It’s hard to believe that in all the decades that I’ve been an entertainment journalist and Sally Field has been an actor, the two of us have never had a proper conversation about her illustrious career. Until now, that is.
In preparation for our cover interview, I read her searing 2018 memoir “In Pieces” and was saddened to learn about her tortured childhood, being sexually abused by her stepfather, and her struggles with depression, loneliness and self-doubt.
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Despite someone’s public persona, of course we never really know what’s going on inside. Along with all the triumphs Field achieved, it’s shocking to know that she endured so much pain in her personal and professional lives. It was bold of her to finally speak her truths in her autobiography, which took seven years to write. Among other things, she revealed what a troubled relationship she had with Burt Reynolds, who had many inner demons. It’s no wonder that when she appeared on “The View” after Reynolds’ death in 2018, she said she hadn’t spoken to him in some 30 years.
“He was not someone I could be around,” she told me in our interview. “He was just not good for me in any way.” Reynolds was so controlling that he convinced Field she shouldn’t go to the Emmy ceremony the year she was nominated and wound up winning for “Sybil.”
I asked Field what prompted her to bare her soul after living with her secrets for so long. She said after her mother died, she was asked by her friend and co-founder of the nonprofit Omega Institute for Holistic Studies to deliver the keynote address at one of her annual women’s conferences. “They thought I was going to write a 15-minute ditty … but I gave a 55-minute speech that was so raw and so emotional that it ultimately became the last chapter of my book,” Field says, referring to the wrenching story of her mother late in life confessing to her that she had known all along that her then husband had abused Field as a young teen. But he had lied and told her it was just one drunken night. Field let her mom know it was “all through my childhood.”
Field tells me that after her speech, she knew she had to write it down. “It was the only way I was going to find the pieces of my mother that I couldn’t put together. And until I could see that, I couldn’t forgive her, and I needed to forgive her or at least understand her. So I wrote the book to forgive her.”
In spite of all Field’s struggles, it’s comforting to see her today at 75 so spry, and someone who draws much happiness being with her grown children, her grandchildren and her pup Dash. She’s still politically engaged — at the recent premiere of “Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” she wore the colors of the Ukrainian flag — and she’s working on multiple productions.
There’s no holding back this force of nature.
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