Betty Field (February 8, 1916[1] – September 13, 1973) was an American film and stage actress.

Betty Field
Betty Field CM242.jpg
Field in 1942
Born(1916-02-08)February 8, 1916
DiedSeptember 13, 1973(1973-09-13) (aged 57)
Years active1934–71
Elmer Rice
(m. 1942; div. 1956)

Edwin J. Lukas
(m. 1957; div. 1967)

Raymond Olivere
(m. 1968)

Early yearsEdit

Field was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to George and Katharine (née Lynch) Field.[2] She began acting before she reached age 15, and went into stock theater immediately after graduating from high school.[3] She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.[4]

Producer/director George Abbott is credited with having discovered Field.[5]


Field began her acting career in 1934 on the London stage[4] in Howard Lindsay's farce She Loves Me Not. Following its run, she returned to the United States, and appeared in several stage successes, then made her film debut in 1939.

Field's Broadway credits include Page Miss Glory (1934), Room Service (1937), Angel Island (1937), If I Were You (1938), What a Life (1938), The Primrose (1939), Ring Two (1939), Two on an Island (1940), Flight to the West (1940), A New Life (1943), The Voice of the Turtle (1943), Dream Girl (1945), The Rat Race (1949), Not for Children (1951), The Fourposter (1951), The Ladies of the Corridor (1953), Festival (1955), The Waltz of the Toreadors (1958), A Touch of the Poet (1958), A Loss of Roses (1959), Strange Interlude (1963), Where's Daddy? (1966), and All Over (1971).[6]

Her final stage performances were in three productions at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in 1971.[4]


Field in a scene from Bus Stop (1956)

Field had to overcome obstacles early in her film career. A 1942 newspaper article reported:

When Betty Field was first signed for pictures, conversation buzzed. "But she's not pretty," was the first objection. "And her mouth is too large."[7]

Field's role as Curly's wife, Mae, the sole female character in Of Mice and Men (1939) established her as a dramatic actress.[8] She starred opposite John Wayne in the 1941 movie The Shepherd of the Hills. Field played a supporting, yet significant role as Cassandra Tower in Kings Row (1942).

A life member of The Actors Studio,[9] Field preferred performing on Broadway and appeared in Elmer Rice's Dream Girl and Jean Anouilh's The Waltz of the Toreadors, but returned to Hollywood regularly, appearing in Flesh and Fantasy (1943), The Southerner (1945), as Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby (1949) with Alan Ladd, Picnic (1955) with William Holden and Kim Novak, Bus Stop (1956) with Marilyn Monroe, Peyton Place (1957) (for which she was nominated for a Laurel Award), Hound-Dog Man (1959) with Carol Lynley and Stuart Whitman, Butterfield 8 (1960) with Elizabeth Taylor, Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) with Burt Lancaster, 7 Women (1966) with Anne Bancroft and How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life (1968) with Dean Martin and Stella Stevens. Her final film role was in Coogan's Bluff with Clint Eastwood and Susan Clark in 1968.

TV and radioEdit

Field made many guest appearances on series television including Route 66, The Untouchables, General Electric Theater, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dr. Kildare, Ben Casey, The Defenders and several others. Field portrayed Mary Aldrich on the radio series The Aldrich Family. On radio, she also appeared on Old Gold Comedy Theater, Studio One and Suspense. [10]

Personal lifeEdit

Her first marriage to playwright Elmer Rice ended in divorce in May 1956.[11] The couple had three children, John, Paul, and Judith. John became a lawyer, but he died in a swimming accident at age 40. Her second marriage to Edwin J. Lukas lasted from 1957 to 1967. Her third marriage to Raymond Olivere lasted from 1968 until her death in 1973. [12]

Field died from a cerebral hemorrhage on September 13, 1973, at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis, Massachusetts,[4] aged 57. (Another source says she was 55.)[4]


Year Title Role Notes
1939 What a Life Barbara Pearson
Of Mice and Men Mae Jackson
1940 Seventeen Lola Pratt
Victory Alma
1941 The Shepherd of the Hills Sammy Lane
Blues in the Night Kay Grant
1942 Kings Row Cassandra Tower
Are Husbands Necessary? Mary Elizabeth Cugat
1943 Flesh and Fantasy Henrietta (Episode 1)
1944 The Great Moment Elizabeth Morton
Tomorrow, the World! Leona Richards
1945 The Southerner Nona Tucker
1949 The Great Gatsby Daisy Buchanan
1955 Picnic Flo Owens
1956 Bus Stop Grace
1957 Peyton Place Nellie Cross
1959 Hound-Dog Man Cora McKinney
1960 Butterfield 8 Fanny Thurber
1962 Birdman of Alcatraz Stella Johnson
1966 7 Women Florrie Pether
1968 How to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life Thelma
Coogan's Bluff Ellen Ringerman


  1. ^ Massachusetts State Vital Records. Births 1916. Vol. 1. FamilySearch (registration required)
  2. ^ GREAT STARS OF THE AMERICAN STAGE by Daniel Blum c.1952 Profile #130
  3. ^ West, Alice Pardoe (December 13, 1936). "Chief Ambition of Betty Is to Be Great Actress". The Ogden Standard-Examiner. Utah, Ogden. p. 23. Retrieved May 21, 2016 – via  
  4. ^ a b c d e "Actress Betty Field Dies In a Cape Cod Hospital". The Bridgeport Post. Connecticut, Bridgeport. Associated Press. September 15, 1973. p. 24. Retrieved May 20, 2016 – via  
  5. ^ "Film Star, on Vacation, to Appear at New Hope". The Bristol Daily Courier. Pennsylvania, Bristol. July 23, 1940. p. 3. Retrieved May 20, 2016 – via  
  6. ^ "Betty Field: Roles". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 21 May 2016.
  7. ^ Lowrance, Dee (February 22, 1942). "Features". The Salt Lake Tribune. Utah, Salt Lake City. p. 43. Retrieved May 20, 2016 – via  
  8. ^ "Aided by Unsympathetic Roles". The Ottawa Journal. Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. February 26, 1944. p. 18. Retrieved May 20, 2016 – via  
  9. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 280. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  10. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4. P. 19.
  11. ^ "Names in the News". Ogden Standard-Examiner. Utah, Ogden. March 21, 1957. p. 1. Retrieved May 20, 2016 – via  
  12. ^ Hudson, Edward (1973-09-15). "Betty Field, Actress, Is Dead at 55". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-03-18.

External linksEdit