Sally Field has complicated feelings about the man who terrorized her, says Oprah Winfrey in O. Her late stepfather was a burly stuntman and small-time actor named Jock Mahoney who, Field says, often berated her and threatened violence, and once threw her across the yard. “He was really big and handsome—I was both terrified of him and madly in love with him,” Field says. “My stepfather was both cruel and loving, and therefore our relationship was very confusing.” Mostly, she feared him. “There was always the threat of violence in the air, and a few times it turned physical. I never felt safe.” Yet Field remains grateful to him, because, she says, he taught her to fight back and express herself, something her passive mother never imparted to her. “In some ways, he saved my life,” she says. “When I was 14 or 15, I would literally stand on the coffee table to look this 6-foot-5 man in the face and scream at him. I couldn’t swallow my feelings, or something in me would have died. I fought for everybody else in the family, too.” Field suspects the relationship wound up affecting her taste in men. “As I grew up,” she says, “I was attracted only to men simultaneously feared and loved.”
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