Sally Field


  1. Katharine Ross, The Graduate,  1967. 
  2. Kim Darby, True Grit, 1968.  Director Henry Hathaway wanted Sally as Mattie. Producer Hall Wallis said her Flying NunTV image would work against her. Hathway was far from pleased with Darby – found in a TV show a month before shooting started in Colorado. “She’s not particularly attractive, so her book of tricks consisted mostly [of] being a little cute.”  Then again, if he’d explored, he would have discovered she had just given birth, was in mid-divorce and… scared of horses. Also in the Mattie mix: Duke’s teenage daughter Aissa (Mattie was supposed to be 14), Geneviève Bujold, singer Karen Carpenter (another Duke idea), Mia Farrow (who kicked herself for refusing).  Sondra Locke, Jaclyn Smith, Tuesday Weld. Plus past and future Duke co-stars Michele El Dorado Carey and Jennifer Rio Lobo O’Neill.
  3. Lindsay Wagner, The Bionic Woman, TV, 1976-1978.  Please tell me, someone, that Sally yelled: “Hell, no! Three seasons of The Flying Nun was bad enough.” Or., Stephanie Powers. Before Universal decided to choose her, Wagner finished her contract with the role – in a Six Million Dollar Man episode. It proved so successful she was still on the U payroll for two more years… of forever playing with her hair… and moving real fast… in slow-motion!  
  4. Mary Steenburgen, Time After Time,1979.   The studio wanted Sally and director  Nicholas Meyer’s first choice was his girlfriend, Shelley Hack. The big joke of The Flying Nun, Sally went on to study with Lee Strasberg and  eventually had top directors (but not their studios) wanting her  – literally in the case of her 1975 Stay Hungry director  Bob Rafelson.
  5. Adrienne King, Friday The 13th, 1980.     Field would not have been so keen if she knew Adrienne’s future… being stalked and terrorized by an obsessive fan after the film’s release. King only agreed to the sequel if her rolewas small, very small.
  6. Barbara Hershey, The Entity, 1980.  Or a more up-market horror film…?  Field, Jill Clayburgh,  Jane Fonda and Bette Midler (!) were listed for poor Clara, pursued by the titular being. “The film you have just seen,” said the credits, “ is a fictionalized account of a true incident which took place in Los Angeles, California, in October 1976. It is considered by psychic researchers to be one of the most extraordinary cases in the history of parapsychology. The real Carla Moran is today living in Texas with her children. The attacks, though decreased in both frequency and intensity… continue.” Bollywood copied it (plus The Shining and Poltergeist) as Hawa, in 2003.
  7. Beverly D’Angelo, Paternity, 1981.    A script about Burt Reynolds wanting a baby but not marriage – oh, so close to his home.
  8. Rachel Ward, Sharkey’s Machine, 1981.     Sally was winning the Oscars he craved, so his girl had flown before this less than jokey slice of Burt Reynolds’ dir-acted cop art.
  9. Sissy Spacek, Raggedy Man, 1981.    Inevitable casting change once Sissy’s art director husband, Jack Fisk, was booked for his helming debut.  Besides, Sally preferred a second Martin  Ritt film, Back Roads – ruined by her  lack of chemistry with  Tommy Lee Jones. Spielberg was more impressed by Sissy’s screen son, Henry Thomas.   He became Elliott in ET.
  10. Meryl Streep, Sophie’s Choice, 1982.    Her lover, Burt Reynolds,put her off buying the rights, by saying she needed more pulpy adventures – like Beyond The Poseidon Adventure!He admitted his error after her Norma Rae, 1979, but refused to accompany her to the Oscars.She won, anyway.  In Norma’s final scene, Sally says: “Reuben, I think you like me!”  Which she echoed the night when she won : “I can’t deny the fact that you like me. Right now, you like me.” 

  11. Jessica Lange, Frances, 1982.      
    Howard Hawks  said  she always seemed to be shining. “More talent than anyone I ever worked with.” She and Vivien Leigh were beaten by Ingrid Bergman to For Whom The Bell Tolls, 1942.   She’s the subject of various books, plays (viz Sally Clarke’s Saint Frances of Hollywood),  pop and rock songs  – French-Canadian singer Mylène Farmer even took her name. All actresses loved her talent and guts (when wrongfully committed to asylums by her parents) and  wanted to ply…  Frances Farmer.  From the sublime to the ridiculous: Meryl Streep to Susan Dey  of TV’s Partridge Family.   Kim Basinger tested with Sam Shepard (Lange’s husband). Undaunted Susan Blakely made her own 1983  TVersion (from Farmer’s book, Will There Really Be A Morning?). Plus Anne Archer, Blythe Danner, Patty Duke, Mia Farrow, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Glenda Jackson, Diane Keaton, Liza Minnelli, Katharine Ross, Susan Sarandon, Cybill Shepherd, Sissy Spacek, Tuesday Weld, Natalie Wood. Plus Constance Money, who met  with  producer  Mel Brooks and debuting director Graeme Clifford. They liked her. Not her CV. Seven porno films in three years.  Even if they used her real name (Sue Jensen), someone would have blown an expensive whistle about her hardcore career.

  12. Charlotte Rampling, The Verdict, 1982.  Sally Field and Julie Christie passed Laura Fischer to Charlotte in the spiffing courtroom (and much else besides) drama, majestically  created by Paul Newman and director Sidney Lumet.  (Sally and Newman had made Absence of Malice in 1980)’

  13. Teri Garr, Mr Mom, 1983.   In his first starring role, Michael Keaton was the sudden house husband. His working wife – Mrs Dad? – was selected from Garr, Karen Allen, Valerie Curtin, Farrah Fawcett and Sally Field.

  14. Demi Moore, No Small Affair, 1984.     Sally started shooting with Matthew Broderick in 1981 when director Martin Ritt collapsed.When Jerry Schatzberg recast the film, Ritt was preparing something else for his Norma RaeMurphy’s Romance.
  15. Glenn Close, Fatal Attraction, 1986.
  16. Cher, Moonstruck, 1987.    Sally was hardly Latin enough for Loretta Castorini in what was originallty titled The Bride and the Wolf.
  17. Kelly McGillis, The Accused, 1988.     Paramount suits saw 40 young actresses for the (real life) gang rape victim. Or, their own rape bait fantasies… such as 16-year-old Alyssa Milano! And a further 27 for her lawyer. Including Fatal Attraction also-rans from Field,  Geena Davis, Goldie Hawn, Barbara Hershey, Tuesday Weld – to Diane Keaton, Meryl Streep and Debra Winger, who were offered both roles. Plus Beverly D’Angelo, Blythe Danner, Carrie Fisher, Teri Garr, Mary Gross, Barbara Hershey, Kathleen Turner, Sigourney Weaver, Dianne Wiest. A 1982 rape victim herself, McGillis refused the lead. She had no wish to revisit the horror and pain of her own assault six years earlier. She had no wish to revisit the horror and pain of her own assault six years earlier. Obviously. However, she agreed to play Sarah’s defence attorney – on condition that the studio-described “unsexy” Jodie, and no one else, played Sarah! The suits caved, tested Foster and the rest is Oscar history… dated March 29, 1989.
  18. Patricia Wettig, City Slickers, 1990.   Facing 40, three Manhattan dudes book into a dude ranch and join a cattle drive and… a perfect comedy!  Billy Crystal stars and helped write it –  and invited Wetting, the thirtysomething TV star, to be Mrs Billy.  Also on his dream wife list were: Bonnie Bedelia, Sally Field, Kate Capshaw, Bridget Fonda, Anjelica Huston.
  19. Geena Davis, A League of Their Own, 1991.   “There’s no crying in baseball…” Long-time ball fan, director Penny Marshall had never heard of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League (1943-1954) until seeing a 1987 PBS documentary. She swiftly contacted the makers to join her Hollywood writers to use their title for a fictional comedy-drama version.  Penny staged baseball tests for about 2,000 actresses – if you can’t play ball, you can’t play the Rockford Peaches!  Geena Davis, Rosie O’Donnell, Lori Petty were best; those turned down included Farrah Fawcett, Lori Singer, Marisa Tomei and Maria Maples (before becoming the second Mrs Donald Trump).  Jim Belushi and Laura Dern were set to star in 1990 when Fox suddenly pulled the plug; Tom Hanks and Geena took over at Columbia.  Also on the plate for the star player Dottie Hinson were Sally, Nicole Kidman, Kelly McGillis, Demi Moore, Ally Sheedy, Brooke Shields, Debra Winger and Sean Young.
  20. Mariel Hemingway, Delirious, 1991.       With the choice of two soap satires, she chose badly and took a bath with Soapdish.
  21. Wendy Crewson, The Santa Clause, 1994.  Scott Calvin aka Santa swept through eight  possibilities (from Harrison Ford to the winning Tim Allen), compared to seven women for his ex, Laura: Crewson, Kate Burton, Patrica Clarkson, Jennifer Grey, Goldie Hawn, Patrica Heaton, Angelica Huston, Nicole Kidman, Mary McDonnell, Pamela Reed, Molly Ringwald, Julia Roberts,  Ally Sheedy… and Sally Field – no way to treat a start who had long since moved on from comedy pap to winning two Best Actress Oscars. Joe Dante, Richard Donner, even Steven Spielberg were Disney’s dream wishes to direct.

  22. Diane Keaton, The First Wives Club, 1996.    Conceived for Sal by producer Sherry Lansing. But thnings change…  Lange was an early thought for Elise Elliot, one of three mid-aged women vowing vengeance on their husbands after being jettisoned for younger models. But director Hugh Wilson had to make do with just five other Oscar-winners: Marcia Gay Harden, Goldie Hawn, Eileen Heckart, Diane Keaton, Maggie Smith. All agreeing with the Goldie line: “In Hollywood, women have only three ages: babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy.”
  23. Donna Murphy, Star Trek: Insurrection, 1998.      When Field passed, supposedly 80 women auditioned for Anij, the Ba’ku woman who to be Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s love interest.. Murphy, a double Tony-winner, was soon the favourite of director (and co-star) Jonathan Frakes. “A great honour,” she said, “because I know that the Star Trek audience has such a devotion to and affection for these richly drawn characters.”
  24. Helen Mirren, Teaching Mrs Tingle, 1998. Gillian Anderson, Sally Field  and Sigourney Weaver must have been stunned to find themselves short-listed in the same company as  eternal rivals Clenn Close and Mertyl Streep  for the  thoroughly nasty history teacher. “Helen Mirren is one of the greatest living actresses,” said auteur Kevin Williamson.  “She elevated Mrs. Tingle to a new level.”  She called it a dream role, because of laying on a bed most days, tied up by her students.
  25. Jenna Elfman, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, 2002.    “A pretty grim experience all around –  longest year and a half of my life.”  Director Joe Dante refusing to say anymore about how his planned tribute to his late friend, toon ikon Chuck Jones, ended up a mess. Then again, when the suits approve Elfman over Sally, Jennifer Aniston, Shannon Elizabeth, Rene Russo and Renée Zellweger as Kate, know you’re in trouble.
  26. Marisa Tomei, Captain America: Civil War, 2015. Tomei was staggered to find that Spider-Man’s Aunt May Parker was so much older in the comics.  At 52, Marisa was the youngest Aunty (not a blood relative of Peter Parker).  One of her previous co-stars, Rosemary Harris, re-crteated the role during 2001-2003, at 74 to 79.  Sally Field then  took, over for the previous two chapters, 2011-2013,  at 65 to 67.  Now she was gone. A new Spidey, meant a new Aunty.







 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Casting Calls:  25