HER SWINGIN' '60s CREDENTIALS: This perky brown-eyed cutie went from being head cheerleader at L.A.'s Birmingham High to making a splashy TV debut as Frances "Gidg" Lawrence in "Gidget" and two years later playing another signature '60s role, Sister Bertrille in "The Flying Nun."
CATEGORIES OF SWINGIN' CHICK:TV Star, Movie Star, and Songbird
BIRTH: She was born on November 6 in '46, so she was only nineteen as the Gidg (she wasn't the only future Oscar winner on that show, in the episode "Ego a Go-Go" in '66 the part of Norman "Durf the Drag" Durfner, a classmate at Westside High, was played by a nineteen-year-old actor named Richard Dreyfuss). Her exotic birthplace: Pasadena, California.
IMPACT ON THE '60s: Best known for her impressive body of Oscar-winning filmwork, Sally Field enjoyed considerable success in the '60s as one of the few actresses ever to star in two successful shows. Back then she wasn't the well-respected dramatic presence that she is now; she came across more like your nutty kid sister, all freshness and cuteness and innocence. She won her first role, Gidget Lawrence for "Gidget" in '65, over 75 other young actresses. This was the TV version of the Sandra Dee hit film of '59. On the second show, "The Flying Nun," supposedly her character lived in the Convent San Tanco in Puerto Rico. Her ability to fly was explained by her low weight -- only ninety pounds -- and the stiff winged headgear the nuns wore. When 22-year-old Sally got pregnant during the show's final season, obviously it had to be concealed, since she was playing a celibate nun; she delivered a son in November '69 and went back to work in December to film the last episodes.
CAREER IN THE '60s: Popular for half the decade, she had two quality TV shows built around her. About these early shows, she's quoted in Jason Bonderoff's bio Sally Field as saying, "Those series didn't hurt me, they gave me the greatest education in the world. There isn't anything I can't do in front of a TV camera as a result of the experience I gained from them. I could stand on my head right now if necessary and spit wooden nickels." Sally was a popular, natural actress, lively and personable, and in fact on "Gidget" she would talk directly to the camera as if the TV audience were comprised of good pals spending the night for a slumber party ("Toodles" was her signature goodbye). Debuting on September 15th of '65, Sally's show was popular, but it couldn't compete against the juggernaut that was "The Beverly Hillbillies," and so it was canceled after one season. Surfer girl went cowgirl in a little-seen Western The Way West, but bigger success was in the air. Literally. In '67 Sally got a new series that once again keyed on her winning personality and warm charm, though the premise was a little more fanciful. Though she wanted to be a movie star, she accepted "The Flying Nun" when she was offered $4500 per episode. Based on a book by Tero Rios called The Fifteenth Pelican, "The Flying Nun" posited Sally as Sister Bertrille, a nun in the Convent San Tanco in Puerto Rico. Her flights often landed her in trouble, in water, and even as a flying object identified as an enemy plane. The show debuted on September 7, 1967 in the Thursday 8:00 p.m. timeslot on ABC and lasted three seasons. Remember how she often crooned a tune on the show? Sally cut an album, singing the show's theme "Who Needs Wings to Fly?" and a dozen more gentle songs in '67 (her idol, she said in the liner notes, was Julie Andrews).
CAREER OUTSIDE THE '60s: Said Sally, "Acting has been my lover and y best friend, my confidante, and my tormentor. It has given me support and broken my heart and mended it." Growing up in a show-biz family, Sally wanted to be an actress from an early age. "The stage," she said, "was the only place I found I could be me." As a child she would write plays, and as a Drama Club member in high school she was the star of her school's plays. She was also voted "Funniest Girl" and a Homecoming Princess at her school. Her lightweight TV roles in the '60s led to lightweight TV roles in the early '70s, plus a night hosting "Saturday Night Live" in '75. The TV movie Sybil was her big breakthrough. She wasn't invited to audition but she forced her way in, knowing it would be the role that could establish her as a serious actress. Her major post-'60s impact has been on the big screen, where she graduated from goofy Burt Reynolds flicks like Smokey and the Bandit in '77, Hooper in '78, and The End in '78, to serious dramatic films like Norma Rae in '79, Absence of Malice in '81, Places in the Heart in '84, usually playing ferociously strong women. Sally also starred in great comedies like Murphy's Romance in '85, which was the first movie released by her own production company. Additional comedies included Soapdish in '91, Mrs. Doubtfire in '93, and Forrest Gump in '94, where she played Forrest's mom, even though she was only ten years older than Tom Hanks. She put in a cute appearance as one of the secretaries on "Murphy Brown" in '88. In August of 2000 she announced that she'd appear in six episodes of the hit show "ER," playing the estranged mother of one of the show's regular characters, Maura Tierney. Sally's first feature film as a director, Beautiful with Minnie Driver, came out in the fall of 2000. The glowing reviews included this nugget from the L.A. Times: "In a feature directorial debut that never feels like one, Field is as effortless behind a camera as she is in front of one." Sally also appeared as Betsy Trotwood in a TV movie of David Copperfield. Coming soon is a role as Heather Graham's mother in the film Say It Isn't So.
TALENT: She lived on her lively personality and cute looks until '76, when her real acting talent went on display in Sybil, which brought her an Emmy. She then won two Oscars in the '80s, for Norma Rae and Places in the Heart. After winning her second Oscar, she gave that infamous "You like me" speech at the '85 show, generously giving comedians material through the next decade:
"I haven't had an orthodox career," she said at the podium, near tears, "and I've wanted more than anything to have your respect. 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!"
We loved her great commercial for Charles Schwab, shown at the Oscars in March 2000: She's in the Schwab office going, "You like me, you really like me, you really really like me!" She received two Emmy nominations in '95 for A Woman of Independent Means, and since '78 she's gotten a total of eight nominations/victories at the Golden Globes, dating all the way back to the first Smokey. In 2001 she won an Emmy as the Outstanding Guest in a Drama Series for her guest-starring role on "ER."
HER '60s LOOK: With those big eyes, big cheeks, and short hair with an occasional Breck flip, she would've made a great Disney girl. She herself has said, "I look like the people you might have grown up with." Only 4' 11" tall in high school, Sally was always petite, but in the late '60s she went on a strange eating/purging binge that saw her weight fluctuate by twenty pounds. Even in her grown-up sexy '70s roles with Burt Reynolds, she still looked like a kid. In '95 she told In Style magazine that when it comes to dressing, "I try to look like the last person I saw that looked good." She converted one bedroom in her Southern California house to a home gym, plus she says she jogs twenty-25 miles a week. To her credit, she still weighs about 100 pounds, just right for her 5' 2'' frame. To show off her figure, she was on the cover of Playboy in March '86.
LIFESTYLE: Before she got married at 21, she dated Hollywood's young stars, such as Monkee Davy Jones, Pete Deuel, Chris George, Paul Peterson, and Jerry's kid, Gary Lewis. She eloped to Vegas with her high school sweetheart Steven Craig on September 16th of '68, he was three years her senior and a struggling writer. Her son Peter was born on November 10th of '69, this while she was on "The Flying Nun." A second son, Elijah, was born in '72. Sally filed for divorce in '75, wanting to start her career and her life anew. She was then linked to Johnny Carson, and Kevin Kline. She describes herself as having "crippling shyness" until after the '60s when she had turned thirty and was seeing Burt Reynolds, who was thrusting confidence into her for about five years in the mid-late '70s. The tabloids reported that they eloped to Palm Springs, and indeed Burt did propose to Sally several times, but she turned him down and they split up at the end of the '70s. She married producer Alan Greisman, the producer of Sally's movie Soapdish, in '84, and had one son with him, Sam, in December of '87 when Sally was 41 and had just finished shooting Punchline with Tom Hanks. Sally and Greisman divorced in the mid-'90s.
EXTRAS: She's not to be confused with Sally Fields, who appeared in the 1927 film The Hostess ... our Sally is the daughter of actress Margaret Field, who was in The Man from Planet X in '51 ... Sally's parents divorced when she was five, her mom then married actor Jock Mahoney, he was a tall strapping studly type who played Tarzan in several '60s films ... in '67 Sally tested for the role of Elaine in The Graduate, but lost it to Katharine Ross because of her lack of film experience ... Sally's been in some of Hollywood's biggest box-office smashes: Smokey and the Bandit made $126 million and was the most successful comedy of the '70s, while Forrest Gump leaped into the top-ten of all-time box-office hits ... she has said that on movie sets she usually does lots of needlework between takes ... she produced Dying Young with Julia Roberts, and she directed one of the episodes of Tom Hanks' From the Earth to the Moon in '98 ... on the latter project, special-effects whiz Ernest Farino, who also worked on the show and was nominated for an Emmy, tells this story about her: "We were standing by the video monitor watching the rehearsal for a shot, and when the rehearsal was done she quietly mused, to no one in particular, 'I like it, I really like it,' which I thought showed a pretty self-effacing sense of humor" ... among the books on her large bookshelf in her Brentwood home between Santa Monica and Beverly Hills are a Hemingway collection, Shakespeare, classic modern novels like Bonfire of the Vanities and The Executioner's Song, the works of Tennessee Williams, Christmas treasuries, and a book of love quotations ... her Mediterranean-style house also has a baby grand piano, a shelf with leather-bound scripts of her movies, an elephant tusk that's a souvenir from an '84 ballooning trip over Tanzania for "The American Sportsman" show ... on the fridge are candid shots of her friends -- Goldie Hawn, Kate Capshaw and Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson ... in the January 2001 issue of Biography magazine, she acknowledges that she has an explosive temper: "I'm a Scorpio, I don't ever forget" ... she sums up her philosophy with a quote by Rilke, the German poet: "One must always go toward what is difficult. And I think that is true, I ask myself where is the next dream that I haven't tapped into yet, I feel I have so many unseen places I need to go, quickly, I've always felt that way, that there's something calling".