When you mention the name of Sally Field, different generations of women remember her for different roles. That is because she has continued to find quality movies and television shows to add to her resume. Beginning her career in 1965, 52 years later she is still appearing in respected films. The woman who started out as Gidget, a typical teenager has become Mary Todd Lincoln. Let’s take a look at her long and admired work.
Sally Margaret Field was born in 1946 in California. Her mother was actress Margaret Field. Margaret is a descendent of a passenger on the Mayflower and William Bradford, governor. Her parents divorced in 1950 and her mother then married stuntman Jock Mahoney. Sally graduated from Birmingham High School in Van Nuys where she was a cheerleader. Her classmates included Michael Milken and Cindy Williams.
Her first acting job was the role of Frances Elizabeth Lawrence, or Gidget, as she was nick-named in the 1965 series. Field was perfectly matched as the all-American girl Gidget; she lived with her widowed father, a college professor (Don Porter). Her older sister Anne was married, and she and her husband John felt compelled to watch over Gidget. Gidget spent most of her time surfing and hanging out with her best friend Larue played by Lynette Winter. The show was based on the book and Sandra Dee movies which were very popular, but the series was cancelled after only 32 episodes due to low ratings.
In 1967, she accepted the role of Sister Bertrille on The Flying Nun. The show featured a nun who was assigned to a convent in Puerto Rico. Her coronets and small size allowed the trade winds there to lift her up, and she was able to fly. This series was also based on novel, The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere Rios.
She also appeared in her first movie in 1967 – opposite of Kirk Douglas in The Way West.
Sally has been married twice, first to Steven Craig from 1968 to 1975. The couple had two sons, Peter and Eli. Following that marriage, Sally was involved in a long relationship with Burt Reynolds. In his book which came out in 2015 he said that she was the love of his life and definitely the one that got away. Sally then married Alan Greisman from 1984-1993 and they had one son, Samuel.
Field appeared in several television series in the 1970s and finally received a role as The Girl with Something Extra in 1973. For 22 episodes, she starred with John Davidson as her husband who realizes on his wedding night that his wife has ESP. Hopefully she was able to alert him that the show would be cancelled before the end of the season so he could start looking for a new job.
After this tv series flopped, Field became a serious movie actress. She appeared in many critically acclaimed movies during her career, including Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Norma Rae (1979), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), Places in the Heart (1984), Steel Magnolias (1989), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Forest Gump (1994), Legally Blonde 2 (2003), and, most recently, Lincoln (2012).
In the late 1990s, Field added to her resume, directing several shows including the tv film The Christmas Tree in 1996, one episode of From the Earth to the Moon in 1998, and the feature film Beautiful in 2000.
In 2000, Field returned to television with a recurring role on ER between 2000 and 2006. She played Abby Lockhart’s mother, Maggie, who has bipolar disorder. She won an Emmy for the role in 2001. She starred in The Court in 2002 which only lasted for six episodes.
In 2005, Sally was diagnosed with osteoporosis. She created the Rally with Sally for Bone Health campaign which encouraged early diagnosis of the condition using bone-density scans.
Her last television role was matriarch Nora Walker in Brothers & Sisters which was on the air from 2006 until 2011. Originally the role of Nora was played by Betty Buckley. The producers decided the character would take a different direction and offered the part to Field. She also won an Emmy for Lead Actress in a Drama Series for this show in 2007.
In 2014 Sally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, located front of the Hollywood Wax Museum.
2017 found Field in a Broadway production of The Glass Menagerie. She was nominated for a Tony award for best actress in a play for the performance.
In addition to her Emmys listed above, Sally won an Emmy for outstanding lead actress in a miniseries or movie for Sybil in 1977. She won Academy Awards for best actress in Norma Rae and Places in the Heart. Her acting performances have been nominated for awards 57 times.
Sally Field is a well-respected and award-winning actress who has continued to find projects as she ages which is not always easy for women in film. At 70, Field appears much younger and energetic than other women her age. She has continued to fight for causes she is passionate about. Her acting portfolio has definitely been a career to be proud of.
4 thoughts on “From Gidget to Mary Todd Lincoln: The Highly Respected Career of Sally Field”
I first saw her in “The Flying Nun.” She was great in “Norma Rae” and “Places in the Heart,” but I thought her most powerful performance was in the television movie “Sybil.”
I agree. We had to watch that movie in high school for psychology, and it left a very powerful impression on me.
She was in a wide range of movies (Forrest Gump, Mrs. Doubtfire, Legally Blonde 2, Lincoln are all very different!). I always like to hear about people in a position of influence who use their status to try and make a difference for others.
My favorite role of hers was probably Nora in Brothers and Sisters.