No Hard Feelings

updated 04/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/14/2003 AT 01:00 AM EDT

As Farrah Fawcett sauntered down the red carpet at the Oscars in a star-spangled dress on March 23, her support for the troops in Iraq was clear. But on the dance floor at the Vanity Fair party at Morton's a few hours later, she made a different display of unity with, of all people, ex-beau Ryan O'Neal. Talking, laughing and disco dancing, Fawcett, 55, and O'Neal, 61, excited the tabloids, which speculated that they planned to marry. No way, says her rep: "They're just friends, close friends."

Which is a lot more than they were when they parted company in 1997 after 17 years together amid accusations of physical brawls, cheating and disputes over how to raise their sometimes troubled son Redmond, now 18. But time, friends say, has tempered them both. After a volatile romance with director James Orr ended badly in 1998 (he was convicted of battery against her), Fawcett focused on her artwork. And after the notoriously hot-tempered O'Neal was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, he focused on healing his body. Today, says his rep, "he is healthy," thanks to the much-touted drug Gleevec. It seems they have both long since healed their troubled relationship. O'Neal and Fawcett stay in shape by playing friendly games of tennis with each other. And many Saturdays, they get together for some weight-lifting at Pro Gym in Brentwood, says John Whitesell, who directed O'Neal in the comedy Malibu's Most Wanted, due April 18. No telling whether the friendship will blossom, once again, into romance. But at the moment, says Whitesell, "they're both having a good time."

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