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Sybil (1976 film)

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Adapted from


Biography, Drama



Sybil (1976 film) movie poster

Release date
November 14 & 15, 1976

Based on
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy - Adaptation

(Dr. Cornelia Wilbur), (Sybil), (Richard), (Hattie),
Jane Hoffman
(Frieda Dorsett), (Dr. Quinoness)

Cybill, A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story, Maude (TV series)

Screenplay by
Stewart Stern

Theme music composer
Leonard Rosenman

Country of origin
United States

Executive producers
Philip Capice, Peter Dunne

Jacqueline Babbin

Production locations
New York City Stage 17, Warner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California

Mario Tosi

Michael S. McLean, Rita Roland

Running time
198 minutes (original television), 133 minutes (theatrical), 187 minutes (DVD)

Production company
Lorimar Productions


Sound mix


1977 sybil s personalities

Sybil is a 1976 two-part, 3¼-hour American television miniseries starring Sally Field and Joanne Woodward. It is based on the book of the same name and was broadcast on NBC on November 14–15, 1976.


Sybil (1976 film) movie scenes



Sybil (1976 film) httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediaen33cSyb

After suffering a small breakdown in front of her students, Sybil Dorsett is given a neurological examination by Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, a psychiatrist. She admits to having blackouts and fears they are getting worse. Dr. Wilbur theorizes that the incidents are a kind of hysteria, all related to a deeper problem. She asks Sybil to return at a later date for more counseling.

Sybil (1976 film) Sybil 1976 film Alchetron The Free Social Encyclopedia

Later that evening, Dr. Wilbur receives a late night call from someone who identifies herself as Vickie and says Sybil is about to jump out a hotel window. Dr. Wilbur rescues Sybil, who denies knowing Vickie. Suddenly, Sybil becomes hysterical and begins speaking like a little girl. This little girl introduces herself as Peggy, and Wilbur realizes that Sybil is suffering from dissociative identity disorder.

Sybil (1976 film) Presentation Name

Vickie introduces herself to Wilbur at the next session. Vickie, who knows everything about the other personalities, tells Wilbur about some of them, including Marcia, who is suicidal and wants to kill Sybil, and Vanessa, who plays the piano although Sybil has not played in years and swears she forgot how to play piano.

Sybil (1976 film) Sybil 1976 starring Joanne Woodward Sally Field Brad Davis

Over the weeks, each of the personalities introduce themselves to Wilbur. At the same time, the personality Vanessa falls in love with a charming neighbor named Richard.

Sybil (1976 film) Sybil YouTube

Wilbur finally explains to Sybil about the other personalities. As proof, Wilbur plays the session's tape to allow Sybil to hear their voices, but when a voice that sounds like Sybil's mother Hattie speaks, an infant personality named Ruthie emerges. Wilbur is unable to communicate with the pre-verbal child and must wait until Sybil returns.

Life becomes more chaotic for Sybil as the other personalities grow stronger. The personalities make Dr. Wilbur a Christmas card, but Sybil made everything purple, a color that frightens Peggy. Dr. Wilbur hypnotizes Vickie and asks about the purple. Vickie relates a memory of a time Sybil's mother locked young Sybil in the wheat bin in the barn. Thinking she was smothering, Sybil used her purple crayon to scratch on the inside of the bin so someone would know she had been there.

Vanessa invites Richard and his son Matthew to have Christmas dinner, after which Richard spends the night in Sybil's apartment. Sybil has a nightmare and awakens as Marcia, who tries to throw herself off the roof. Richard rescues her and calls Wilbur. Soon afterwards, Richard moves away, crushing both Sybil and Vanessa. Once again confronted with her diagnosis, Sybil attempts to convince Wilbur that she has in fact been faking all of the other personalities the entire time and denies that multiple personalities exist within her.

Wilbur goes in search of Sybil's father, who mentions that Sybil's mother Hattie was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, but denies that she ever abused Sybil. Wilbur also seeks out Sybil's paediatrician. The doctor gives Wilbur a frightening account of extensive scarring he found while treating Sybil for a bladder problem. Finally, Wilbur visits the old Dorsett house, where she discovers the green kitchen Sybil's selves have described many times. She also finds the purple crayon scratches inside the wheat bin. She takes them back to New York City to prove all the memories really happened.

Dr. Wilbur takes Sybil for a drive, during which Peggy reveals the horrific physical and sexual abuse she suffered at her mother's hands. After Peggy exhausts herself, Sybil emerges, remembering everything that Peggy has just said. Finally, she is able to express her rage against her mother.

Dr. Wilbur hypnotizes Sybil to introduce her to the other personalities. Sybil, who has always been frightened of Peggy, meets her at last and is surprised that she is only a little girl. Sybil embraces a weeping Peggy. A voiceover from Dr. Wilbur explains that after this incident, Sybil recovered her memories and went on to live a full and happy life.

The Selves

  • Peggy: A nine-year-old girl who believes she is still in the small town in which Sybil grew up. Peggy holds the rage Sybil felt at her mother's abuse and frequently expresses her anger through temper tantrums and breaking glass. Like many of the selves, she enjoys drawing and painting. She fears hands, dishtowels, music, and the colors green and purple, all triggers to specific instances of abuse.
  • Vicky: A very sophisticated and mature twelve-year-old girl who is aware of all the other personalities and knows everything the others do, though Sybil does not. Vicky speaks French and claims to have grown up in Paris with many brothers and sisters and loving parents. The dominant personality and the only personality to undergo hypnosis.
  • Vanessa: A young, vibrant, red-haired girl about twelve years old, she is outgoing and full of "joie de vivre". Falls in love with Richard and helps Sybil build a relationship with him, until he moves away.
  • Marcia: A young girl obsessed with thoughts of death and suicide, who tries to kill herself (and thus Sybil) on several occasions. Dresses in black.
  • Ruthie: A preverbal infant. When Sybil is extremely frightened, she regresses into Ruthie and cannot move or speak.
  • Mary: Named for and strongly resembles Sybil's grandmother. When Sybil's grandmother (the only person Sybil felt loved her) died, Sybil was so bereft that she created Mary as an internalized version of Grandma. Mary speaks in the voice of an old woman and frequently behaves as one.
  • Nancy: A product of Sybil's father's religious fanaticism, Nancy fears the end of the world and God's punishment.
  • Clara: Around 8–9 years old. Very religious; critical and resentful of Sybil.
  • Helen: Around 13–14 years old. Timid and afraid, but determined "to be somebody".
  • Marjorie: Around 10–11 years old. Serene and quick to laugh, enjoys parties and travel.
  • Sybil Ann: Around 5–6 years old. Pale, timid, and extremely lethargic; the defeated Sybil.
  • Mike: A brash young boy who likes to build and do carpentry. He builds bookshelves and a partition wall for Sybil's apartment, frightening her badly when she doesn't know how they got there. He and Sid both believe that they will grow penises and be able "to give a girl a baby" when they're older.
  • Sid: Younger and a little more taciturn than Mike, he also enjoys building things, as well as sports. Identifies strongly with Sybil's father and wants to be like him when he grows up.
  • Production

    Sally Field stars in the title role, with Joanne Woodward playing the part of Sybil's psychiatrist, Cornelia B. Wilbur. Woodward herself had starred in The Three Faces of Eve, in which she portrayed a woman with three personalities, winning the Academy Award for Best Actress for the role. The film, inspired by Flora Rheta Schreiber's book "Sybil," portrays the life of a reserved young graduate student, Sybil Dorsett (based on Shirley Ardell Mason in reality), who experiences dissociative identity disorder stemming from childhood psychological trauma. Assisted by her psychiatrist, Sybil slowly uncovers the severe abuse she endured as a child, which resulted in the emergence of 16 distinct personalities. The portrayal of Sybil by Field received widespread praise and earned her an Emmy Award.

    Edited and unedited versions

    The film, originally 198 minutes long, was initially shown over the course of two nights on NBC in 1976. Due to high public interest, the VHS version of Sybil was released in the 1980s, with one version running 122 minutes and another, extended version running 132 minutes. Several key scenes, including Sybil's final climactic "introduction" to her other personalities, are missing in both versions. The film is shown frequently on television, often with scenes restored or deleted to adjust for time constraints and the varying sensitivity of viewers. The DVD includes the full 198-minute version originally displayed on the NBC broadcast.


    29th Primetime Emmy Awards (1977)
    Sally Field for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama or Comedy SpecialLeonard Rosenmann, Alan and Marilyn Bergmann for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Special (Dramatic Underscore)Jacqueline Babbin, et al., for Outstanding Special - Drama or ComedyStewart Stern for Outstanding Writing in a Special Program - Drama or Comedy - Adaptation
    Peabody Award (1976)
    NBC-TV for "a truly outstanding dramatic program".

    Sybil 1976 film clip


    Sybil (1976 film) Wikipedia
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