Sally Field Lied to Johnny Carson to Get Out of Dating Him

Veteran actor Sally Field and late TV icon Johnny Carson had a bit of a thing back in the day — but it sounds like the heat was one-sided in this celebrity relationship. Years after Carson’s 2005 death, Field disclosed she lied to The Tonight Show host to get out of her future dates with him. When did sparks start flying — or not — between Carson and Field? And what did she say to deter his interest?

Sally Field and Johnny Carson on 'The Tonight Show' c. 1979
Sally Field and Johnny Carson c. 1979 | Gene Arias/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal/Getty Images

Sally Field went on some dates with Johnny Carson after her split from Burt Reynolds 

According to a People cover story from October of 1984, Field and Carson had already spent some time together. They wrote, “Field’s dates over the last few years have included Johnny Carson,” but noted that Field said, “I don’t think I was conscious of it, but my vibrations were ‘Just leave me alone.’’”

This seemingly happened around the time Carson’s third wife, Joanna Holland, filed for divorce in 1983. Notably, Field’s five-year relationship with actor Burt Reynolds ended around the same time. By the time the People story came out in 1984, Field was dating her second husband, producer Alan Greisman. They divorced after nine years.

Sally Field compared relationship with Johnny Carson to ‘the octopus and the reluctant little guppy’

During a game of “Plead the Fifth” on Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen brought up Johnny Carson. He asked Field to describe her relationship with the late-night host, and she hesitantly said, “The octopus and the reluctant little guppy.”

While she explained she thought he had a “wonderful” personality, she was still “reluctant” to be in a relationship with him. But she admitted they went on more than one date. “I was never a person who knew how to say no to people,” Field confessed. “Ultimately the only way I could get out of many things was to tell people I had lost my mind.”

Apparently, the tactic was her go-to for a gentle let-down. She said she thought it was Carson she told “[she] was having a breakdown and being sent away.” She told Cohen, “I couldn’t figure out how just to say I really am just not into this. I just said, ‘I’m so sorry. I have to go away. They’re putting me in a home.'”

Sally Field on ‘The View’: ‘I never was totally with’ Johnny Carson

While visiting The View, Field cleared up that she wasn’t in a relationship with Carson and therefore didn’t technically break up with him. “I never was totally with him,” she clarified. “That was where he was going, and I was not.”

She told her hosts that she felt bad talking about it, but Joy Behar encouraged her to spill the tea. So, Field again admitted that she lied to get out of seeing Carson while he pursued her enthusiastically. At one point she asked, “How do you say no?”

But she said in retrospect, she could have handled it differently. “I have trouble with, ‘No, I’m simply not where you are and I really think you’re the world’s most wonderful person,’” she explained. “I had to go right to, ‘I’m being institutionalized.’”

In the end, she said the tactic worked. For his part, Carson married his fourth wife in 1987 and remained with her for 18 years until his death.

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