Sally Field’s new memoir is revealing a whole new side of the actress — including her relationship with one of the most famous men in Hollywood.
Field, 71, opens up about various heartbreaking and intensely personal moments of her life in her new book In Pieces. In it, she touches on her childhood sexual abuse, her eating disorder to her tenuous relationship with Burt Reynolds.
Here are six surprising revelations from Fields’ memoir, which is now available for purchase.
She was sexually and emotionally abused by her stepfather, actor and stuntman Jock Mahoney.
Field’s mother, Margaret, filed for divorce from her father, Richard, in 1951, and remarried Mahoney in 1952. They divorced in 1968 and he died in 1989, according to The New York Times.
The actress says that when she was 14 years old, he would frequently call her into his bedroom alone.
“I knew,” she says in her memoir. “I felt both a child, helpless and not a child. Powerful. This was power. And I owned it. But I wanted to be a child — and yet.”
“I want to be good, but more than anything I want it to be over. And some part of me feels I’m in danger,” she writes.
Grand Central Publishing
Burt Reynolds began to “housebreak” Field early in their relationship.
Field and Reynolds met on the set of their film Smokey and the Bandit in 1977. What followed was a tumultuous relationship, she writes.
Field writes that Reynolds “began to housebreak” her when they got together, “teaching me what was allowed and what was not.”
“If I wanted to tell him what I’d accomplished or talk about my children, or Lord knows, disagree with him about anything, he’d listen glassy-eyed for a moment, maybe offer a distracted comment or two before turning away,” she writes.”
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Reynolds was also controlling, often wanting to know Field’s relationships with men who were not him.
“I knew early on never to mention the men who had been in my life, and later became terrified of running into somebody I might have known, whether sexually or not,” she writes. “Burt would pinch my face in his hands, demanding I tell him who the guy was and what kind of relationship I’d had with him.”
The actor died earlier this month at the age of 82.
Burt Reynolds and Sally Field
She never had many friends growing up.
“I don’t remember having any friends or playdates,” she writes, explaining kids at school would play “Red Rover, Red Rover.”
“I hated this no-win situation,” she says of the game. “I was the smallest one, and even if they did call my name, I couldn’t break through, only bounced off and had to return to the land of the losers. But there was always the chance that they wouldn’t call my name, and I’d have to stand there as everyone else broke through, joining the line one at a time, until they were all holding hands and looking at me, alone.”
Field’s initially said no to playing Sister Bertrille in The Flying Nun until she was bullied into it by her stepfather.
Field’s says her agent and others tried to talk her into accepting the role for the sitcom The Flying Nun, but she was determined to say no.
“… I didn’t want to play a cutesy version of a Catholic nun, wearing nothing but beige with never a thought of sex or a flirt with madness, two things that seemed much more interesting,” she explains.
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The actress writes the executive producer of the show, Harry Ackerman, reached out to her stepfather in an attempt to convince her to take on the role.
She reveals Mahoney instilled fear in her when he turned up at her apartment unannounced and said, “If you don’t do this show, Sally, you may never work again.”
“Because of that, for three years I was the Flying Nun,” she says.
Field began binge eating after a bad breakup with high school boyfriend Steve Bloomfield.
Midway through working on The Flying Nun, Field said she broke up with Bloomfield after he criticized her work as an actress. What followed was a downward spiral with food and binge eating, which she says was her only consolation.
“On Saturdays, I would go into the recording studio or do a photo layout, then fill the rest of the day cooking and eating, trying to drown my loneliness in a vat of spaghetti with gobs of meat sauce and a whole chocolate cake, unable to stop eating even when I was in physical pain,” she writes. “And always I was alone, hiding in a closet of food.”
“I’d stick my fingers down my throat, longing for the relief of puking, but get nothing except a hacking, impotent gag,” she says. “I’d never heard of an eating disorder — no one talked about such things in the late sixties.”
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Eventually, Field said she reached out to a doctor who “gave me a prescription for the only solution he had to offer — diet pills.”
“I was told to take on every morning, accompanied by a maximum-strength diuretic, wait thirty minutes and lo and behold — a jubilant, cotton-mouthed, babbling idiot who had to pee every two seconds,” Field writes.
She was allegedly asked by a director to take her shirt off and kiss him.
During an audition with director Bob Rafelson for the 1976 feature Stay Hungry, Field’s writes she was asked by him to take her shirt off and kiss him.
“In the midst of casually talking about the work, he told me to take my top off so he could see my breasts, saying since there was a nude scene in the film, he needed to figure out how to shoot me,” Field says. “Ignoring the sharp jab of emotion that shot through me, I removed my shirt as casually as he had made the request, then sat for his approval with my eyes closed — the only clue that those fingernails were clawing my insides.”
She continues, writing Rafelson told her, “Okay, Sal, the job is yours. But only after I see how you kiss. I can’t hire anyone who doesn’t kiss good enough.”
Field kissed him and got the job. When reached by The New York Times for a statement, Rafelson denied the allegations saying, “It’s totally untrue. That’s the first I’ve ever heard of this. I didn’t make anybody kiss me in order to get any part.”
In Pieces is now in bookstores.