FILM glamour boy Ryan O'Neal has found a new love - singer and song writer Joni Mitchell. And his tempestuous 13-year-old daughter Tatum approves.
The only problem now is whether the trio will live in Ryan's home on the beach or in Joni's hacienda in lavish Bel Air.
They're holding off a decision until Joni returns from her current singing tour.
Veteran of involvements with such show business beauties as Barbra Streisand, Ursula Andress and Anouk Aimee, Ryan says he's still dazed after six months with Joni.
"I met her at a party at Jack Nicholson's and we spent every day of the next month together," Ryan said.
"I had heard her sing and seen pictures of her, but I'd no idea I'd react to her like I did when we finally met. I didn't want to let her out of my sight.
"We did things together I hadn't done in years - simple things, like walking on the beach, reading, eating at out-of-the-way restaurants, listening to music, and even roller skating.
"Joni is not just a pop singer. Her taste goes way beyond - and so does mine. Through her, I even got a different sense of my own house from her being in it.
"And most important, she and Tatum got along."
Their idyllic existence ended, he said, when she went off on a singing tour.
"We saw so much of each other initially because I wasn't doing a movie and she wasn't working," Ryan said.
"I didn't want to see anyone else - just Tatum and Joni. When it came time to get back into the real world, it was difficult."
Friends say the close friendship was suspended for the time being when Joni refused to move out of her low-slung Spanish-style house in Bel Air - and in with Ryan.
"I took one look at it and knew it would be hard to get her out of it," said Ryan.
"But my place on the beach at Malibu is comfortable, and it's mine. I'm not moving."
The couple were often seen jogging on the Malibu sands in the early morning.
Joni said: "Before I met Ryan I had heard he was just a playboy and irresponsible. But now I've found that's not the case at all.
"He's warm and sensitive and I love being with him. I love him, too.
"I want to try and work it out, but it's difficult. I really did enjoy being with Tatum. Both of us are Scorpios and we immediately understood each other.
"We didn't have to play mind games at all - even between grown-up and child.
"Besides, we love the same man. It really kept us close together."
Ryan admitted his daughter was taking the separation from Joni hard.
"But I've told her it's not over. She told me I was stupid if it was," Ryan said. "Joni was the first woman I've been with since we filmed Paper Moon that Tatum has really enjoyed.
"They did a lot of things together - shopping, cooking and things like that. They had a great time.
"I know Tatum is sometimes not easy to get along with but Joni was doing a good job of it."
Another problem besides the house situation, Ryan said, is Joni's career.
"I love her singing but her touring takes her away from me. And I like my woman to be with me," he said.
He admitted: "I don't like living alone. My house is big enough for three people. I hope the third will be Joni.
"She's got her own career and I love her for it. I don't want her to give it up.
"But I don't know how it would fit into my life - I'm selfish.
"The problem is, how am I going to live without her?"
Ryan has been married to two actresses, Joanna Moore and Leigh-Taylor Young.
He and Tatum are currently appearing in Nickelodeon, the first film in which they have co-starred since Paper Moon.
Printed from the official Joni Mitchell website. Permanent link: http://jonimitchell.com/library/view.cfm?id=3828
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