A Love Story with Ali MacGraw

Last night at a party,I was talking with a few women who were critical of Ali MacGraw’s recent appearance on Oprah—she had gone “natural”; didn’t make an effort to doll up with clothes, hair and makeup; could use “some work.”

I didn’t see the show but happened to have it on TiVo so I was curious to watch, almost apprehensive.

Like everyone else of my era, I saw Love Story and fell in love.  Not with the movie, or the book, or Ryan O’Neal—but with Ali MacGraw.  Not only did she personify beauty and class with her own unique style—she was also smart, a Wellesley girl in real life.

In pictures I’ve seen of her since, she’s remained beautiful, artistic, original.   Though she has disappeared from the public eye, it was hard for me imagine she had let herself go.

She walked out onto Oprah’s set, and I tried to see what these other women had seen.  But all I saw is what Ryan O’Neal , also on the show,  seemed to see—- a gorgeous, gracious, still stunning woman of her age, which she freely admits is 71.

In fairness, I could understand why some people might have been surprised.  Though she looks like an older version of her gorgeous self—she does look different— at least different from what we expect of movie stars.  Her neck is lined, her skin isn’t stretched tight; her lips aren’t puffy.   You can get why she moved away from the Hollywood spotlight.

It’s not easy for an “it girl” to grow up and morph into a real woman; to age in an industry whose standards pressure its stars to practice the impossible art of perfection.

She discussed those issues openly and honestly—another change from her peers.  She seems comfortable in her skin, whether or not it’s wrinkled.  She seems at peace with her life, free to be herself.    I think age becomes her—and she’s more an icon of beauty than ever.

She also admitted she never understood her most famous line; so maybe she’d agree with this version: Love Age means never having to say you’re sorry.

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  1. says

    OMG — the woman is 72 years old and looks FABULOUS. I was amazed to find out her age when I saw the show. People’s expectations are so out of line. If people are critical of how this beautiful woman looks, no wonder the rest of us normal people feel so insecure our own aging process. I had a significant birthday a few weeks ago — the one where everyone says you learn to accept yourself for who you are, warts and all. I didn’t believe it would happen for me, but I’m starting to believe it now. Seriously, are we all really supposed to look like teenagers for our entire lives. I didn’t love being a teenager, but I intend to at least try to love being whatever age I am for the rest of my life. And I sure hope when I’m 72 that I look as good as Ali McGraw does now, because I know I don’t look that good at 50.

  2. says

    I’m with you, Darryle. Ali hasn’t “gone natural,” she was always natural. I agree, she’s more an icon of beauty than ever. For goodness sakes, SHE”S 71!! We should all hope to have her gorgeous stature and grace at 71! I love that she is confident enough in herself that she doesn’t need to doll herself up and live the Hollywood life. I prefer role models like Ali MacGraw and Carole King, especially for my daughter to see… not the fake, shallow Barbie dolls of Hollywood.

  3. says

    I so admire her because she didn’t get caught up in the ever constant youth culture of Hollywood and stayed real and true to who she is as a woman. I admire her honesty in the face of a world that is caught up in a lie – one that is a great example for us all.

    I saw a part of this interview and I’m glad I found your post on this extraordinary woman.

  4. says

    How did we get to this point that the relentless pressure to look young persists even into your seventies? I’m no expert but guess these are self esteem issues that start when we’re young and are really hard to let go. AS we age I don’t think we stop caring about how we look–but life is short and at some point it’s so much easier to go with the flow rather than fight it. I always envied women who aren’t caught up in caring about their looks–and the older I get I realize I’m becoming one of them.

  5. says

    THank you; I’m glad you found it too. If you didn’t see the earlier part of her interview, she told Oprah she did get caught up in the youth culture of Hollywood– And she definitely felt humbled when she got older and was no longer the “it’ girl. I only hope lots of young women heard what she said about being so self-absorbed—and hope they learned from what SHE”S learned in order to become who she is now.

  6. Steve says

    Ali McGraw is timeless. I had no idea, until I saw this story, that she was 71. She’s definitely aged much more gracefully than Ryan O’Neal.

  7. Kelly Shoemaker says

    I agree with all of you…at 60, I wouldn’t know where to begin anyway. However, not having seen the show, and only judging by the photo here, I think Ali looks the SAME, doesn’t she? Her hair appears parted in the middle and it’s still that rich deep brown—which captures the way we remember her. Is she still holding on in SOME way?

  8. says

    If you didn’t see any closeups, she looks exactly the same; she even dresses the way she always has and says she has worn the same clothes for decades, just adding different necklaces. Then again, she was a class act to start with.

  9. Leah Serdoner says

    What makes Ali Macgraw a true beauty is that her Beauty shines from the inside as well as the outside.To me she out shines the stars of today who continually try to fight the aging process.She has let nature tell her who she should be and not the nearest plastic surgeon I think we all could learn a lesson are two from her.
    Love story remains my favorite movie of all time..

  10. nana says


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