Oscar-winning actress Tatum O'neal has been arrested in New York after allegedly buying crack cocaine.

The 44-year-old was seen purchasing the drug from a dealer in the Lower East Side district of the city at around 19:30 local time (02:30 BST), police said.

She has been given a misdemeanour charge of criminal possession of a controlled substance and will be arraigned at court on Monday.

The suspected dealer, named as Alan Garcia, 33, was also arrested and thought to have spent the night in custody.

It is alleged that O'Neal asked approaching police officers: "Do you know who I am?"

She is then said to have claimed: "I'm researching a part - I'm doing this for a part as a junkie," according to the New York Post newspaper.

O'Neal, who won an best supporting actress Oscar when she was only ten for her role in 1973's Paper Moon, chroncicled her battles with substance abuse in her memoir A Paper Life.

The former wife of John McEnroe had claimed that addiction was in her DNA as her mother, the late actress Joanna Moore, was an amphetamine-abusing alcoholic.

Though O'Neal, daughter of actor Ryan O'Neal, had seen her career in tatters after completing a rehab course in 1996, she had recently made a comeback of sorts, starring in TV series Rescue Me.

02/06/2008 11:23:35