‘In Pieces’

Sally Field recalls sexual abuse by her stepfather, and her ‘complicated’ relationship with Burt Reynolds

Sally Field arrives at the 'Lincoln' premiere during AFI Fest 2012 presented by Audi at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on November 8, 2012 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

In a new memoir, In Pieces, actress Sally Field, 71, opened up about being sexually abused by her stepfather and others, her “really complicated and hurtful” relationship with the late Burt Reynolds, and about her never-ending quest for self-validation as an actress. When she was 7 years old, she wrote, her mother, Margaret Field, began asking her to go walk on the back of her father, the stuntman and B-movie actor Jock “Jocko” Mahoney. Mahoney, she said, would lie face down naked in the sheets, until he turned over onto his back.

“One foot in front of the other, up his chest I tiptoed, my nightgown hanging loose as his hands slid over my legs, then moved up. I’d turn my feet around, walking toward his stomach to be out of reach, and he’d whisper instructions, ‘Lower, lower’ … I walked on this much-loved non-father of mine, carefully trying to avoid where he was aiming my feet,” Field recalled.

Mahoney, she added, never physically violated her body — a reality for which she was thankful.

“He loved me enough not to invade me. He never invaded me. In all the many times. Not really. It would have been one thing if he had held me down and raped me. Made me bleed. But he didn’t. Was that love? Was that because he loved me?” she asks in the book.

Despite winning her second Oscar for 1984’s Places in the Heart, Field said she never saw herself “as being an important, highly sought-after talent.” It wasn’t until her appearance in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln alongside Daniel Day-Lewis, she admitted, that she finally felt she had crafted a performance of which she could truly be proud.

The memoir also detailed how Field, then 17, underwent an abortion in Tijuana, Mexico, only to wake up to the anesthesiologist groping her breast. Fresh off the procedure, she then having to fight him off of her. Another assault, she said, occured when she was 21 after smoking hash with songwriter Jimmy Webb. The drug left her half-conscious, and at one point she awoke to find Webb grinding himself on top of her. Her famous relationship with Reynolds, she said, was complicated by his attempts to control her and prevent her from pursuing her career as an actress — but was punctuated by “real and lasting” moments of joy and happiness.

Below, watch video of Field discussing her memoir with Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America.

Read the full story at USA Today.

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