American actress Joanna Moore is the mother of Academy Award-winning actress Tatum O'Neal. Joanna Moore divorced her husband, Ryan O'Neal while Tatum was still young. Tatum grew up in the separate homes of both Joanna Moore and Ryan O'Neal. Tatum later described both homes as extremely dysfunctional. While Tatum was young, Joanna was despondent over the declining status of her own acting career. Joanna had a severe long-term problem with alcoholism and was for the most part a neglectful mother.
Some time after Joanna Moore divorced from Ryan O'Neal, she re-married and became deeply involved in an evangelical Protestant denomination, apparently the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
From: Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life (autobiography), HarperCollins Publishers: New York (2004), pages 10-11:
My mother [Tatum O'Neal's mother, actress Joanna Moore] was born... in the heart of the Great Depression... in Americus, Georgia... She was the only one [in her family] not in the car when her father swerved off the road because her mom fell asleep on his shoulder, plunging down a sandy embankment into a ravine. Both her mother and her baby sister, Virginia, died instantly... Henry, my mother's father, was badly hurt but lingered for a year before dying of a ruptured spleen--or, she always believed, of a broken heart. So, at age six, my mother became an orphan.
For a time she was farmed out to live with her maternal grandmother, who was confined to a wheelchair with an osteoporosis-like condition. She was also addicted to morphine, prescribed by the town doctor, making her the first known link in my family's chain of drug dependence.
Even in that environment, my mother managed to bloom. She was pretty and vivacious, with a million-dollar smile, and so talented at singing and playing that she became a star at church.
Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, pages 14:
Patrick Ryan O'Neal, their oldest son, was born on April 20, 1941... He entered show business as a stuntman but quickly broke into acting... making his film debut in This Rugged Land with Charles Bronson in 1962.
It was around this time that my parents [Patrick O'Neal and Joanna Moore] connected in what must have been an explosive encounter. "She was pregnant within days of our meeting," my father told Newsweek, "and we were married within weeks."
Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, pages 15:
When I was born, my father was twenty-two, and my mother was nearly seven years older... My mother hit the age wall before she turned thirty. By then everything about her was glossy: her ever-present wigs, fake eyelashes and nails; her surgically taut face, and the gleaming caps on her teeth that were never tight enough.
Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, pages 17:
My mom's career started fading when my dad's was on the rise, with his lead role as Rodney Harrington on Peyton Place, TV's first prime-time soap opera...
My father's romantic life was also spilling off the TV screen. The tabloids had a field day linking him to a parde of starlets. He would describe his marriage in this period as "desolate." Very likely my mother's drinking and drug use--probably in secret--played a role. As their fighting escalated, my father grew physically violent.
Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, pages 25-26:
My mom [Joanna Moore] had a fifteen-year-old boyfriend--I'll call him "Seth"--with long, stringy hair and tatoos on the biceps... Early on, Griffin [Tatum's brother] and I discovered his cruel streak... Seth threw [our pet rats] in a pond and made us watch them drown. Since rats can swim, it took a very long time, and it completely freaked us out.
I grieved for days. It was one of the few times at the ranch when I remember my mother reacting to my distress, which must have been too profound to ignore. "Are you okay?" she kept asking me. All I could do was sob, "Why did he have to kill them, Mommy?" I felt that I would never stop crying.
Most of the time, my mother was either closed up in her room--sitting for days, writing to Jesus--or else drinking and partying with Seth and his relatives or an older couple... My mother wasn't just boozing, however. Griffin recalls finding white-flecked syringes around the house, evidence that her addition was escalating...
Griffin and I were neglected on Sabana Lane, but at least there we had comfortable surroundings and babysitters. Now that we were stuck in the middle of nowhere [living with their mother], isolated, with no backup support for miles, we were virtually abandoned and--at just five and six years old--left to survive on our own. Our meals were erratic, basically consisting of fast food, along with whatever we could scrounge. I was so hungry that I ate raw bacon and, once, a whole tub of Cool Whip, which made me sick. Worst of all was the can of olives I started in on before I realized it was crawling with maggots... Griffin and I grew scrawny, and my teeth ached with cavities...
Tatum O'Neal's mother Joanna Moore apparently joined the pentecostal denomination known as the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel after divorcing Tatum's father. In the passage below, Tatum recalls her mother speaking in tongues (a key distinctive characteristic of Pentecostal denominations generally and the Foursquare Gospel church specifically). She recalls how her brother attended Bible study classes at Pat Boone's house. Pat Boone was an active member of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel since the 1970s or before. From: Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, pages 85-86:
...as turbulent and frightening as life with my father could be, he was the devil I knew. My mother was more of a mystery. I visited her occasionally on Bolas Street in West L.A.--not a very good neighborhood--and observed what she'd do and wear and even eat, weird country combinations like apples with salt and cheese or salted grapefruit and watermelon. She and Gary, her husband, who was a roofing contractor, were members of an evangelistic religious sect. Griffen had to go to Bible study classes at Pat Boone's house. Once, around the time of Paper Moon, I got a serious blast of her religion when she started speaking in tongues and beating the hell out of me.
...the main problem was my mother's alcoholism. She was constantly drunk--Gary left her because of it--and poor Griffin was losing his mind.
In 1978, Tatum O'Neal was badly injured in a car accident; her friend Carrie had been driving and lost control of the car of the Ventura Freeway. She had to remain in the hospital for a long time. From Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, pages 116-117:
My mother showed up once... She wasn't capable of comfort or support. My grandmother took the position that I'd gotten what I deserved for calling attention to my lack of parental supervision and embarrassing my family.
Tatum O'Neal, A Paper Life, page 225:
[After Tatum separated from her husband, John McEnroe] I moved into John's old apartment at 200 East End Avenue, for which he charged me $6,000 a month in rent. I paid him with the money I'd saved from my movie work... My mother was horrified at the thought of my leaving John. Her own life had been such a struggle that she urged me to stay married, if only for the money. "For God's sake," I said, "I'm not a high-class whore, Mom."
Webpage created 29 August 2005. Last modified 27 September 2005.
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