Sally Field started her illustrious career in television as the cutest little surf betty in TV history, Gidget. She followed up Gidget playing Sister Bertrille, a nun who had the habit of flying in The Flying Nun. In 1967, Sally Field left sitcoms behind her for greener pastures in made-for-TV movieland. She starred in a half dozen or so movies-of-the-week, as well as a few features, before hitting the jackpot with a 1976 TV movie that made everyone sit up and take notice of little Gidget.
Sybil won Sally Field an Emmy for her portrayal of a young woman who developed seventeen distinctive multiple personalities as a result of a brutal, abusive childhood. Sybil is painful to watch, but riveting, thanks to Field’s powerful yet subtle performance as the deranged woman who, with psychiatrist, Dr. Wilbur’s (Joanna Woodward) guidance, slowly restores her sanity.
Smokey & The Bandit (1977)
Sally Field continued making films in the dramatic vein, the tender Vietnam vet pic Heroes among them. But it was her role in Smokey & The Bandit as Carrie, the daughter of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason) and a vehemently unwilling bride-to be, that proved Field had the chops to succeed in both comedy and drama. Sassy, brassy, still cute-as-Gidget cute, Field held her own as the love interest/comic foil of Burt Reynold’s hee-heeing Smokey.
Norma Rae (1979)
With Norma Rae, Sally Field returned to more serious things than the illegal transport of beer and won her first Oscar. Norma Rae is a minimum-wage factory employee working in dangerous, unhealthy, sweatshop-like conditions. When she hears a speech by a big city union rabblerouser, Norma Rae is inspired to unionize her shop, against all odds. One of the great David-and-Goliath, fist-in-the-air, slow-build handclap movies of all time.
Throughout the Eighties, Field delivered several fine performances, including her second Oscar win for Places In The Heart. However, an overlooked bit of brilliance is the hilarious satire, Soapdish. Field plays Celeste Talbert, the star of a TV soap opera, who is in jeopardy of being written out of the show when jealous rival Montana Moorehead (Cathy Moriarty) has convinces producer David Barnes (Robert Downey, Jr.) to replace Celeste with her niece, Lori (Elizabeth Shue). A surprisingly funny latter-day farce, Soapdish may be Sally Field’s finest performance.
And, of course, Sally Field was Forrest Gump’s mom.
Congratulations Sally Field, and thank you.