a small girl in her nightgown, Sally Field would be
summoned to walk on her handsome stepfather’s back. As
he lay naked under a sheet, the former stuntman for
Errol Flynn seemed to want pain relief from the foot
pressure of a petite child. “Keep going, Doodle,” he
know where this scene is going, feeling the same
queasiness Field describes in her memoir, “In
Pieces,” now on sale.
says she didn’t publish the book to expose Hollywood
or to reveal aspects of her life: She wrote it for
really trying to unravel my own childhood survival
mechanisms that allowed me to survive as a child but got
in my way as an adult,” Field said in a phone
nothing to explain or even to tell. It was really my
investigation, my exploration, to find pieces of
does look forward to meeting readers:
always thinking to myself, ‘Just write it; you don’t
have to publish it.’ (But) there is something in the
communication of any of the ‘arts,’ if I can say
that in quotes. Acting is that. Whether you are onstage
or in front of a camera, it is a communication.
are offering yourself up, hoping that in return, you
will get the energy of those who are witnessing it, who
are reading it. That it will be a human communication
between those who are reading and the person who is
she isn’t trying to shock early fans of “Gidget”
and “The Flying Nun,” there are revelations that
have already made the news.
the abuse from stepfather “Jocko” (Jacques
O’Mahoney, who went on to have a TV show called “The
Range Rider” and star in two Tarzan movies), Field
writes that she was pregnant during “The Flying
Nun,” partied with the Monkees and was told by
director Bob Rafelson not only to kiss him but also to
take off her top (she did).
though she always resented the inanity of her role as
“flying” Sister Bertrille, it was a cast mate,
Madeleine Sherwood, who took her to Lee Strasberg’s
famous actors studio, a pivotal moment. Field also
writes about making pot brownies for her husband when he
got a draft notice during Vietnam and that later Burt
Reynolds didn’t want her to play “a whore.”
“whore” role, starring in “Norma Rae,” won Field
her first Oscar.
before writing about her career, she goes into detail
about her grandmother, aunts and siblings. Most
importantly, she portrays her beloved mother.
she looked at me, it was never through me, but into me,
lifting me off the ground in an invisible embrace,”
look-alike for the lovely actress Jennifer Jones, young
Margaret Morlan was spotted by a talent scout for
already married and delivered Sally and son Ricky, but
as her husband served during World War II, the young
mother studied with Charles Laughton. Her film career
would consist mostly of minor movies, but Baa (Field’s
name for her) and Jocko would both encourage Sally and
give her acting advice.
even as her mother drank and her ineffectual birth
father showed up on weekends, Field aims more for truth
just painting a picture of what there was. What she was
and how it affected me,” Field explains.
is her stepfather completely evil, sometimes pushing
Sally to take risks, teaching her to ride a bike or
swing from a tree. His acting experience gave her a bit
of cache when she shot films like “Hooper,” which
was about the life of stuntmen. In it, her stepfather
had a bit part, and a character played by Brian Keith
was named Jocko.
mother had long before divorced Jocko, and Field herself
had stood up to him as a teenager. Yet the fact they
were both in the cast was “utterly surreal,” she
writes. In another curious tidbit, Field and her mother
both act in a Florida theater production of “Bus
Stop,” with Burt Reynolds directing.
three movies with Reynolds, starting with the
blockbuster “Smokey and the Bandit.” Field wrote in
her journal in 1976: “The script stinks but when I
talked to Burt he told me we would ‘improv’ our way
through it. I can’t figure out why he wants me. I
don’t seem like his kind of leading lady.”
resulting relationship, Field now says, “He was a very
big part of my life, but for a very short time.”
hadn’t talked to him for 30 years, but after Reynolds
died this month, Field indicated he might have found her
portrayal of him in the book painful.
to paint him as a total human being,” she says. “He
was colorful and magical and all those things” but was
“vulnerable in the last years of his life.”
book he comes off at times as impatient and jealous,
bored with talk of her two young sons. Divorced from her
first husband, a friend from childhood, Field would be
called to mother Reynolds, bringing him dinner and
handing him Percocet for mysterious pain.
the #MeToo movement has illuminated sexism in Hollywood,
Field insists that her industry is just one of many,
saying, “It’s in every single, solitary place of
business. Women are now speaking up and saying
great. I grew up in a generation where that just
wasn’t an option. It was difficult even to see that
the behavior was outrageous.”
memoir takes readers through almost seven decades but
ends as it begins, with her mother. As Baa became ill,
Field was cast as Mary Todd Lincoln, filming
“Lincoln” with Steven Spielberg and Daniel
doesn’t delve into some of her roles, such as in
“Forrest Gump” or “Mrs. Doubtfire,” or certainly
the Netflix series “Maniac,” which begins Sept. 21,
the day she is in St. Louis.
writer purposely adheres to her story, which she says is
about her relationship with her mother and her
development as an actress.
is a very specific genre,” she says. “It’s not an
autobiography, that’s a very different thing. Memoir
is a story in a person’s life told by the person.
is a stretch of years when I was doing films that were
all incredibly important, but they didn’t fit in this
story. They were not about this tale that I’m