Sally Field Describes Sexual Abuse by Stepfather in 'Raw' New Memoir: 'I Felt Helpless'
When Sally Field said her new memoir, In Pieces, would be "incredibly raw, intimate and personal," readers did not expect she would share details of sexual abuse in her own family
The two-time Oscar-winning actress, 71, spoke with the New York Times recently about the revelations of the book, including a shocking allegation about her stepfather, actor and stuntman Jock Mahoney. Field says that when she was 14 years old, he would frequently call her into his bedroom alone.
“I knew,” she wrote in her memoir, according to the NYT. “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.”
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, the NYT reported.
In the interview, and in the book, Field also recounted two other instances of abuse by men in Hollywood. She recalled one instance where she woke up with actor Jimmy Webb “on top of me, grinding away to another melody,” and an audition with director Bob Rafelson, who demanded she kiss him for her part in the 1976 feature Stay Hungry.
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Field told the NYT that she didn’t feel Webb’s behavior was “malicious.” Webb described his relationship with Field to the NYT as full of “respect,” adding that they “dated and did what 22-year-olds did in the late 60s — we hung out, we smoked pot, we had sex.” Rafelson said Field’s story was “totally untrue” and that he “didn’t make anybody kiss me in order to get any part.”
Also addressed in the book is the Norma Rae star’s relationship with the late actor Burt Reynolds. She described it to the outlet as “confusing and complicated, and not without loving and caring, but really complicated and hurtful to me.” Now, Field sees connections between her and Reynold’s romance and the relationship with her stepfather.
“I was somehow exorcising something that needed to be exorcised,” she said. “I was trying to make it work this time.” Reynolds died on Thursday, Sept. 6, at 82 years old, according to manager Erik Kritzer.
In an exclusive interview with PEOPLE in March 2018, Field shared even more details about In Pieces, out Sept. 18 — including the book’s cover, that it would address her complicated relationship with her mother, growing up in the repressive 1950s and starting her acting career at 17.
“I knew I had a story to tell and I knew I had to tell it. It’s taken me a great deal of time to figure out exactly what it was,” Field said. The book took her seven years to write.
“I have this life that no one really knows… or at least I didn’t even know truly,” she added. “This is incredibly raw and intimate and personal. [The memoir includes] things I never thought I wanted to say out loud.”