24 February 2024

Sally Field

American screen and stage actress Sally Field (1946) has received many accolades throughout her career spanning over five decades, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, and three Primetime Emmy Awards, in addition to nominations for a Tony Award and two British Academy Film Awards. She began her career on television, starring in the comedies Gidget (1965–1966), The Flying Nun (1967–1970), and The Girl with Something Extra (1973–1974).

Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
British postcard by Klasik Kards, London, no. 1589. Sally Field in the TV series The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Sally Field
American Arcade card.

Sally Field
Big East German Starfoto by VEB Progress Film-Verleih, Berlin, no. 71/80s.

Sister Bertrille

Sally Margaret Field was born in 1946, in Pasadena, California, to Margaret Field (née Morlan), an actress, and Richard Dryden Field, who served in the Army during World War II. Her brother is Richard D. Field, a physicist and an academic. Her parents were divorced in 1950. In 1952, her mother married Jock Mahoney, an actor and a stuntman. Field said in her 2018 memoir that she was sexually abused by Mahoney during her childhood.

As a teen, Field attended Portola Middle School and Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, where she was a cheerleader. Her film debut was as an extra (a Beatnik girl) in Moon Pilot (James Neilson, 1962). Field got her start on television as the boy-crazy surfer girl in the sitcom Gidget (1965–1966). The show was not an initial success and was cancelled after a single season; however, summer reruns garnered respectable ratings, making the show a belated success.

Wanting to find a new starring vehicle for Field, ABC produced The Flying Nun with Field cast as Sister Bertrille. Field found the concept of the show silly and refused the role at first, only to resettle on it after her stepfather, Jock Mahoney, warned her that she might not work again in show business if she did not accept the role. Screen Gems dismissed its second choice, Ronne Troup, who had already begun filming the pilot. Field recalled hanging from a crane and being humiliated by a parade of episodic television directors, one of whom grabbed her shoulders and moved her into position as if she were a prop.

The Flying Nun (1967-1970) centred on the adventures of a community of nuns in the Convent San Tanco in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The comic elements of the storyline were provided by the flying ability of the 90-pound novice Sister Bertrille, whose large headgear, enables her to fly in any stiff breeze. Her gift enables her to aid others, whether they wish it or not. The sitcom produced by Screen Gems for ABC was based on the 1965 book 'The Fifteenth Pelican', written by Tere Rios. The series was developed by Bernard Slade. The Flying Nun originally ran on ABC from 7 September 1967 to 3 April 1970, producing 82 episodes, including a one-hour pilot episode. Field credits co-star Madeleine Sherwood for encouraging her to enrol in acting classes. She also later commented that she has great affection for her young Gidget persona and was proud of her work on that show, but she has also admitted that she disliked and was embarrassed with The Flying Nun.

Phil Lindholm at IMDb: "Watching a show like The Flying Nun is like experiencing part of a 60's time capsule (in the best sense) because it's light years away from today's television fare. Starring the young Sally Field as a novice at the Convent San Tanco in Puerto Rico (who, incidentally, can fly) and co-starring such worthies as Madeleine Sherwood (as Mother Superior), Alejandro Rey (as playboy Carlos Ramirez) and Marge Redmond (as Sister Jacqueline), the makers of the show actually triumphed over its admittedly outrageous premise and crafted a series full of humor and heart. Field was ideally cast as Sister Bertrille (the former Elsie Etherington) who eventually wins over even the staid Mother Superior with her undeniable charm, high spirits and always good intentions. The gradual way in which she endears herself to The Reverend Mother (beautifully played by the gifted Sherwood) and the often exasperated Carlos, is unexpectedly moving."

Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
Dutch postcard, no. 2. Marge Redmond, Madeleine Sherwood and Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
Dutch postcard, no. 6. Marge Redmond, Sally Fieldand Madeleine Sherwood in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Sally Field and Alejandro Rey in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
Dutch postcard, no. 9. Sally Field and Alejandro Rey in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
Dutch postcard, no. 10. Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Moving past her television image of the girl next door

In 1973, Sally Field was cast in a starring role opposite John Davidson in the short-lived series The Girl with Something Extra (1973-1974). Following the series' cancellation, Field studied at the Actors Studio with acting teacher Lee Strasberg. Strasberg became a mentor to Field, helping her move past her television image of the girl next door. During this period, Field divorced her first husband in 1975.

Soon after studying with Strasberg, Field landed the title role in the television film Sybil (Daniel Petrie, 1976), based on the book by Flora Rheta Schreiber. Her dramatic portrayal of a young woman afflicted with dissociative identity disorder earned her an Emmy Award in 1977 and enabled her to break through the typecasting of her sitcom work.

It was followed by starring roles in the films Stay Hungry (Bob Rafelson, 1976) with Jeff Bridges and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Smokey and the Bandit (Hal Needham, 1977) with Burt Reynolds, Heroes (Jeremy Kagan, 1977), The End (Burt Reynolds, 1978), and Hooper (Hal Needham, 1978). She won two Academy Awards for Best Actress for Norma Rae (Martin Ritt, 1979), and Places in the Heart (Robert Benton, 1984). She also played notable roles in Smokey and the Bandit II (Hal Needham, 1980), Absence of Malice (Sydney Pollack, 1981) starring Paul Newman, Murphy's Romance (Martin Ritt, 1985), Steel Magnolias (Herbert Ross, 1989), Soapdish (Michael Hoffman, 1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (Chris Columbus, 1993) starring Robin Wiliams, and Forrest Gump (Robert Zemeckis, 1994) with Tom Hanks.

In the 2000s, Field returned to television with a recurring role on the medical drama ER, for which she won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2001. For her role as Nora Walker in the ABC drama series Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011), Field won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. She portrayed Mary Todd Lincoln in Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, 2012) starring Daniel Day-Lewis, for which she received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. She portrayed Aunt May in The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb, 2012) and its sequel, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (Marc Webb, 2014).

Sally Field also appeared in the films Hello, My Name Is Doris (Michael Showalter, 2015), and Spoiler Alert (Michael Showalter, 2022), as well as in the Netflix limited series Maniac (Cary Joji Fukunaga, 2018) with Emma Stone. She made her professional stage debut in the Broadway revival of Edward Albee's 'The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?' in 2002. Field returned to the stage after an absence of 15 years with the 2017 revival of Tennessee Williams's 'The Glass Menagerie', for which she received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She made her debut on the West End theatre in the revival of Arthur Miller's 'All My Sons' in 2019.

Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
Dutch postcard, no. 12. Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
Dutch postcard, no. 14. Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970)
Dutch postcard, no. 22. Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

The Flying Nun
Dutch postcard, no. 24. Sally Field in The Flying Nun (1967-1970).

Sally Field on affiche Places in the Heart (1984)
French postcard by Editions F. Nugeron, no. E 225. Image: Tristar. French affiche for Places in the Heart (Robert Benton, 1984) with Sally Field, Gennie James and Yankton Hatten.

Sources: Phil Lindholm (IMDb), Wikipedia and IMDb.

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