Field, Sally 1946–

views updated Jun 27 2018

FIELD, Sally 1946–


Full name, Sally Margaret Field; born November 6, 1946, in Pasadena, CA; daughter of Richard Dryden Field (in sales) and Maggie Field Mahoney (an actress); stepdaughter of Jock Mahoney (a stunt performer and actor); married Steve Craig, September, 1968 (a contractor; divorced, 1975); married Alan Greisman (a film producer and film executive), December, 1984 (divorced, 1994); children: (first marriage) Peter Craig (a novelist), Elijah Craig (an actor); (second marriage) Samuel H. Greisman. Education: Attended Actors Studio, 1968 and 1973–75; studied acting with David Craig.

Addresses: Agent—Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA 90212. Contact—P.O. Box 492417, Los Angeles, CA 90049. Publicist—PMK/HBH Public Relations, 8500 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Beverly Hills, CA 90211.

Career: Actress, producer, director, and writer. Fogwood Films, Ltd., producer, beginning in 1984. Appeared in commercials.

Member: Screen Actors Guild, American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Awards, Honors: Emmy Award, outstanding lead actress in a drama or comedy special, 1976, for "Sybil," The Big Event; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a comedy or musical, 1978, for Smokey and the Bandit; Academy Award, best actress, Golden Globe Award, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, best actress in a dramatic film, New York Film Critics Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award, National Board of Review Award, Cannes International Film Festival, and National Society of Film Critics Award, all best actress, all 1979, and Marquee Award, American Movie awards, best actress, 1980, all for Norma Rae; Star of the Year Award, National Association of Theatre Owners, 1981; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a drama, 1982, for Absence of Malice; Marquee Award, favorite star—female, 1982; People's Choice Award (with Jane Fonda), favorite motion picture actress, 1982; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a comedy or musical, 1983, for Kiss Me Goodbye; Golden Apple Award, Hollywood Women's Press Club, female star of the year, 1984; Academy Award, best actress, and Golden Globe Award, best actress in a dramatic film, both 1984, for Places in the Heart; Crystal Award, Women in Film Crystal awards, 1986; Hasty Pudding Woman of the Year Award, Hasty Pudding Theatricals, Harvard University, 1986; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a comedy or musical, 1986, for Murphy's Romance; Golden Globe Award nomination, best motion picture actress in a drama, 1990, for Steel Magnolias; Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role, Film Award nomination, British Academy of Film and Television awards, outstanding performance by a female actor in a supporting role, and Blimp Award nomination, Kids' Choice awards, favorite movie actress, all 1995, for Forrest Gump; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or a special, and outstanding miniseries, both 1995, Golden Globe Award nomination, best performance by an actress in a miniseries or motion picture made for television, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or miniseries, both 1996, all for A Woman of Independent Means; Berinale Camera, Berlin International Film Festival, 1996; Ruby Award, Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 1999; Emmy Award nomination, outstanding lead actress, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or miniseries, both 2000, for A Cooler Climate; Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a television movie or miniseries, 2001, for David Copperfield; Board of the Governors Award, American Society of Cinematographers, 2001; Emmy Award, outstanding guest actress in a drama series, and Screen Actors Guild Award nomination, outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series, both 2001, and Emmy Award nomination, outstanding guest actress in a drama series, 2003, all for ER; Field's performance as the title character in the film Norma Rae was named one of the one hundred "greatest screen heroes and villains" by American Film Institute.


Film Appearances:

Mercy McBee, The Way West, United Artists, 1967.

Mary Tate Farnsworth, Stay Hungry, United Artists, 1976.

Carol Bell, Heroes, Universal, 1977.

Carrie, Smokey and the Bandit, Universal, 1977.

Gwen Doyle, Hooper, Warner Bros., 1978.

Mary Ellen, The End, United Artists, 1978.

Celeste Whitman, Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, Warner Bros., 1979.

Norma Rae Webster (title role), Norma Rae, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1979.

Carrie, Smokey and the Bandit II (also known as Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again), Universal, 1980.

Amy Post, Back Roads, Warner Bros., 1981.

Megan Carter, Absence of Malice, Columbia, 1981.

Kay Villano, Kiss Me Goodbye, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1982.

Edna Spalding, Places in the Heart, TriStar, 1984.

Emma Moriarty, Murphy's Romance, Columbia, 1985.

Daisy Morgan, Surrender, Warner Bros., 1987.

Lilah Krytsick, Punchline, Columbia, 1988.

M'Lynn Eatenton, Steel Magnolias, TriStar, 1989.

Twisted Justice, 1990.

Betty Mahmoody, Not without My Daughter, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer/Pathe, 1991.

Celeste Talbert/Maggie, Soapdish, Paramount, 1991.

Miranda Hillard, Mrs. Doubtfire, Twentieth Century–Fox, 1993.

Voice of Sassy, Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, Buena Vista, 1993.

Mrs. Gump, Forrest Gump, Paramount, 1994.

Herself, A Century of Cinema (documentary), 1994.

Karen McCann, Eye for an Eye, Paramount, 1996.

Voice of Sassy, Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Buena Vista, 1996.

Mama Lil, Where the Heart Is, Twentieth Century–Fox, 2000.

Valdine Wingfield, Say It Ain't So, Twentieth Century–Fox, 2000.

Representative Victoria Rudd, Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer, 2003.

Anita, Two Weeks, c. 2005.

Herself, Going through Splat: The Life and Work of Stewart Stern (documentary), 2005.

Some sources cite an appearance in Moon Pilot, Buena Vista, 1962.

Film Director:

Beautiful, Destination Films, 2000.

Film Executive Producer:

Murphy's Romance, Columbia, 1985.

The Lost Children of Berlin (documentary), Fogwood Films/Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, 1997.

Film Producer:

Punchline, Columbia, 1988.

Dying Young (also known as Choice of Love), Twentieth Century–Fox, 1991.

Television Appearances; Series:

Frances Elizabeth "Gidget" Lawrence, Gidget, ABC, 1965–66.

Sister Bertrille (Elsie Ethrington), The Flying Nun, ABC, 1967–70.

Sally Burton, The Girl with Something Extra, NBC, 1973–74.

Maggie Wyczenski, ER (also known as Emergency Room), NBC, 2000–2003.

Justice Kate Nolan, The Court, ABC, 2002.

Television Appearances; Miniseries:

Bess Steed Garner, A Woman of Independent Means, NBC, 1995.

Trudy Cooper, From the Earth to the Moon, HBO, 1998.

Aunt Betsey Trotwood, David Copperfield, TNT, 2000.

Television Appearances; Movies:

Denise "Dennie" Miller, Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring (also known as Maybe I'll Be Home in the Spring), ABC, 1971.

Jane Duden, Marriage: Year One, NBC, 1971.

Vicki, Mongo's Back in Town, CBS, 1971.

Christine Morgan, Home for the Holidays (also known as Deadly Desires), ABC, 1972.

Roselle Bridgeman, Hitched (also known as Westward the Wagon), NBC, 1973.

Jennifer Melford, Bridger, ABC, 1976.

Sybil Dorsett (title role), "Sybil," The Big Event, NBC, 1976.

Iris Prue, A Cooler Climate, Showtime, 1999.

Television Appearances; Specials:

Narrator, California Girl (documentary), ABC, 1968.

Beth Barber, Lily for President, CBS, 1982.

The Making of "Absence of Malice" (documentary), 1982.

Herself, Live Aid, multiple networks, 1985.

James Stewart: A Wonderful Life, 1987.

Punchline Party (also known as Sally Field and Tom Hank's "Punchline" Party), HBO, 1988.

The New Hollywood, NBC, 1990.

Host and narrator, Barbara Stanwyck: Fire and Desire, TNT, 1991.

Voices That Care, Fox, 1991.

An American Reunion: The 52nd Presidential Inaugural Gala, CBS, 1993.

Rowan & Martin's "Laugh–In": 25th Anniversary Reunion, NBC, 1993.

Voice of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, A Century of Women (documentary; also known as A Family of Women), TBS, 1994.

All–Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever! (also known as Sesame Street's All–Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever!), ABC, 1994.

Through the Eyes of Forrest Gump (documentary), HBO, 1994.

Inside the Academy Awards, TNT, 1995.

The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful (also known as Popcorn Venus), TBS, 1996.

George Bailey's mother and narrator, Merry Christmas, George Bailey, PBS, 1997.

Host, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movies: Love Crazy, CBS, 1998.

Herself, Paul Newman, 2001.

America: A Tribute to Heroes, multiple networks, 2001.

Ladies' Home Journal's Most Fascinating Women to Watch, 2001.

Herself, AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Heroes and Villains, 2003.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 52nd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1980.

Presenter, The 53rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1981.

American Film Institute Salute to Lillian Gish, 1984.

The 57th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1985.

Presenter, The 58th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, 1986.

American Film Institute Salute to Billy Wilder, 1986.

The 63rd Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1991.

Presenter, The 64th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, 1992.

The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts, 1992.

The 65th Annual Academy Awards Presentation, ABC, 1993.

Presenter, The 67th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 1995.

The American Film Institute Salute to Steven Spielberg, NBC, 1995.

The Sixth Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, 2000.

Presenter, The 53rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, CBS, 2001.

The Seventh Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards, 2001.

Herself, The Third Annual TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV, TV Land, 2005.

Television Appearances; Episodic:

The Dating Game, ABC, 1965.

Nancy Zogerdorfer, "No Talent Scouts," Occasional Wife, NBC, 1966.

The Hollywood Squares, NBC, 1966.

Bonnie Banner, "Big Brother Is Watching You," Hey, Landlord, NBC, 1967.

Bonnie Banner, "A Little Off the Top," Hey, Landlord, NBC, 1967.

Bonnie Banner, "Sharin' Sharon," Hey, Landlord, NBC, 1967.

Bonnie Banner, "Woody, Can You Spare a Sister?," Hey, Landlord, NBC, 1967.

Band contest judge, "Bobby Vee/Real Don Steele," Happening '68 (also known as Happening and It's Happening), ABC, 1968.

Band contest judge, "Etta James/Pat Paulsen/Cowsills," Happening '68 (also known as Happening and It's Happening), ABC, 1968.

Band contest judge, "Strawberry Alarm Clock," Happening '68 (also known as Happening and It's Happening), ABC, 1968.

Rowan & Martin's "Laugh–In" (also known as Laugh–In), NBC, multiple episodes in 1968.

Jenny Hale, "Jenny, Who Bombs Buildings," Bracken's World, NBC, 1970.

Clementine Hale, "Dreadful Sorry Clementine," Alias Smith and Jones, ABC, 1971.

Jan Wilkins and June Wilkins, "I Can Hardly Tell You Apart," Marcus Welby, M.D., ABC, 1971.

Clementine Hale, "The Clementine Incident," Alias Smith and Jones, ABC, 1972.

Irene, "Whisper," Night Gallery, NBC, 1973.

"Sally Field & Bob Crane," $10,000 Pyramid, 1974.

Carol Burnett & Company, ABC, 1979.

Molly Follett, "All the Way Home," NBC Live Theater, NBC, 1981.

Herself, The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1992.

Host, Saturday Night Live (also known as NBC's "Saturday Night," Saturday Night, and SNL), NBC, 1993.

The Late Show with David Letterman, CBS, 1993, 1995, 1998, and 2000.

"Addicted to Fame," First Person with Maria Shriver, NBC, 1994.

The Martin Short Show, NBC, 1994.

Inside the Actors Studio, Bravo, 1995.

Narrator, "New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children/Committee Praying," Sex and the Silver Screen, Showtime, 1996.

Herself, "Arnold Schwarzenegger: Flex Appeal," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 1996.

Herself, "Where Is the Love?," The Larry Sanders Show, HBO, 1996.

The Rosie O'Donnell Show, syndicated, 1996 and 1998.

Voice of Junie Harper, "Hilloween," King of the Hill (animated), Fox, 1997.

Secretary number ninety–one, "Opus One," Murphy Brown, CBS, 1998.

"Lee Strasberg: The Method Man," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 1998.

Celebrity Profile: Danny Glover (documentary), E! Entertainment Television, 1998.

Intimate Portrait: Sally Field, Lifetime, 1998.

TVography, Arts and Entertainment, 1998.

Herself, "James Garner: A Maverick Spirit," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2000.

The Directors: Sydney Pollack, Encore, c. 2000.

Herself, "Jackie Gleason: The Great One," Biography, Arts and Entertainment, 2001.

The View, ABC, 2002.

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, NBC, 2002 and 2003.

Television Work; Miniseries:

Executive producer, A Woman of Independent Means, NBC, 1995.

Director, "The Original Wives Club," From the Earth to the Moon, HBO, 1998.

Television Work; Movies:

Executive producer and director, The Christmas Tree, ABC, 1996.



Oscar's Greatest Moments, 1992.

Mom, Saturday Night Live Christmas, 1999.

Music Videos:

"Voices That Care," 1991.


Sally Field—Star of the Flying Nun, RCA Victor, 1968.


Teleplays; Movies:

(With Janet Brownell) The Christmas Tree, ABC, 1996.



Bonderoff, Jason, Sally Field, St. Martin's Press, 1987.

Goldstein, Toby, Sally Field, PaperJacks, 1988.

International Directory of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.

St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, St. James Press, 2000.


American Film, October, 1982, p. 58.

Back Stage West, September 14, 2000.

Entertainment Weekly, November 26, 1993; February 17, 1995; September 22, 2000, pp. 36–41.

Films Illustrated, August, 1979.

Good Housekeeping, March, 1996; October, 1998, p. 35; June, 2001.

Gotham, June, 2003, pp. 286–87.

Inc., March, 2000.

Movieline, October, 1996.

My Generation, January, 2002, pp. 40–44.

New Statesman, June 21, 1996.

New York Post, February 16, 1995; October 2, 2002.

New York Times, September 16, 1984; September 21, 1984; July 6, 1994; November 4, 2002; July 2, 2003.

People Weekly, October 15, 1984, p. 112; October 17, 1988, p. 90; July 8, 1991; January 29, 1996; November 27, 2000, p. 93.

Premiere, winter, 1993; August, 1994.

Time, December 24, 1984; November 20, 1989; August 1, 1994.

TV Guide, February 18, 1995, pp. 10–14.

Variety, October 14, 2002.

Field, Sally

views updated May 14 2018

Sally Field

American actress Sally Field (born 1946) vaulted to stardom in the 1960s by playing perky ingénues on the small screen and went on to an equally impressive career in feature film. For nearly three decades, noted Variety contributor Charles Isherwood, two-time Academy Award winner Field "has specialized in playing women whose demure exteriors have a way of cracking open to unleash torrents of outsized emotion at times of crisis."

Field grew up in the entertainment business. She was born on November 6, 1946, in Pasadena, California, to Margaret Field, a studio contract player of the era, and a pharmaceutical salesperson. After her parents divorced, her mother remarried Jock Mahoney, a working actor and stuntman whose most noted screen credit came in the 1960s as Tarzan. Both her mother and stepfather, Field later recalled, were "real working-class actors, which was really important to be around, in that I had no illusion about some glorious, glamourous, easy place," she told Back Stage West writer Jamie Painter Young.

Cast as Surfer Girl

At Birmingham High School in the San Fernando Valley, Field naturally gravitated toward the drama department, and there she was a standout. Her ebullient personality and wholesome looks landed her a spot in a Columbia Studios workshop for budding screen stars in 1964, and she was ultimately cast as the lead in a new ABC television series, Gidget, which reprised the popular surfer-teen movies of the same name. The show ran for one season, and when it ended Field thought about relocating to New York City so that she might try her luck on the stage. "I wanted to study and live on thirty-seven cents in a little apartment, and do off-off-off-off-off-off-Broadway," she said in an interview with Liz Smith for Good Housekeeping. "But I was afraid. I had never been outside of California.… I was influenced by my family, and they were frightened."

Miserable in Popular Series

ABC had canceled Gidget, but it was doing so well in summer reruns that Field was offered another title role in a new sitcom, The Flying Nun. She was asked to play Sister Bertrille, a young, irrepressible Roman Catholic nun at a Puerto Rican convent who could actually fly. Field thought the premise was ridiculous, and promptly turned it down. "I hated the whole idea," she later recalled to Entertainment Weekly writer Jeff Jensen. But then her stepfather urged her to take it. "He said, 'If you don't do this, you may never work again,'" and so she took the part.

The Flying Nun was a hit and made Field a star. In the show she wore an improbable outfit built around a traditional nun's habit with one of the more extreme, winglike forms of head covering for women's religious orders. The head covering weighed six pounds, and the flying stunts required Field to be strapped to wire contraptions. She was miserable and went through a period of depression and overeating. "I would lose 10 or 15 pounds in a week, eating nothing but cucumbers and working all day," she recalled in an interview with People writer Elizabeth Sporkin. "My hands would shake all the time, and sometimes I'd pass out. But then I would go on these enormous binges. I lived alone and was very lonely."

A sympathetic actress from the television series, Madeleine Sherwood, encouraged Field to take classes with renowned drama teacher Lee Strasberg, who held classes in Los Angeles as part of his famed Actors Studio once a year. There, Field blossomed, working alongside Jack Nicholson and Ellen Burstyn, among other young luminaries and future Oscar-winners. Returning to the set of The Flying Nun only worsened matters, however, and so on a jaunt to Las Vegas in 1968 Field married her high-school boyfriend, becoming pregnant not long afterward. To her relief, the show was canceled in 1970, and she took a break for a time to concentrate on being a wife and mother.

Moved into Film

Field appeared in the occasional made-for-television movie, but financial pressure from her husband, a carpenter, compelled her to return to work on a more permanent basis. Once again, she accepted a part she loathed: in The Girl with Something Extra, a 1973–74 sitcom, she played a newlywed with psychic powers. Not long afterward, Field divorced, fired her manager, and went back to the Actors Studio. She was eager to move into film, but had a difficult time in the industry, partly because of her high-profile Gidget and Sister Bertrille roles. "It wasn't only that I was typecast or identified with fluffy situation comedy," she explained to Young in her Back Stage West interview. "It was that in those days there was a real stigma between television and film, and no one in film wanted anything to do with anyone who came from television." She finally convinced a director to cast her in Jeff Bridges' film Stay Hungry, in 1976, but ironically she wound up winning the best actress Emmy that year for her additional work in the television movie Sybil. Based on a nonfiction book, the acclaimed project starred Field as a young woman suffering from multiple personality disorder because of childhood abuse.

Field continued to have a tough time landing film roles, and she described this period of her life, during which she was a single mother, as one of the hardest in her life. She recalled in the Good Housekeeping interview with Smith that "I really didn't have any money, and I had two kids and a dream and had no real way of knowing that it would ever happen. I was scared." A romance with one of Hollywood's biggest stars of the era, heartthrob Burt Reynolds, began when she appeared in one of Reynolds's Smokey and the Bandit films, and the relationship lasted through five years and a few more movies. In the end, intense media scrutiny doomed the relationship, but years later Reynolds often told interviewers that the break-up was the biggest regret of his life.

Two Oscars

Field's sixth movie role gave her the first Oscar nomination of her career: the 1979 drama Norma Rae. Here she was cast as an unlikely hero, the scrappy, reluctant union organizer of a small textile mill. In one scene, Field's character shuts off her noisy machine, writes the word "union" on a card, and holds it aloft. One by one, the other workers also turn off their machines in the stirring, three-minute sequence. "It may be the most powerful act of wordless suasion in film: testimony to the fact that in leadership, oratory isn't everything," noted a writer for Inc. Field won several best-actress honors for her work in Norma Rae and beat out Jane Fonda and Bette Midler for the Academy Award that year.

Field went on to appear in a number of other major Hollywood films of the 1980s, often cast as a plucky fighter who triumphs over sadness and hardship. She won her second Oscar for best actress for 1984's Places in the Heart, a 1930s Texas back-country drama. She was cast in the lead as Edna, a woman whose sheriff husband is slain and then must struggle to save the family farm. New York Times critic Vincent Canby claimed her character is "beautifully played," and went on to note that Field excels in the part of a woman "whose growth, in the course of the film, reflects an almost 19th-century faith in the possibilities of the American system, not as the system was, but as one wanted to believe it to be."

Infamous Speech

The following March, Field delivered what would become another career-defining performance: her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards ceremony, which is often misquoted as her gushing, "You like me!" What she actually enthused that night, according to Entertainment Weekly, was: "The first time, I didn't feel it, but this time I feel it and I can't deny the fact that you like me! Right now, you like me!" Other roles that came her way in the 1980s included Murphy's Romance, playing opposite James Garner, and Steel Magnolias, in which she played the mother of newcomer Julia Roberts.

In 1991 Field played a diva-like daytime television star in Soapdish, and took on another everywoman-heroine role in Not without My Daughter, based on the true story of a woman who was forced to smuggle her daughter out of Iran in the early 1980s when her native-born husband refused to let the child return to the United States. She was cast as the soon-to-be ex-wife of Robin Williams's character in 1993's Mrs. Doubtfire, playing a woman who does not realize her husband has disguised himself as an elderly female housekeeper in order to spend more time with their children. She was also the oft-quoted "Mama" in Forrest Gump, the surprise hit of 1994.

For a time, Field ran her own production company in the hopes of finding better film projects for herself. She produced the 1991 Julia Roberts tearjerker Dying Young, and both produced and starred in the 1995 mini-series A Woman of Independent Means, which was nominated for two Emmys. Critics mostly assailed her first action-hero role, which came in John Schlesinger's 1996 film Eye for an Eye. Field plays a woman whose daughter is murdered and vows to avenge the death when the killer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, goes free on a legal technicality.

Made Directorial Debut

Field was teaching workshops at the invitation of Robert Redford at his Sundance Institute in Utah when she began to explore the possibility of directing. She wrote a teleplay for a holiday fable, The Christmas Tree, starring Julie Harris, and her friend Tom Hanks hired her to helm the camera for an episode of his HBO series, From the Earth to the Moon. In 2000 she directed the independent film Beautiful, which features Minnie Driver as a ruthless beauty pageant contestant determined to win America's top crown. Field went back to television when she was offered a small role on the hit drama ER in 2000 and proved so popular as the manic-depressive mother of a series regular that she came back the following season and won an Emmy for her performance. In 2003 Field appeared as a Washington politician who hires Reese Witherspoon's Elle Woods in the popular comedy Legally Blonde 2. A much-touted television series which had the veteran actress playing a U.S. Supreme Court justice earned mixed reviews and was not renewed.

Field finally made it onto the New York stage in the fall of 2002, when producers cast her in The Goat; or, Who Is Sylvia? The Edward Albee-penned drama centered around an architect who falls in love with his goat, with Field playing his baffled, angry wife. She earned glowing reviews for her performance. Writing in Variety, Isherwood noted that Mercedes Ruehl originated the part and had done well, but "Field's touches the heart in a way that brings a new emotional ballast to Stevie's dilemma, and a new emotional equilibrium to the play."

Social-Phobia Sufferer

Field's two sons from her first marriage are grown: Peter Craig is a novelist, while Field's other son has become the third generation in his family to work as an actor. She also has a younger son from her second marriage, with whom she lives in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. Despite the posh ZIP code, Field eschews the Hollywood party scene. It was her producer husband's love of socializing that ended her second marriage, she told People writer Gregory Cerio. "He wanted to go out, to be with people or go to parties," she confessed. "I couldn't take it. I'd have an anxiety attack."

Like many female actresses of her generation, Field maintains that finding mature roles is not an easy task, but she remains sanguine about her years in Hollywood. As she told Smith in the Good Housekeeping interview, "I want to be able to look back on my life and my career in the motion picture industry, and say: I'm proud of the work, and I had some significance. I represented women of my generation. I was lucky enough to be part of films that in some way represented me."


International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, Volume 3: Actors and Actresses, St. James Press, 1996.


Back Stage West, September 14, 2000.

Entertainment Weekly, November 26, 1993; February 17, 1995; September 22, 2000.

Good Housekeeping, March, 1996; October, 1998; June 2001.

Inc., March 2000.

National Review, December 14, 1984.

New Statesman, June 21, 1996.

New York Post, October 2, 2002.

New York Times, September 21, 1984; July 6, 1994; November 4, 2002; July 2, 2003.

People, October 15, 1984; October 17, 1988; July 8, 1991; January 29, 1996; November 27, 2000.

Time, December 24, 1984; November 20, 1989; August 1, 1994.

Variety, October 14, 2002.

Field, Sally

views updated May 29 2018

FIELD, Sally

Nationality: American. Born: Pasadena, California, 6 November 1946. Education: Attended Birmingham High School, California; Actors Studio, New York, 1968 and 1973–75; studied acting with David Craig. Family: Married 1) Steve Craig, 1968 (divorced 1973), sons: Peter and Elijah; 2) the producer Alan Greisman, 1984 (divorced 1995), son: Sam. Career: 1964—enrolled in Columbia Pictures Workshop, a branch of Columbia Studios; 1965–66—in title role of TV series Gidget and The Flying Nun, 1967–70; 1971–73—role as Clementine Hale in TV series Alias Smith and Jones; 1973–74—in title role of TV series The Girl with Something Extra; mid-1970s—studied acting and appeared in summer stock; 1984—formed Fogwood Films Ltd. production company; starred in and co-executive produced TV mini-series A Woman of Independent Means. Awards: Emmy Award, for Sybil, 1976; Academy Award for Best Actress, Best Actress, Cannes Festival, and Best Actress, New York Film Critics, for Norma Rae, 1979; Academy Award for Best Actress, for Places inthe Heart, 1984. Agent: Creative Artists Agency, 9830 Wilshire Boulevard, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Actress:


The Way West (McLaglen) (as Mercy McBee)


Marriage: Year One (Graham—for TV); Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring (Deadly Desire) (Sargent—for TV) (as Denise)


Hitched (Westward the Wagon) (Sagal—for TV); Mongo's Back in Town (Chomsky—for TV) (as Vikki)


Home for the Holidays (Moxey—for TV)


Stay Hungry (Rafelson) (as Mary Tate Farnsworth); Bridger (Rich—for TV); Sybil (Petrie—for TV) (title role)


Smokey and the Bandit (Needham) (as Carrie); Heroes (Kagan) (as Carol)


Hooper (Needham) (as Gwen); The End (Burt Reynolds) (as Mary Ellen)


Norma Rae (Ritt) (title role); Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (Irwin Allen) (as Celeste Whitman)


Smokey and the Bandit II (Smokey and the Bandit Ride Again) (Needham) (as Carrie)


Back Roads (Ritt) (as Amy Post); Absence of Malice (Pollack) (as Megan)


Kiss Me Goodbye (Mulligan) (as Kay Villano)


Places in the Heart (Benton) (as Edna Spalding)


Murphy's Romance (Ritt) (as Emma Moriarty, + exec pr)


Surrender (Belson) (as Daisy Morgan, Artist)


Punchline (Seltzer) (as Lilah Krytsik)


Steel Magnolias (Ross) (as M'Lynn Eatenton)


Not without My Daughter (Brian Gilbert) (as Betty Mahmoody)


Soapdish (Hoffman) (as Celeste Talbert)


Mrs. Doubtfire (Columbus) (as Miranda Hillard); Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (Dunham) (as voice of Sassy the cat)


Forrest Gump (Zemeckis) (as Forrest's mother)


Eye for an Eye (Schlesinger) (as Karen McCann); Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco (David R. Ellis) (as voice of Sassy the cat)


Merry Christmas, George Bailey (Diamond—for TV) (as Mrs. Bailey/Narrator)


A Cooler Climate (Seidelman) (as Iris Prue)


Where the Heart Is (Williams) (as Mama Lil); David Copperfield (Medak—for TV) (as Betsey Trotwood)

Films as Director:


The Christmas Tree


From the Earth to the Moon (co-d + ro as Trudy Cooper)

Other Films:


Dying Young (co-pr)


A Woman of Independent Means (pr + ro as Bess Alcott)


By FIELD: articles—

Interview in Films Illustrated (London), August 1979.

"Teleperforming vs. Screen Acting," in The Movie Star, edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

"Table Talk," interview with Nancy Griffin, in Premiere (New York), Winter 1993.

On FIELD: books—

Bonderoff, Jason, Sally Field, New York, 1987.

Goldstein, Toby, Sally Field, New York, 1988.

On FIELD: articles—

Klemesrud, Judy, in New York Times, 27 December 1977.

Current Biography 1979, New York, 1979.

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Shindler, Merrill, "Hollywood's Greatest Survivor," in Los Angeles Magazine, November 1989.

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Hennessey, K., and Bailey, E., "Look Before You Leap!" in Movieline, October 1996.

* * *

Gritty, plucky, feisty—and other adjectives that have fallen out of favor—spring to mind when contemplating the essence of Sally Field's appeal. Her limitations (including a regrettably thin voice, a failing that puts her in good company with Elizabeth Taylor and Natalie Wood) are as immediately apparent as her virtues (a translucent honesty which rescues her from the precipice of seeming too actressy). A specialist in regional scrappers, Field has not shown a yen for foreign accents or idiosyncratic filmmakers, but, within her self-prescribed range as the steamrolling American flattening injustices like so much roadkill, she is in a league of her own. What is most remarkable about her stimulating performances is that she willed herself into the position to create them, despite the campy backlash in the wake of The Flying Nun and Gidget. How many other troupers could have not only survived being a cutie-pie in such fluff as The Girl with Something Extra but also have gone on to silence her detractors with two Oscars on her mantlepiece.

Even during her humble starlet origins, there must have been dozens of characters this pop-culture princess yearned to give birth to; in a sense, she unleashed them all with her breakthrough role in Sybil. Playing a multiple personality, she gave a knockout performance that has stood the test of time; it was so stunning in its clarity and so terrifying in its chameleon shifts of mood, that even her critics had to clam up. A hard act to follow, Sybil did not open any eyes at the film studios, so Field slipped into movies by the rear door of Burt Reynolds's speeding car (Smokey and the Bandit). Proving she could breezily peel rubber through America's back roads, Field again amazed the industry with a heartfelt performance as a Southern factory worker whose low self-esteem gets a shot in the arm from her awakened social conscience. Turned down by many big stars, the Norma Rae role provided a perfect outlet for Field's native intelligence and fired-up passion. It was a much more creditable and credible glimpse into the blue-collar soul than Meryl Streep's similar but phonily twangy Silkwood.

Aside from these high points, Field was believably contentious as a parasitic journalist making amends in Absence of Malice and was engaging as an eager-to-please housewife balancing career and home in that stand-up comedy cavalcade, Punchline. Often cast in mother roles, she tended to repeat standard renditions of resoluteness in the terminal-illness crowd-pleaser Steel Magnolias and that heartland ode Places in the Heart, a beloved movie that reduces all its interesting conflicts into tests of cornpone indomitability. Is it any wonder Field was pegged to play a further reduction of a Hallmark Hall of Fame-type mommy in the megagrosser Forrest Gump which not only revisits Field's little-people roots but also applauds the dumb luck of the mentally challenged? Nor was she wise to cast herself as an avenging vigilante-mom battling male prerogatives in Not without My Daughter and Eye for an Eye. Gussied up as feminist tracts, these thrillers were Charlotte Bronson odysseys which almost parodied Field's spirit of rage. Rather than contribute further to the stupidization of American films, Field could put her grassroots valor to better use in vehicles such as her mini-series, A Woman of Independent Means. In one of her classiest roles, Field illuminates a feminist soap opera by making her wife-mother's journey to self-realization painfully moving. Like Norma Rae, and Sybil, this typical Field character digs deep to find a courage that is new to her. A master at revealing how everyday people shock themselves with such discoveries, Field is really the role-model next door.

—Robert Pardi