A young beautician, newly arrived in a small Louisiana town, finds work at the local salon, where a small group of women share a close bond of friendship and welcome her into the fold.
It is the image of a small, blonde-haired all-American boy beaming in the Easter sunshine that flashes up at the end of Hollywood classic Steel Magnolias – and stays with you long after the credits have rolled.
As writer Robert Harling explains, many new fans will not even know that the movie is rooted in truth and that boy is, in fact, based on his real-life nephew and namesake.
Softly spoken and with a Southern accent that still hints at his Louisiana upbringing, Robert Harling wrote the play Steel Magnolias shortly after the death of his beloved sister Susan Robinson aged just 33 in 1985.
Susan left behind her husband Dr Pat Robinson and their two-year-old son Robert after years of battling diabetes, and amid the waves of his grief, Robert, then an actor, put pen to paper at the urging of close friends and wrote all about the town of Natchitoches, where his mother Margaret ruled the roost and the women ‘spoke in bumper stickers’.
This movie put Julia Roberts on the map and earned her an Oscar nomination, but Sally Field steals the show and there are many other memorable performances