Written by Robert Harling of Natchitoches, “Steel Magnolias” carries on the successful tradition of the hit off-broadway play by the same title. The moving, bittersweet story line centers around six women in a small southern town who comes to terms with life, death and marriage. “Steel Magnolias” offers a most unique blend of comedy and tragedy as stars Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis, and Julia Roberts weave the variety of southern life on film.
The film’s producer, Ray Stark, realized the potential of Harling’s work, and insisted on the best for its development. He proved this by securing an outstanding cast of stars, and by obtaining Herbert Ross as the film’s director. Additionally, he sought a location community that would reflect the endearing qualities of the story’s setting. Without question, the search ended where the story began: Natchitoches, Louisiana, the actual setting of the true life drama depicted in the movie.
The charming qualities of our 275 year old community and its friendly, caring people were a perfect blend for the filming. Throughout Natchitoches, the support that six characters extended to each other through the events in their lives is obvious. Weddings and receptions at elegant homes, fun and frolic at the “Festival of Lights,” and daily exchanges at the beauty shop are just a part of many scenes in this historic community.
Many well-known area locations, including Northwestern State University campus, the riverfront area on Front Street in the National Landmark Historic District, Trinity Episcopal Church, and the Henry Cook Taylor home were chosen for important scenes in the film. In fact, in the summer of 1988, this quiet smooth-running city became a flurry of activity and excitement as production for “Steel Magnolias” took place. Much of the city, and people from all over the region became involved by either acting or watching. Hundreds of local citizens were among those cast to fill the 2,500 parts.
The Henry Cook Taylor home is currently operating as a Bed & Breakfast.
Filming locations for “Steel Magnolias” offer an enjoyable walking/driving tour of Natchitoches.
Steel Magnolias Trailer