Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic

Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic is a 1975 American psychological drama television film directed by Richard Donner and written by Richard and Esther Shapiro.[1] The film stars Linda Blair as the title character. It also stars Larry Hagman, Verna Bloom, and William Daniels.

Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic
Sarah T - Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic.jpg
Written byRichard and Esther Shapiro
Directed byRichard Donner
ComposerJames Di Pasquale
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
ProducerDavid Levinson
CinematographyGayne Rescher
EditorRichard Bracken
Running time96 minutes
Production companyUniversal Television
Original networkNBC
Original release
  • February 11, 1975 (1975-02-11)


Sarah Travis is a 15-year-old girl dealing with feelings of isolation and inadequacy. Her parents are divorced and she has minimal contact with her unemployed, alcoholic father, Jerry. Sarah lives with her mother JoAnne, and stepfather Matt, neither of whom notice how lonely Sarah is. She feels overshadowed by her sister, Nancy, and wishes to live with her father.

Sarah begins drinking alcohol at her mother's party after becoming uncomfortable with personal questions from the guests. She soon associates happiness with drinking and surprises herself by singing, which everyone at the party appreciates. When Sarah becomes inebriated at the party, her parents wrongly blame her teenage friend, Ken. JoAnne is more concerned with what others think than the welfare of her daughter.

Ken invites Sarah to join him riding his horse Daisy, and Sarah becomes more popular at school. However, her home life continues to be confusing and erratic. JoAnne decides to fire their housekeeper Margaret for raiding the liquor cabinet, but it was actually Sarah who was watering down the scotch after taking illicit drinks.

Sarah starts drinking at school, misses classes and forges notes from her mother. The school counselor tells JoAnne that something is wrong in Sarah's life. The counselor characterizes Sarah as a student with a high I.Q. who once took a diligent approach to her schoolwork. JoAnne resents the counselor's interventions and feels that she is being targeted because of the divorce.

Sarah confesses to Ken that she drinks to make things easier. After Sarah is unable to contact her father by telephone, Sarah passes out from drinking, even though she is babysitting. In a confrontation with Matt and JoAnne, Sarah states that she has been drinking almost daily for two years.

A doctor's visit fails to convince JoAnne that Sarah has a problem. Sarah attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where she meets Bobby, who is even younger than Sarah. What Bobby tells the group resonates with Sarah, and she recognizes herself in what Bobby says, such as the constant lying.

During her family therapy sessions, Sarah expresses a desire for her family to be complete once again and for her parents to stop fighting. When Jerry reveals that he is unable to have full custody of Sarah because of the nature of his job, Sarah once again feels the irresistible urge to drink. She asks a group of rough-looking teenagers to purchase vodka for her, inviting them to do anything to her. They tease her by drinking most of the bottle themselves. After drinking the remaining vodka, she takes Daisy for a ride. Though Ken tries to stop Sarah, she rides the horse into oncoming traffic on a busy street. As a result, Daisy is mortally wounded in an automobile accident, and the police shoot Daisy.

Sarah spends time in a hospital, where she expresses remorse for the way she has acted. She realizes how much she has loved her family and her friends at the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and admits that she is an alcoholic.



Sarah T. – Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic premiered on NBC on February 11, 1975.[1]


  1. ^ a b O'Connor, John J. (February 11, 1975). "TV: Young Alcoholics". The New York Times. Retrieved September 27, 2021.

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