Steel Magnolias is a 1989 American comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross and starring Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Daryl Hannah, Olympia Dukakis and Julia Roberts. The picture is a film adaptation of Robert Harling's 1987 play of the same name about the bond a group of women share in a small-town southern community, and how they cope with the death of one of their own. The supporting cast features Tom Skerritt, Dylan McDermott, Sam Shepard and Kevin J. O'Connor.
Writer Robert Harling based the story in part on his sister, Susan Harling Robinson. She died in 1985 of complications from Type 1 diabetes. In the film, Julia Roberts plays Shelby, the character based on Susan.
The title suggests the main female characters can be both as delicate as the magnolia flower, and as tough as steel.