Who did Ryan O'Neal play in Bones? Character explored as Academy Award nominee dies aged 82

Actor Ryan O
Actor Ryan O'Neal died at the age of 82 (Image via IMDb/X/@NotHoodlum)

Actor Ryan O'Neal, the iconic Hollywood star of the 1970s, passed away on Friday, December 8, at the age of 82. He appeared in successful movies like Love Story. He is also known for his recurring role in the Fox TV series, Bones, where he portrayed Max Keenan, the main character's father. The show ran from 2005 to 2017.

Patrick O'Neal, the actor’s son, revealed the news of the latter's passing on Instagram. The caption to the post read:

"My dad passed away peacefully today, with his loving team by his side supporting him.”

O'Neal was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and chronic leukemia in 2001. However, his family has not yet disclosed how he died.

Ryan O'Neal's character in Bones had an alias named Matthew Brennan

Actor Ryan O'Neal worked in many movies throughout his career (Image via X / @RaquelStecher)
Actor Ryan O'Neal worked in many movies throughout his career (Image via X / @RaquelStecher)

Actor Ryan O'Neal, who recently died at the age of 82, played Max, the father of Temperance and Russ Brennan in Bones. Max and his spouse were criminals who collaborated with ruthless bank robbers. To protect their family, he assumed the persona of a deceased man named Matthew Brennan and altered their names.

He was a science instructor under the name Matthew Brennan, and his spouse was a bookkeeper.

In the series, he is portrayed as a very vigilant father who would do whatever it takes to keep his kids safe. This eventually caused friction between Temperance Brennan and his wife, Seeley Joseph Booth. In spite of this, Max was supportive of their relationship from the beginning, even before Brennan and Booth admitted to being in love.


It is later revealed that he and his spouse were career criminals who committed numerous crimes before going into hiding. It subsequently came to light that threats from Marvin Barlow, a dangerous fugitive, were the catalyst for their illegal activities.

Max and his wife, Ruth, were also robbers. Not only did they steal money, but they also seized material prepared by Augustus Harper against the FBI from the Ohio First Savings and Loan deposit box.

Later, to shield their children from the dangerous bank robbers they worked with, Ruth and Max changed their names when their children were 7 and 3 years old, respectively.


Ryan O'Neal's Max is shown to be a charming, compassionate man in Bones, who is incredibly caring and affectionate towards his children, despite his past misdeeds. As long as he acts for what he believes to be the right reasons, Max can commit any crime, including murder. However, Booth has admitted that Max has never killed someone who did not deserve to die.

Apart from Bones, Ryan O'Neal also worked in several other projects

Ryan O'Neal’s big break in the entertainment industry came in 1964, when he was cast as Rodney Harrington in the popular ABC prime-time soap series, Peyton Place.


He went from television soap operas to movie success in the heartwarming Love Story, for which he even received an Oscar nomination for best actor. He played a wealthy Harvard undergraduate in the film. His character eventually develops feelings for a working-class student, played by Ali MacGraw.

According to the BBC, the American Film Institute rates the film as one of the 10 most romantic films ever made. He later starred with Barbra Streisand in the screwball comedy, What's Up, Doc?, in 1972. In 1979, he reprised his role with her in The Main Event. Apart from Love Story, he has also acted in films like Paper Moon and A Bridge Too Far.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal