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The Life

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"I want to thank my director and my father." This was the acceptance speech from eight-year-old Tatum O'Neal, the youngest Oscar winner in history. Such professional words for such a little girl. Sadly, in her new autobiography, we see just how much Tatum's young life mirrored that of Addie, her character in Paper Moon, the world-weary, clever little con-girl (a comparison not lost on the author).

You would think that winning the highest accolade an actor can aspire to would have made life wonderful for a little girl. But as Tatum details, life was anything but. Apparently, after her Oscar win, her father, actor Ryan O'Neal --- who was her co-star in the movie --- slugged her. And after The Bad News Bears was a runaway hit, he slugged her again. Par for the course of this rocky family relationship. Tatum dealt with abandonment, drug abuse, molestation, and physical and verbal abuse. And the cycle seemed to repeat itself during her tumultuous six-year marriage to tennis great John McEnroe. The loneliness and worthlessness she felt her entire life made her succumb to what she refers to as the "O'Neal curse" --- drug addiction.

Tatum was born in 1963 in southern California to two young actors: fresh-faced Ryan O'Neal, then a heartthrob on TV's "Peyton Place," and Georgia-born Joanna Moore, who, along with most of the O'Neals, battled with alcohol and pills her entire life. In addition to a tempestuous relationship with her volatile father, Tatum talks about her difficult, strained relationship with her mother, who was usually passed out from a combination of pills and alcohol, leaving young Tatum alone with many of her mother's shady boyfriends, one of whom molested her.

After her success with Paper Moon, the challenges with both parents only grew harder. Instead of a young preteen playing with Barbies, she was her father's escort to parties at the Playboy mansion. On a trip to Europe, young Tatum, desperate for a mother figure, brings along friend Melanie Griffith for company. When she can't find Melanie in their hotel room, she goes to her father's suite, where she discovers her 18-year-old friend having sex with Ryan. Being around such scenes made it easy for



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