Hello, Dolly, Shirley, Sally, Daryl, Olympia and Julia! It’s so nice to have you back where you belong—together, in each other’s famous arms, kissing, hugging, dancing, heaping goopy praise on one another. True, Joan and Bette would have balked at your egregious display of sisterhood—but surely they would have understood the motive. From the klieg-lighted moment you arrived at New York City’s Ziegfeld Theater—simultaneously in a fleet of white limos—you proved movie queens can be pals on premiere night. After the unspooling of your film, Steel Magnolias, you headed to the Hilton Hotel to dance and party the night away. “I’ve never worked on a film where I formed such fast, long-lasting friendships,” stated Shirley MacLaine, echoing the sentiments of all who star in this movie about Southern women who congregate at a beauty parlor. “I mean, we still check in with each other, how our love lives are going, how our kids are, what scripts we’ve read and how we’re feeling about Nicaragua.”
For this glittery occasion, which raised $560,000 dollars for the Iacocca Foundation for Diabetes Research, talk of contras was tabled. A dance line took precedence, featuring MacLaine, Sally Field, Olympia Dukakis, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts. The stars then segued into a euphoric Fiddler on the Roof-like production number. Holding red handkerchiefs over their heads, Roberts and MacLaine boogied to Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart.”
Said playwright Robert Hading, who based Steel Magnolias on his Louisiana family: “During shooting they’d all come over to the house. Mom would cook them fried catfish dinners.” How did Robert’s father, who flew in for the premiere, feel passing the okra to such stellar guests? “They’re a fine bunch of people,” said the elder Robert. No one would argue otherwise, least of all them.