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A Woman of Independent Means 

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Bess Steed marries her childhood sweetheart in the early part of the 20th century and begins a life in the high society of Dallas, Texas. As time goes by, things do not work out as she ... See full summary »




Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Series cast summary:
Sheila McCarthy ...  Totsie 3 episodes, 1995
Ann Hearn ...  Lydia 3 episodes, 1995
Andrea Roth ...  Eleanor, as an adult 3 episodes, 1995
Andrew Lowery Andrew Lowery ...  Drew, as an adult 3 episodes, 1995
Brenda Fricker ...  Mother Steed 3 episodes, 1995
Charles Durning ...  Andrew Alcott 3 episodes, 1995
Joshua Miller Joshua Miller 3 episodes, 1995
Lawrence Monoson ...  Walter Burton 3 episodes, 1995
Christianne Mays Christianne Mays ...  Annie 3 episodes, 1995
Julie Mayfield Julie Mayfield ...  Mavis 3 episodes, 1995
Randy Moore Randy Moore ...  Manning 3 episodes, 1995
Brooke Hailey Brooke Hailey ...  Betsy 3 episodes, 1995
Mark Walters Mark Walters ...  Matthew 3 episodes, 1995
Cynthia Dorn Cynthia Dorn ...  Marthareen 3 episodes, 1995
Richard Dillard Richard Dillard ...  Richard Prince 3 episodes, 1995
Jill Parker-Jones Jill Parker-Jones ...  Exa Banks 3 episodes, 1995
John S. Davies ...  Howard Blackstone 3 episodes, 1995
Christina Stojanovich Christina Stojanovich ...  Eleanor #1 3 episodes, 1995
Cameron Finley ...  Drew #1 3 episodes, 1995
Trevor Meeks Trevor Meeks ...  Robin #1 3 episodes, 1995
Emmy Barker Emmy Barker ...  Eleanor #2 3 episodes, 1995
Christopher Fox ...  Drew #2 3 episodes, 1995
Matthew Loehr Matthew Loehr ...  Robin #2 3 episodes, 1995
Marietta Marich Marietta Marich ...  Mama 3 episodes, 1995
Rutherford Cravens ...  Marvin Hamilton 3 episodes, 1995
Margaret Bowman ...  Old Nanny 3 episodes, 1995
Emily Courtney Emily Courtney ...  Nell 3 episodes, 1995
Malachi Melville Malachi Melville ...  Young Nurse 3 episodes, 1995
Kristin Birch Kristin Birch ...  Hotel Maid 3 episodes, 1995
Donald Lawson Donald Lawson ...  Newspaper Editor 3 episodes, 1995
Jessica Drake Jessica Drake ...  Pregnant Woman 3 episodes, 1995
Pam Dougherty ...  Second Jessamine Sister 3 episodes, 1995
Gena Sleete Gena Sleete ...  Mrs. Maxwell 3 episodes, 1995
Cliff Stephens Cliff Stephens ...  Car Salesman 3 episodes, 1995
Jimmy Ray Pickens ...  St. Louis Bellhop 3 episodes, 1995
Angie Bolling ...  Mrs. Fleck 3 episodes, 1995
Morgan Redmond Morgan Redmond ...  Man in English Garden 3 episodes, 1995
Rodger Boyce ...  Eleanor's Doctor 3 episodes, 1995
Sally Field ...  Bess Alcott Steed Garner 3 episodes, 1995
Tony Goldwyn ...  Robert Steed 3 episodes, 1995
Ron Silver ...  Arthur 3 episodes, 1995
Jack Thompson ...  Sam Garner 3 episodes, 1995


Bess Steed marries her childhood sweetheart in the early part of the 20th century and begins a life in the high society of Dallas, Texas. As time goes by, things do not work out as she expects. Her husband dies of influenza, and she finds that she must pick up and carry along with her life. She proves to be a strong, commited, and loving individual who attracts new loves into her life and finds that she can take good care of the old ones. Despite further tragedy in losing her oldest son, and a second marriage that is not all that she expects it to be she continues to survive as independently as she has discovered the courage to do so. Written by CD

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild language and thematic elements






Release Date:

19 February 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Woman of Independent Means See more »

Filming Locations:

Galveston, Texas, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The role of Totsie was originally set to be Bernadette Peters, with a change made shortly before filming began. See more »


The main character has three children: two boys, Robin and Drew, and then a daughter, Eleanor. As the children grow older the daughter seems to become the middle child and Drew the youngest. See more »


Featured in The 47th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Not to be Taken Lightly
8 September 2001 | by suessisSee all my reviews

When I first started watching this mini I was afraid that it might be about something along the lines of Danielle Steele or Barbara Taylor Bradford soap. However, I was pleasantly surprised that this was not at all like that. Bradford had a book (and another mini) titled a "A Woman of Substance". That would have been a good alternate title for this production.

The character of Bess is strong, determined individual that does makes a difference in the lives of so many and is loved by so many. There is also more to this story than just her love affairs and her business interests. It is a look at the nature of women and the strength that they possess and how in the 20th century they learned to use it.

Sally Field does a wonderful job in the mini and deserves praise for the depth of emotion that she portrays. When I watch her performance I forget about her years as the Flying Nun and Gidget and even forget any preconceived notions that I might have of her. She is Bess Steed.

The script has its moments of being a little cheesy, but the actors make the most of it. I was impressed with the performance of Brenda Fricker as Mother Steed and enjoyed the performances of Jack Thompson and Anne Heard. I this is a wonderful production that deserves a look.

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