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What Happened to Ali MacGraw? Find Out What the ‘Love Story’ Star and ’70s It Girl Has Been Up to in Recent Years

She hasn't acted since the '90s


As the star of the 1970 blockbuster romance Love Story, Ali MacGraw became one of the most popular actresses of the era. While Love Story has often been parodied for its over-the-top melodrama (who can forget the line “Love means never having to say you’re sorry,” or the image of the actress on her deathbed while still looking gorgeous and perfectly put together?) its iconic status is undeniable, and it catapulted MacGraw to the A-list.

Here’s a look at how she got her start, and what she’s been up to since leaving the film industry in the ’90s.

A newcomer at age 30

Born Elizabeth Alice MacGraw in 1939, Ali MacGraw had a somewhat unusual career path, as unlike most actresses at the time, who started out in the teens or early 20s, she was already 30 when she made her film debut in the 1969 adaptation of the novel Goodbye, Columbus.

Before she started acting, MacGraw worked at Harper’s Bazaar in the early ’60s, assisting the legendary writer and editor Diana Vreeland. Her striking looks, with long brunette hair, dark brows and soulful eyes, led her to work as a fashion model. She then began appearing in commercials, and from there she was cast in her first film.

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Ali MacGraw in 1965
Ali MacGraw during her model days (1965)David Attie/Getty

Reflecting on her career in a recent New York Times feature, the actress, now 85, said, “Looking back, it seems so strange that — overnight, at 30 — I became a ‘movie star.’ I’m relieved I got out of that often exciting, often terrifying decade alive. I’d been working since I was 14, but I hadn’t gone to school for acting. I was chosen to be in Goodbye, Columbus, and then everything exploded with the stupefying surprise of Love Story — this cost-nothing project nobody expected to be a success.”

Ali MacGraw in 'Goodbye Columbus' 1969
Ali MacGraw in Goodbye, Columbus (1969)Paramount Pictures/Getty

Becoming a movie star

After Goodbye, Columbus, MacGraw starred as the wealthy Ryan O’Neal‘s working class love interest in Love Story. The 1970 film became one of the top-grossing movies of all time, thanks in large part to the chemistry between the charismatic pair.

MacGraw still marvels at the wild success of Love Story 50 years later, and in a 2021 Hollywood Reporter interview, she said, “It made us movie stars. It’s so odd to say that, but it’s what happened.”

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Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal in 'Love Story' 1970
Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal in Love Story (1970)Paramount Pictures/Courtesy of Getty

After Love Story, MacGraw starred opposite Steve McQueen in the 1972 thriller The Getaway. She and McQueen married the next year (she had previously been married to the infamous bigwig producer Robert Evans from 1969 to 1973), and they became one of the Hollywood’s power couples until their divorce in 1978. She never remarried.

In the Hollywood Reporter interview, MacGraw claimed The Getaway was the last movie she was proud of, saying, “I thought it was quite astounding that I had those three consecutive movies [Goodbye, ColumbusLove StoryThe Getaway] before I really stopped doing anything particularly good.”

Steve McQueen and Ali McGraw in a scene from the 1972 movie "The Getaway."
Ali MacGraw and Steve McQueen in The Getaway (1972)Bettmann/Getty

MacGraw appeared in just two more films in the ’70s, the 1978 comedy Convoy, which starred Kris Kristofferson and was based on the hit novelty song of the same name, and Players, a 1979 tennis-themed romance which flopped at the box office.

American actors Kris Kristofferson and Ali MacGraw in a promotional portrait for 'Convoy', directed by Sam Peckinpah, 1978
Ali MacGraw and Kris Kristofferson in Convoy (1978)Silver Screen Collection/Getty

Later Ali MacGraw roles

In the ’80s, MacGraw moved into TV roles, with the miniseries The Winds of War and the TV movie China Rose, both in 1983. In 1985, she had a 13-episode run on the glitzy primetime soap Dynasty. MacGraw bluntly told the Wall Street Journal, “One or two things I did for the money, Dynasty would be one of them; I definitely did that for the money.”

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The actress in 'Dynasty' 1985
Ali MacGraw in Dynasty (1985)Nik Wheeler/Corbis via Getty

After Dynasty, MacGraw acted in the 1985 movie Murder Elite, and appeared in two TV movies, Survive the Savage Sea and Gunsmoke: The Long Ride, in the early ’90s. She then appeared in the 1994 film Natural Causes.

In 1997, she made her final onscreen appearance in Glam, a film directed by her son, Josh Evans.

The actress in 1982
Ali MacGraw in 1982Harry Langdon/Getty

What Ali MacGraw is up to today

So, what has MacGraw been up to ever since she stopped acting? She couldn’t be further from the hustle and bustle of the film industry, and has been living a quiet life in New Mexico for decades.

Looking back on her journey in the film world, she said, “It’s brutal for women. I don’t think there’s a woman over 40 who’s ever been conspicuously in the spotlight who doesn’t get sick of the kind of questioning the media lays on you, the fashion industry, all of it. It’s cruel.”

The actress in 2019
Ali MacGraw in 2019Julien M. Hekimian/Getty

In New Mexico, MacGraw is blisfully removed from these issues, and she finds joy in being involved with her local community and campaigning for causes like education and animal rights.

As she summed it up in her New York Times interview, “I’m grateful I had all that, but I live a very different life now. I don’t care at all about being seen in the latest piece of clothing or knowing the latest song. I don’t feel diminished by not knowing those things. I did it all and was looked at, and that was for another time.”

While Ali MacGraw will forever be known as the girl from Love Story, we’re glad to know she’s found peace outside of Hollywood.

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