Robert Harling's Steel Magnolias was initially written as an off-Broadway play as a way to grieve his sister's premature death and give her son a way to feel connected to her life that he was never able to see. But when Hollywood came calling, they knew that not only did they have a box office hit on their hands, but also a story that would touch millions over the years.
Director Herbert Ross did an incredible job in telling the story of the group of women at a beauty parlor in small-town Louisiana. The close-knit community is there for each other when they lose one of their own and deal with the circle of life together.
Decades after the film was released in 1989, here's what the cast is up to.
1. Truvy Jones- Dolly Parton
No one else could have played town gossip Truvy Jones other than country queen Dolly Parton. Truvy owns the local beauty salon and is married to (the sometimes employed) Spud Jones. She is a good friend to M'Lynn and takes a chance to hire Annelle when she needs help the most.
Parton has continued acting over the years appearing in Wild Texas Wind, Unlikely Angel, Blue Valley Songbird and more. She has also become a producer and has her own Netflix series, Dolly Parton's Heartstrings. And let's not forget about her legendary music career, which speaks for itself.
2. Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie- Julia Roberts
Shelby was based on Robert Harling's real sister, Susan Harling Robinson, who passed away from complications due to her type 1 diabetes. Julia Roberts was only 22 years old when the film was released and went on to become one of the biggest stars of the '90s.
Roberts received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for playing Shelby and went on to win Best Actress in 2000 for Erin Brockovich. She has also starred in countless films that have become classics including Pretty Woman, Notting Hill, My Best Friend's Wedding, Ocean's Eleven and Mona Lisa Smile. She's been married to Daniel Moder since 2002 and they have three children together.
3. M'Lynn Eatenton- Sally Field
Shelby's mother M'Lynn is incredibly upset with Shelby's decision to have a child due to all of her health complications. Sally Field does a wonderful job playing a mother who has unconditional love for her daughter and is completely devastated by her passing.
Field went on to star in Mrs. Doubtfire, Forrest Gump, the TV show Brothers & Sisters, Lincoln and The Amazing Spider-Man. She even hit Broadway in New York City and was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in The Glass Menagerie.
4. Ouiser Boudreaux- Shirley Maclaine
Does anyone play a grumpy old lady better than Shirley Maclaine? Louisa "Ouiser" is definitely a spitfire and her relationship with her best friend Clairee brings a lot of laughs during the film. Steel Magnolias came after Maclaine had already had a legendary career in Hollywood. She went on to appear in Postcards from the Edge, Bewitched, In Her Shoes, Bernie and Noelle. Did you know she's also Warren Beatty's sister?
5. Clairee Belcher- Olympia Dukakis
Former first lady of the town Clairee Belcher is the perfect complement to her grouchy friend Ouiser and a great friend to the Eatenton family. A few years prior to the film, Dukakis had won an Academy Award for her role in Moonstruck. She went on to appear in Look Who's Talking Too, Mighty Aphrodite, Mr. Holland's Opus and more. She was also the subject of a 2019 documentary, Olympia.
Dukakis passed away on May 1, 2021 at the age of 89.
6. Annelle Dupuy-DeSoto - Daryl Hannah
When Annelle first comes to town she's trying to move on from her husband who took everything they owned and left her in the dust. She comes into her own with a little help from Truvy and the girls and ends up finding a new love interest in Sammy DeSoto.
Hannah has had an incredibly interesting career and has played all kinds of characters. She has since appeared in A Walk to Remember, Kill Bill, the Netflix series Sense8 and more. She's been married to musician Neil Young since 2018.
7. Drum Eatenton - Tom Skerritt
Tom Skerritt was the perfect choice to play Drum Eatenton. He seamlessly played the role of Shelby's proud father and M'Lynn's supportive husband despite all of the turmoil their family faces with Shelby's illness. He also brings in some laughs with his comedic interactions with his "nemesis" Ouiser. Skerritt went on to appear in The Rookie, A River Runs Through It, Redemption Road and his co-star Field's TV show Brothers & Sisters.
8. Spud Jones - Sam Shepard
Sam Shepard not only had a legendary career as an actor, but he was a prominent playwright as well. He appeared in numerous more films including August: Osage County, Charlotte's Web, The Notebook, All the Pretty Horses and The Pelican Brief. He was with Oscar winner Jessica Lange for 27 years and they had two children together. Shepard passed away in 2017 from ALS.
9. Jackson Latcherie - Dylan McDermott
Young Jackson is incredibly in love with Shelby when they marry at the beginning of the film and gets along well with her parents and two brothers, Tommy (Knowl Johnson) and Jonathan Eatenton (Jonathan Ward). He's also a great husband and father to his son with Shelby, Jack Jr (Daniel Camp). This was one of McDermott's earliest film roles that turned into a booming career.
McDermott was a lead in the TV series The Practice and has appeared in a number of films including Miracle on 34th Street, Texas Rangers, Runaway Jury, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the upcoming King Richard.
This article was originally published in October of 2020. It was updated on May 3, 2021.
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