Dancing with the Stars."

Her efforts solidified into a recurring role as hard-drinking Maggie Gavin in the FX cable channel's television drama "Rescue Me." The show is now in production for its fifth and sixth seasons.

Show producer Sony Pictures Television said the actress has shot one episode for the upcoming season and is scheduled to appear in several more, but Sony Pictures declined to comment further.

Police found two bags of cocaine in O'Neal's right front pants pocket when she was arrested about 7:30 p.m. Sunday on the rundown-turned-trendy Lower East Side, according to a court complaint. Officers saw O'Neal accept the drug from a man during a routine drug sweep, police said. Initial reports suggested she had bought crack, but police later said it was powder cocaine.

At age 10, O'Neal won an Academy Award for best supporting actress for 1973's "Paper Moon," becoming the youngest person ever to win an Oscar. Three years later, her $350,000 paycheck for "The Bad News Bears" made her Hollywood's highest-paid child star.

But behind the scenes, O'Neal's life was a drama of neglect, dysfunction and debauchery, according to her memoir.

She described her mother, the late actress Joanna Moore, as a pill-popping mess and claimed her "Love Story" star father slugged her out of jealousy when she won her Oscar; he denounced the book as "malicious lies" and "clouded memories."

In May 2007, prosecutors declined to charge Ryan O'Neal for firing what the actor called a warning shot during a brawl with his son. O'Neal contended he fired the shot in self-defense after his son, Griffin, attacked him with a fireplace poker during an argument at the actor's Malibu home.

In 1983, police were called to their home after a fight in which Ryan O'Neal knocked out two of his son's teeth, the Los Angeles Times reported. No charges were filed.

Griffin O'Neal was convicted of reckless boating in a 1986 accident that killed the son of film director Francis Ford Coppola.

Meanwhile, an adolescent Tatum was drawn into an opium-heightened orgy at age 12, according to her book.

Her 1986 marriage to McEnroe was little healthier, according to both. He wrote in his 2002 autobiography, "You Cannot Be Serious," that the two were high during their first night together. She wrote that the famously temperamental tennis great physically abused her, which he denied, saying he was "very disappointed in Tatum's interpretation of my life and the lives of our children."

The two split in the early 1990s. As her drug problems deepened, O'Neal lost custody of their three children.

She saw echoes of her story in Spears' misfortunes last year, when the singer was ordered temporarily to surrender custody of her two young children after she engaged in a spate of odd antics. O'Neal told "Entertainment Tonight" that Spears needed to seek addiction treatment, as she had.

Her own addictions, she has repeatedly said, are behind her.

"For years I could hardly look people in the eye," she wrote in her memoir. "Now that I've burned away the painful debris of my life, I feel courageous and open."


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