Born November 6, 1946, in Pasadena, CA, actress Sally Field was the daughter of another actress, Margaret Field, who is perhaps best known to film buffs as the leading lady of the sci-fi The Man From Planet X (1951). Field's stepfather was actor/stunt man Jock Mahoney, who, despite a certain degree of alienation between himself and his stepdaughter, was the principal influence in her pursuit of an acting career. Active in high-school dramatics, Field bypassed college to enroll in a summer acting workshop at Columbia studios. Her energy and determination enabled her to win, over hundreds of other aspiring actresses, the coveted starring role on the 1965 TV series Gidget. Gidget lasted only one season, but Field had become popular with teen fans and in 1967 was given a second crack at a sitcom with The Flying Nun; this one lasted three seasons and is still flying around in reruns.
Somewhere along the way Field made her film debut in The Way West (1967) but was more or less ignored by moviegoers over the age of 21. Juggling sporadic work on stage and TV with a well-publicized first marriage (she was pregnant during Flying Nun's last season), Field set about shedding her "perky" image in order to get more substantial parts. Good as she was as a reformed junkie in the 1970 TV movie Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring, by 1972 Field was mired again in sitcom hell with the short-lived weekly The Girl With Something Extra. Freshly divorced and with a new agent, she tried to radically alter her persona with a nude scene in the 1975 film Stay Hungry, resulting in little more than embarrassment for all concerned. Finally, in 1976, Field proved her mettle as an actress in the TV movie Sybil, winning an Emmy for her virtuoso performance as a woman suffering from multiple personalities stemming from childhood abuse. Following this triumph, Field entered into a long romance with Burt Reynolds, working with the actor in numerous films that were short on prestige but long on box-office appeal.