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Sally Field Tells All About Her Gidget Role

Today, Sally Field is a beloved star that commands a great deal of Hollywood respect. However, the actress got her start in a rather unassuming way. Sally Field’s breakout role was playing the character of Gidget on the 1960s televisions series of the same name. Though the show wasn’t a huge success upon it’s initial airing, it gained traction in reruns. In the 1970s, Sally made the transition from the small screen to the big screen, and the rest is history! The actress had no background in entertainment before taking on the role of Gidget outside of a few high-school performances. Join Facts Verse as Sally Field tells all about her Gidget role.

Sally Field Didn’t Know What to Do with Her Life

When Sally Field received the role of Gidget on the 1960s television series of the same name, she was only 18 years old. The burgeoning star had just graduated from high school, and she was unsure of her future. The young woman had acted in several drama productions during her high-school years, and she didn’t have many ambitions when it came to a career. On a whim, she decided to attend an open audition at Columbia Pictures in the hope that she might find a future in the entertainment industry. The studio was looking for a teenage girl to play a character in an upcoming show. As one might have guessed, that show would be Gidget.

According to Sally Field herself, she felt like a fish out of water when she came to Columbia Pictures. The actress found herself amongst a plethora of young women that had much more experience in the acting world than she did. The future star thought about giving it all up and going home, but she persevered. There were said to have been hundreds of young women in attendance at the open audition, and Sally felt as if she had no chance. When it finally came time for her to perform in front of the executives, she was apparently so flustered that she could hardly bring herself to do it.

Despite the fact that Sally Field flubbed her audition, there was something about her presence that won over the studio executives at Columbia Pictures. Sally won the role of Gidget over the hundreds of other girls in attendance at the open audition, and it would lead her on the path to becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest stars! Given that Sally Field received her big role essentially out of nowhere, it was a major transition when she became the lead on a sitcom. The actress went from being an unassuming high-school student with no real ambitions to being a television star!

Sally’s Indifference Came from Childhood Abuse

One of the reasons that Sally Field didn’t have many ambitions as a young adult was because she came from a troubled home. Sally’s mom had aspired to be an actress herself, but wasn’t able to cut it. Sally’s father was out of the picture, and her stepfather allegedly molested her. Sally claims that the darkness of her childhood inspired her to find an outlet in her high-school drama department, which was what led her down the path to becoming a famous actress.

The television series Gidget was very much a product of it’s time. Though the show only lasted for a single season, it proved incredibly influential and became increasingly popular in reruns. The show followed the titular character of Gidget, who was a teenage surfer. The concept for the show actually had real-life origins, as it was based upon a book that was written about an actual teenage surfer who went by the nickname of Gidget! At the time that the show came on the air, there were no options for programs aimed at the teenage demographic. All shows were either aimed at kids or adults. Though Gidget didn’t find immediate success, the show has had a lasting impact on media that can still be seen today!

The teenage surfer that the television series Gidget was based upon was named Kathy Kohner. The book was also named Gidget. In addition to the Sally Field-starring television series, the book Gidget also led to the creation of a series of films. In fact, the character of Gidget graced the big screen several years before the production of the television series. The most notable Gidget film is inarguably the first one, which was released in 1959. The film featured Sandra Dee in the role of Gidget. There would be two more Gidget films before the creation of the television series, and each of these films featured a different actress in the titular role.

Though some might claim that Sandra Dee is the most iconic Gidget, the majority will agree that this is a title that truly belongs to Sally Field. The Gidget television series premiered in 1965 before being cancelled in 1966. It wouldn’t be until the show began airing in reruns that it would finally start garnering a following. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!

Gidget Wasn’t Initially Successful, but It Was Influential

The television series Gidget featured the titular character breaking the fourth wall in every episode to address the audience about said episode’s events. Though this was revolutionary for the time, the concept of a young-adult protagonist breaking the fourth wall in a sitcom has since become a trope. This is just one of many ways that the Gidget television series can be seen as influential. Though the show wasn’t a huge success upon it’s initial airing, it didn’t result in Sally Field being ousted from the entertainment industry. In 1967, the young actress was given the opportunity to head a second sitcom with The Flying Nun. Today, Gidget is much more fondly remembered than The Flying Nun. However, The Flying Nun was actually a much bigger success at the time.

After The Flying Nun came to an end, Sally would flirt with big-screen success over the course of the 1970s before finally attaining it with 1977’s Smokey and the Bandit. The film saw Sally share the screen with Burt Reynolds, who fell in love with her over the course of the picture’s filming.

Burt Reynolds went to his deathbed alleging that Sally Field was the love of his life, but Sally disagreed. Most of the world was smitten with Sally after her performance in Smokey and the Bandit, but it was her work in 1979’s Norma Rae that really proved that the actress had dramatic chops. The film showcased the actress as a single mother tasked with unionizing a mill, and Sally’s performance resulted in her receiving an Academy Award for Best Actress.

Sally Field Had Risen to Superstardom by the 1990s

Sally Field won another Academy Award for Best Actress thanks to 1984’s Places in the Heart. By the 1990s, Sally was considered Hollywood royalty. The actress continued appearing in major hits over the course of the decade, with two of them being Mrs. Doubtfire and Forrest Gump. Mrs. Doubtfire was released in 1993 and starred Robin Williams as a father cross-dressing as a nanny to win his kids back. Sally Field played the mom, and many critics felt that her grounded and naturalistic performance was the glue holding the film’s ridiculous premise together.

Sally Field’s role in Mrs. Doubtfire wasn’t a gigantic one, but it was one that was integral to the success of the film. The same could be said of Sally’s role in 1994’s Forrest Gump. In the film, Sally was cast in the role of the titular character’s mother. Once again, Sally proved to be the backbone of the movie in the eyes of many critics. Forrest Gump is most famously remembered for it’s line about life being like a box of chocolates, which originated form Sally Field’s character.

Sally Field is still working in the entertainment industry today, and two of her most notable recent roles include her turns in the films The Amazing Spider-Man and Lincoln. The casting agent behind The Amazing Spider-Man likely saw Sally in the role of Forrest Gump’s mother and thought that she’d be perfect to play the character of Aunt May in the Spider-Man franchise. Sally played the role of Aunt May to Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, and she reprised the role in the film’s sole sequel. In the current iteration of the Spider-Man franchise, the much younger Marisa Tomei is playing the role. In the biopic Lincoln, which was directed by Steven Spielberg, Sally played the titular president’s wife.

Sally Field Is Still Working Today!

Though Sally Field had her lucrative Spider-Man role stolen away from her by Marisa Tomei, the actress isn’t hurting for work! In 2015, Sally returned to her longtime habit of playing titular characters with the role of Doris in the film Hello, My Name Is Doris. The film was a critical success, though not many people have seen it. In 2018, Sally Field appeared in another critically acclaimed work. This time, it was the Netflix television series Maniac, which also starred Emma Stone and Jonah Hill. In 2020, she appeared on the AMC series Dispatches from Elsewhere. Both series only lasted for one season. Maniac was only intended as a single-season series, while Dispatches from Elsewhere just wasn’t a success. Currently, Sally Field is performing a role on the HBO series Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty. The show premiered in 2022, and it appears as if a second season is on the way. The actress is also set to appear in a handful of films, including one called Spoiler Alert in 2022.

Though the television series Gidget wasn’t initially a major success, it led Sally Field on the path to becoming a superstar. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that the television series Gidget was based upon a real teenage surfer, and that Sally Field received the role of the titular character even though she didn’t have any acting experience? Comment down below!

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