File this one under "I can't believe this hasn't been noded yet."

Sally Field (1946-) is an actress whom many are tempted to dismiss as simply the excessively perky star of sentimental films headed straight to the Lifetime network after their cinematic debut. But it's a shame to dismiss her, because she's a great actress whose talents are underutilized because of the dearth of decent roles for women in Hollywood films.

She is the daughter of actress Margaret Field and the stepdaughter of actor and stuntman Jock Mahoney. She took an interest in acting early, and skipped college in favor of an acting workshop at Columbia Studios. In 1965, success came early as she beat out hundreds of young actresses for the coveted lead in the infamous sitcom Gidget, based on the popular film. Gidget lasted only one season, but made Field a teen favorite. As a result, she landed the lead in The Flying Nun in 1967.

After the cancellation of The Flying Nun, which ran for three seasons, she returned to her acting studies and desperately attempted to shed her perky image with roles like a junkie in Maybe I'll Come Home in the Spring (1970) and a nude scene in Stay Hungry (1975). She finally succeeded with her stunning performance in the TV movie Sybil (1976), playing an abused woman with multiple personality disorder.

She soon had career image problems again. Because of her lengthy relationship with Burt Reynolds and a number of bad films that featured the couple together (*cough* Smokey and the Bandit *cough*), she became known as "Burt Reynolds' girlfriend" in the public mind. She ditched the Reynolds stigma in 1979 with her role as a union organizer in Norma Rae, which snagged her an Academy Award for Best Actress, her first.

Her second Oscar came with 1984's Places in the Heart, where Field played a widow determined to keep the family farm. The movie, which is great, is overshadowed by Field's speech at the Academy Awards ceremony, where she blurted out "You like me! You really like me!", a line forever to be remembered by stand-up comedians and talk show hosts.

Notable films after this include Punchline (1988), the sentimental Steel Magnolias (1989), the overwrought but compelling drama Not Without My Daughter (1990), the very funny soap opera parody Soapdish (1991), Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), and Forrest Gump (1994).

Supplement:

Truly one of Hollywood's most underrated actresses. Since 1994, Sally has made her directorial debut in film with 2000's Beautiful, which starred Minnie Driver. In the Farrelly brothers comedy Say It Isn't So! (released in March 2001), she plays a foul-mouthed, white trash matriarch. As of this writing, she is also starring in the TV movie Where the Heart Is with Natalie Portman, Ashley Judd and Stockard Channing, airing in April and May on the various HBO networks.

Field also returned to television in 2001 in six episodes of the highly-rated NBC drama ER, where she plays the manic depressive mother of Abby Lockhart (Maura Tierney), a perfomance that has earned her a Screen Actors Guild award nomination, and in my opinion, deserves an Emmy. In March 1999, the Santa Barbara Film Festival honored Field with its annual Ruby Award, presented for "her exceptional talent and role in elevating the portrayal of everyday women to the ranks of the American heroine."


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