What’s not to love about actress Sally Field? The Hollywood veteran is beautiful, talented, able to make us both laugh and cry, and not afraid of aging. “I’ve gathered strength behind my years, I owned them, I’ve earned them, I’ve deserved them, I have a right to have them,” Field said earlier this year.
Indeed, the grandmother of five turns 70 on Sunday and we wanted to find some way of marking the occasion. While oodles of ink and pixels have been devoted to chronicling the career of the two-time Academy Award-winning star, we did uncover a few tidbits about her that might come as a surprise. Here are seven of them:
1. Sally Field landed her first big role when she was only 18.
Fresh out of high school, Field nabbed the lead in the TV series “Gidget,” which debuted in 1965. The show was canceled after only one season. But by then Field was so popular with TV audiences that a new sitcom was created for her, “The Flying Nun.” Initially she didn’t want to take the role of Sister Bertrille, as she believed she’d never be considered a serious actress. But her stepfather wouldn’t have it, telling her that if she didn’t, she may never work again.
2. Of all the things she’s accomplished, Field is most proud of her sons, Peter, Eli and Sam.
“One of the great privileges of my life to have been allowed to be a part of Sam’s journey.
There are people out there ― organizations and politicians, strangers who have never even met Sam ― who would rather devote themselves to denying his happiness.
Why would anyone want to prevent my son― or anyone’s son or daughter ― from having basic legal safeguards like family medical leave, Social Security survivors benefits, or health insurance? It doesn’t make any sense ― but it won’t change until people speak out. I’m proud to stand with HRC [Human Rights Campaign] to add my voice. Will you join me?”
Since divorcing her second husband, producer Alan Greisman, in 1993, Field has remained single. But she told People earlier this year that she’d be up for dating. “If I knew anyone I wanted to be with, I would hope I would have the gumption to bang on his door,” she says. “I just don’t know who that is.”
4. Field was cast as Tom Hanks’ love interest ― then his mother.
5. Field’s memorable Academy Award acceptance speech for the 1984 film “Places in the Heart” is still often misquoted.
Upon accepting her Best Actress award for her role as a 1930s southern widow trying to save her family farm, Field said: “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me.” That’s what she actually said. Unfortunately, she’s often misquoted as having said this instead: “You like me. You really like me.”
Over the years, many celebrities have parodied the misquoted speech, including actor Albert Brooks, who tweeted the following after he found out he wasn’t nominated for an Oscar for his role in “Drive” in 2012: “And to the Academy: ‘You don’t like me. You really don’t like me.”
6. While playing Norma Rae, Field fought so hard in one scene not to be loaded into the police car that she actually broke the rib of an actor playing one of the policemen.
Field won widespread praise from critics for her portrayal of the feisty mill worker in North Carolina who seeks to unionize the mill. The role ― turned down by Marsha Mason, Jane Fonda, Faye Dunaway and Jill Clayburgh ― won Field an Academy Award for best actress.
7. Although she’s landed many meaty roles throughout her career, Field still laments the lack of substantial parts for older women.
Field told AARP The Magazine earlier this year that most of the roles she’s offered these days are far from challenging. “I’m in a place in my life where the stuff that comes to me is just so generic, and you’re like, ‘Oh-kay.’ It’s the mother with all the kids, and story is really about all the kids, and the mother is just there.” She recalled that when she played the matriarch, Nora, on the TV series “Brothers and Sisters,” from 2006 to 2011, she pushed the network to allow her character to evolve and grow. But the network, she says, wasn’t having it.
Today her goal is to play complex characters her own age.
“I’m an aging actor, and my face and body — I have to be able to play what I am,” she adds. “If I play a character who is attractive, I want to be attractive, but I’m also on my way to being 70, so my face is drooping and falling, and my body isn’t what it was.”
Well, you look pretty good to us. Happy birthday, Ms. Field. Here’s hoping you have many many more.