Steel Magnolias


1h 58m 1989
Steel Magnolias

Brief Synopsis

Small-town Southern women help each other through the trials of life.

Film Details

Also Known As
Blommor av stål, Fiori d'acciaio, Magnolias de acero, Potins de femmes
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Medical
Adaptation
Release Date
1989
Distribution Company
TriStar Pictures
Location
Northwestern State University, Louisiana, USA; Natchitoches, Louisiana, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 58m

Synopsis

Based on a true incident of screenwriter Harling's mother and sister, the story is set in a small-town beauty shop near New Orleans and spans several years in the lives of the shop's owner and her customers.

Crew

John Alonzo

Director Of Photography

John Alonzo

Dp/Cinematographer

Dr. Robert Alost

Assistant

Jean Arceneaux

Song

Dee Dee Bail

Assistant

Louis Barlia

Camera Operator

Frawley Becker

Location Manager

Barry Bedig

Property Master

Tom Bellfort

Sound Editor

Felix Bernard

Song

Jerry Bertolami

Dolly Grip

Annette Bianco

Hair

David Blair

Hair

Hub Braden

Art Director

Marsha Brown

Song

Marsha Brown

Song Performer

Stacy Brownrigg

Boom Operator

Neal Burger

Sound Editor

Colleen Callaghan

Hair

Gene Callahan

Production Designer

Marlene Canfield

Production Assistant

Daniel Allen Carlin

Music Editor

Ralph Chabaud

Visual Effects

Patsy Chaney

Costumes

Stan Cockerell

Property Master Assistant

George M. Cohan

Song

Dannie Collins

Other

Ry Cooder

Song

Ry Cooder

Song Performer

Douglas S. Cramer

Production Assistant

Hallie D'amore

Makeup

Bill Dance

Casting

Robert Deblieux

Location Assistant

Georges Delerue

Music

David Dresher

Assistant Editor

Holly Dunn

Song Performer

Holly Dunn

Song

Martha Elcan

Assistant Director

Robert E. Engelman

Assistant Director

James Etheridge

Camera Operator

Kenneth Fowler

Projectionist

Leigh French

Adr

Tommy Funderburk

Song Performer

Robert J Garren

Other

Scott Gershin

Sound Editor

Laura Gibson

Production Coordinator

Joe Gilbert

Adr Editor

Stan Gilbert

Adr Editor

Karen Gordon

Production Accountant

Larry Greenberg

Production Assistant

Robert Harling

Screenplay

Robert Harling

Play As Source Material

Cheryl Harris

Animal Trainer

Kevin Harris

Special Effects Coordinator

Travis Harrison

Production Assistant

Spencer Henderson

Choreographer

Ellen Heuer

Foley Artist

Paul Hirsch

Editor

Joann Hutchinson

Costumes

Roger Irvin

Construction Coordinator

George Jackson

Song

Jerry Jackson

Transportation Coordinator

Tom Jones

Song

Brenda Kalosh

Assistant Director

Lawrence J Kemp

Sound Editor

Frances Kolar

Makeup

Carol Kunz

Costumes

Sidney Lambert

Production Assistant

Marietta Lee

Other

Garrett Lewis

Set Decorator

Robert J Litt

Sound

Terri Martin

Assistant Director

Hank Mccann

Casting

William M. Mcconnell

Assistant Camera Operator

Steven Mccormick

Production Assistant

Marjoree D Mike

Other

Jay Miller

Song

Leigh Mitchell

Makeup

Michael Moyer

Gaffer

Dean O'brien

Unit Production Manager

Carol A. O'connell

Hair

Dick Oakes

Electrician

Okowita

Art Director

Greg Orloff

Foley

Al Overton

Sound Mixer

Mark Overton

Boom Operator

Kelly Oxford

Sound Editor

Craig Pettigrew

Music Editor

Jerry Pierce

Assistant

Edward Pisoni

Production Designer

Lee Poll

Set Decorator

Don Reddy

Camera Operator

Dan Rich

Sound Editor

Zachary Richard

Song

Zachary Richard

Song Performer

John Richards

Music

Donna Robert

Costumes

Pattee Roedig

Accounting Assistant

John Roesch

Foley Artist

Zade Rosenthal

Photography

Mason Ruffner

Song Performer

Mason Ruffner

Song

Greg P. Russell

Sound

Marcelo Sansevieri

Assistant Editor

Emmy Scharlatt

Assistant Editor

Tony Schwartz

Production Assistant

John Sheeren

Assistant Camera Operator

Christina Smith

Makeup

Dick Smith

Song

Jo-el Sonnier

Song Performer

Jo-el Sonnier

Song

Ray Stark

Producer

Wylie Stateman

Sound Editor

Renata Stola

Script Supervisor

Andrew Stone

Associate Producer

Christopher B Stone

Production Assistant

Shirlee Strahm

Costume Supervisor

Catherine Tambini

Assistant

Carolyn Tapp

Foley

Wayne Toups

Song Performer

Wayne Toups

Song

Claudia Triche

Other

Elliot Tyson

Sound

Stan Vaughan

Dolly Grip

Lisa Weisinger

Other

Julie Weiss

Costume Designer

Hugo Weng

Sound Editor

Rick A West

Key Grip

Victoria White

Executive Producer

Tom Whitehead

Consultant

Michael Wilhoit

Sound Editor

Hank Williams Sr.

Song

Steve Wolff

Set Designer

Videos

Movie Clip

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Also Known As
Blommor av stål, Fiori d'acciaio, Magnolias de acero, Potins de femmes
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Drama
Medical
Adaptation
Release Date
1989
Distribution Company
TriStar Pictures
Location
Northwestern State University, Louisiana, USA; Natchitoches, Louisiana, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 58m

Award Nominations

Best Supporting Actress

1989
Julia Roberts

Articles

Steel Magnolias


A stellar cast of actresses including Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts (in the role that made her a star) comes together in director Herbert Ross's Steel Magnolias (1989). The story centers on a group of strong, funny and colorful southern women who regularly congregate in the local beauty parlor to trade gossip, laughs and tears. When the health of young newlywed Shelby (Julia Roberts) is put in jeopardy by her determination to have a baby against her doctor's wishes, the women come together to support Shelby and her worried mother M'Lynn (Sally Field) through one of the toughest crises they'll ever have to face.

Steel Magnolias is based on the hit off-Broadway play of the same name by Robert Harling. The playwright based the story on the death of his sister, Susan, and the community of strong women in his hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana that rallied around his grieving family. Harling, who had attended law school and later took up acting, did not set out to be a writer. However, when his sister died, he was devastated and felt compelled to tell her story. A friend encouraged him to work through his feelings on paper, and within ten days the play was written. "I remember telling a friend that [the play] is going to open and do what it does and nobody will ever hear of it again, and then I'll go back to being an actor and figure out what I'm going to do the rest of my life," said Harling in a 2005 interview. "I had no delusions of writing grandeur."

Much to Harling's surprise, his play was a hit, and it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling. Director Herbert Ross became involved when producer Ray Stark recommended that he see Steel Magnolias on stage. "I was charmed by the play," said Ross in a 2000 interview. "I thought it was terrific and moving and funny." Ross quickly made a deal to bring Steel Magnolias to the big screen. Under Ross's guidance, Harling wrote the screenplay. While the entire stage play took place one a single set-Truvy's Beauty Shop-and used only six actresses, the movie would significantly open up the action to include multiple locations and several new characters, including husbands and significant others that never appeared in the play.

In casting the film version of Steel Magnolias, Herbert Ross wanted to bring some star power to the female roles. "Herb Ross called me and said that he had bought [the play]," said Shirley MacLaine in a 2000 interview. "And I remember his words were, 'Read the play and tell me what part you want to play.' I think he did that with all the actresses. We all really did pick the parts we wanted. I really wanted to play Ouiser. Didn't want to play anything else. I loved that idea of her being so curmudgeon-like."

While MacLaine took on the character role of Ouiser, Ross hired Sally Field to play M'Lynn, Dolly Parton as larger-than-life Truvy, Olympia Dukakis as rich widow Clairee, and Daryl Hannah as painfully shy Annelle. In an effort to convince Ross to give her the part, the usually glamorous Hannah showed up for her audition almost unrecognizable as she tried to look the part of dowdy Annelle. "For Daryl, who had never played a character role up unto this point," said Ross, "it was a real departure and she sought out the role and convinced me and Ray Stark that she could handle the role."

For the crucial part of Shelby, Herbert Ross seriously considered Winona Ryder, but in the end, she was considered too young looking. He then got his heart set on Meg Ryan. While Ryan was attached to Steel Magnolias for a short time, she dropped out of the project to make When Harry Met Sally (1989), the film that catapulted her to the top of the A-list.

It was through Sally Field that newcomer Julia Roberts was first brought to Herbert Ross's attention. Field's husband at the time, Alan Greisman, was a producer who had worked with Roberts on her first feature film Satisfaction in 1988. Both Greisman and Field believed that Roberts would be an excellent choice to play Shelby. Ross initially resisted using Roberts, something hard to believe considering what a huge star she went on to become. However, he was eventually won over by her talent. Roberts, who was still green in Hollywood at the time, couldn't believe she had a chance to work with such an experienced group of actors. "When I got the call to audition for the movie," said Roberts according to James Spada's 2004 biography Julia: Her Life, "I asked who was in it. When they told me, I said, 'Yeah, right.' I went to the audition with the intention of not getting it. I would go to the reading and do the best I could to try to impress somebody for a future role."

Though Ross hired Roberts for what would turn out to be her star making role, by all accounts he was extremely tough on her. According to Shirley MacLaine in her 1995 memoir My Lucky Stars, Ross wanted to have "a ballet master's control over his new discoveries" and wanted the gorgeous Roberts to change her appearance. "He wanted her to dye her hair, have her beauty marks removed, and never eat more than a thousand calories a day," said MacLaine. "He claimed he could detect the effects of an extra Saltine cracker on an actress's face. Julia stood up to Herbert's well-meaning dictates very well."

In her 1994 autobiography Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Dolly Parton also recalls Herbert Ross's stern treatment. "The only person who made [Steel Magnolias] less than a wonderful time for me," said Parton, "was the director, Herbert Ross. He didn't particularly like me or Julia Roberts at the start and was very hard on us...Julia Roberts was not the big star she is now, and I think Herbert Ross resented having to use her. He told me I couldn't act. This was not news to me, and I told him so. 'I'm not an actress, I'm Dolly Parton. I'm a personality who has been hired to do this movie. You're the director. It's your job to make me look like I'm acting.' By the end of the film, we had all made peace and become friends."

Paul Hirsch, the editor of Steel Magnolias, elaborated on Ross's directing style as quoted in James Spada's Julia Roberts biography. "He could be very demanding of his performers," he said, "and his style of directing grew out of his background in dance, where choreographers are notoriously blunt, even brutal, with their criticisms. Having said that, he was also the best director of actors I have ever worked with, and his pictures were often nominated for best performances in the acting categories."

Not everyone shared Ross's trepidation about hiring Julia Roberts. The established actresses in the cast warmed to her immediately and respected both her raw talent and the way she handled herself under such pressure. "Julia was new, had only done a few pictures," said Shirley MacLaine, "but the moment she walked into the rehearsal room it was obvious she was a born movie star."

Herbert Ross was adamant about shooting Steel Magnolias on location in Natchitoches, Louisiana, the actual town in which the action of the story took place. He felt that the character and flavor of the picturesque small town would bring the story to life. Most of the sets used throughout the shoot were real places, and many local citizens were used as extras, giving the film a feeling of authenticity. For her role as salon owner Truvy, Dolly Parton even trained for a time with local beauticians. "There were even brave people from Natchitoches who volunteered to have me do their hair," said Parton in her autobiography, "although I doubt many of them knew exactly how courageous they were."

The lead actresses all lived close to each other in rented houses in Natchitoches during the brutally hot Louisiana summer shoot. They spent a great deal of time together off camera and became genuine friends in the process. With so many top actresses together sharing the spotlight, it seemed inevitable that there would be drama. However, that didn't happen. "From day one," said Dolly Parton in her autobiography, "people were predicting trouble on the set because the cast included so many strong actresses with distinct and different personalities. That trouble never developed. We all got along fine."

Shirley MacLaine echoed Parton's sentiments in her memoir. "Nowhere was the effective power of women more evident than on the set of Steel Magnolias. The crew (mostly men) stood back in awe as they watched the women work out their creative problems with sensitivity and a minimum of turbulence. The actresses were there for each other at every insecure turn in the road. We were a bonded team." Julia Roberts also felt support in the potentially intimidating company of so many accomplished actresses. "They treated me like an equal before I ever began to deserve it," she said in a later interview.

Steel Magnolias opened to mostly positive reviews. "The principal pleasure of the movie," said Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review, "is in the ensemble work of the actresses, as they trade one-liners and zingers and stick together and dish the dirt. Steel Magnolias is willing to sacrifice its over-all impact for individual moments of humor, and while that leaves us without much to take home, you've got to hand it to them: The moments work." Rolling Stone called it "practically critic-proof" and "shamelessly entertaining."

"Critic-proof" was right. Since its release in 1989, Steel Magnolias has gone on to become something of a modern day classic. It is a movie that remains a positive memory for those involved with the film. "Our gang of wonder women met, worked, and lived together," said Shirley MacLaine. "We cried, laughed, and teased together. I don't remember a moment of jealously, envy, or proprietary behavior...we covered for each other, we joked with each other, and we respected each other's privacy. It was an experience not unlike what people saw on the screen when the movie came out, only we weren't just in character, we were being ourselves." Herbert Ross agrees. "It was a happy experience. It was a special summer. It was the first movie I made after my wife's death...It was the movie that somehow returned me into participating again in the world." For newcomer Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias was a triumph. Her performance garnered the film's only Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress.

The supporting cast of male roles includes Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Dylan McDermott, who plays Julia Roberts's husband. Roberts and McDermott, who met on this film, got engaged for a brief time after making the movie. However, the relationship soon ended. Keep an eye out for writer Robert Harling, who has a cameo in the film as the minister who marries Roberts and McDermott.

Producer: Ray Stark
Director: Herbert Ross
Screenplay: Robert Harling (also the play)
Cinematography: John A. Alonzo
Art Direction: Hub Braden and Michael Okowita
Music: Georges Delerue
Film Editing: Paul Hirsch
Cast: Sally Field (M'Lynn Eatenton), Dolly Parton (Truvy Jones), Shirley MacLaine (Ouiser Boudreaux), Daryl Hannah (Annelle Dupuy Desoto), Olympia Dukakis (Clairee Belcher), Julia Roberts (Shelby Eatenton Latcherie), Tom Skerritt (Drum Eatenton), Sam Shepard (Spud Jones), Dylan McDermott (Jackson Latcherie).
C-117m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.

by Andrea Passafiume
Steel Magnolias

Steel Magnolias

A stellar cast of actresses including Sally Field, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah and Julia Roberts (in the role that made her a star) comes together in director Herbert Ross's Steel Magnolias (1989). The story centers on a group of strong, funny and colorful southern women who regularly congregate in the local beauty parlor to trade gossip, laughs and tears. When the health of young newlywed Shelby (Julia Roberts) is put in jeopardy by her determination to have a baby against her doctor's wishes, the women come together to support Shelby and her worried mother M'Lynn (Sally Field) through one of the toughest crises they'll ever have to face. Steel Magnolias is based on the hit off-Broadway play of the same name by Robert Harling. The playwright based the story on the death of his sister, Susan, and the community of strong women in his hometown of Natchitoches, Louisiana that rallied around his grieving family. Harling, who had attended law school and later took up acting, did not set out to be a writer. However, when his sister died, he was devastated and felt compelled to tell her story. A friend encouraged him to work through his feelings on paper, and within ten days the play was written. "I remember telling a friend that [the play] is going to open and do what it does and nobody will ever hear of it again, and then I'll go back to being an actor and figure out what I'm going to do the rest of my life," said Harling in a 2005 interview. "I had no delusions of writing grandeur." Much to Harling's surprise, his play was a hit, and it wasn't long before Hollywood came calling. Director Herbert Ross became involved when producer Ray Stark recommended that he see Steel Magnolias on stage. "I was charmed by the play," said Ross in a 2000 interview. "I thought it was terrific and moving and funny." Ross quickly made a deal to bring Steel Magnolias to the big screen. Under Ross's guidance, Harling wrote the screenplay. While the entire stage play took place one a single set-Truvy's Beauty Shop-and used only six actresses, the movie would significantly open up the action to include multiple locations and several new characters, including husbands and significant others that never appeared in the play. In casting the film version of Steel Magnolias, Herbert Ross wanted to bring some star power to the female roles. "Herb Ross called me and said that he had bought [the play]," said Shirley MacLaine in a 2000 interview. "And I remember his words were, 'Read the play and tell me what part you want to play.' I think he did that with all the actresses. We all really did pick the parts we wanted. I really wanted to play Ouiser. Didn't want to play anything else. I loved that idea of her being so curmudgeon-like." While MacLaine took on the character role of Ouiser, Ross hired Sally Field to play M'Lynn, Dolly Parton as larger-than-life Truvy, Olympia Dukakis as rich widow Clairee, and Daryl Hannah as painfully shy Annelle. In an effort to convince Ross to give her the part, the usually glamorous Hannah showed up for her audition almost unrecognizable as she tried to look the part of dowdy Annelle. "For Daryl, who had never played a character role up unto this point," said Ross, "it was a real departure and she sought out the role and convinced me and Ray Stark that she could handle the role." For the crucial part of Shelby, Herbert Ross seriously considered Winona Ryder, but in the end, she was considered too young looking. He then got his heart set on Meg Ryan. While Ryan was attached to Steel Magnolias for a short time, she dropped out of the project to make When Harry Met Sally (1989), the film that catapulted her to the top of the A-list. It was through Sally Field that newcomer Julia Roberts was first brought to Herbert Ross's attention. Field's husband at the time, Alan Greisman, was a producer who had worked with Roberts on her first feature film Satisfaction in 1988. Both Greisman and Field believed that Roberts would be an excellent choice to play Shelby. Ross initially resisted using Roberts, something hard to believe considering what a huge star she went on to become. However, he was eventually won over by her talent. Roberts, who was still green in Hollywood at the time, couldn't believe she had a chance to work with such an experienced group of actors. "When I got the call to audition for the movie," said Roberts according to James Spada's 2004 biography Julia: Her Life, "I asked who was in it. When they told me, I said, 'Yeah, right.' I went to the audition with the intention of not getting it. I would go to the reading and do the best I could to try to impress somebody for a future role." Though Ross hired Roberts for what would turn out to be her star making role, by all accounts he was extremely tough on her. According to Shirley MacLaine in her 1995 memoir My Lucky Stars, Ross wanted to have "a ballet master's control over his new discoveries" and wanted the gorgeous Roberts to change her appearance. "He wanted her to dye her hair, have her beauty marks removed, and never eat more than a thousand calories a day," said MacLaine. "He claimed he could detect the effects of an extra Saltine cracker on an actress's face. Julia stood up to Herbert's well-meaning dictates very well." In her 1994 autobiography Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, Dolly Parton also recalls Herbert Ross's stern treatment. "The only person who made [Steel Magnolias] less than a wonderful time for me," said Parton, "was the director, Herbert Ross. He didn't particularly like me or Julia Roberts at the start and was very hard on us...Julia Roberts was not the big star she is now, and I think Herbert Ross resented having to use her. He told me I couldn't act. This was not news to me, and I told him so. 'I'm not an actress, I'm Dolly Parton. I'm a personality who has been hired to do this movie. You're the director. It's your job to make me look like I'm acting.' By the end of the film, we had all made peace and become friends." Paul Hirsch, the editor of Steel Magnolias, elaborated on Ross's directing style as quoted in James Spada's Julia Roberts biography. "He could be very demanding of his performers," he said, "and his style of directing grew out of his background in dance, where choreographers are notoriously blunt, even brutal, with their criticisms. Having said that, he was also the best director of actors I have ever worked with, and his pictures were often nominated for best performances in the acting categories." Not everyone shared Ross's trepidation about hiring Julia Roberts. The established actresses in the cast warmed to her immediately and respected both her raw talent and the way she handled herself under such pressure. "Julia was new, had only done a few pictures," said Shirley MacLaine, "but the moment she walked into the rehearsal room it was obvious she was a born movie star." Herbert Ross was adamant about shooting Steel Magnolias on location in Natchitoches, Louisiana, the actual town in which the action of the story took place. He felt that the character and flavor of the picturesque small town would bring the story to life. Most of the sets used throughout the shoot were real places, and many local citizens were used as extras, giving the film a feeling of authenticity. For her role as salon owner Truvy, Dolly Parton even trained for a time with local beauticians. "There were even brave people from Natchitoches who volunteered to have me do their hair," said Parton in her autobiography, "although I doubt many of them knew exactly how courageous they were." The lead actresses all lived close to each other in rented houses in Natchitoches during the brutally hot Louisiana summer shoot. They spent a great deal of time together off camera and became genuine friends in the process. With so many top actresses together sharing the spotlight, it seemed inevitable that there would be drama. However, that didn't happen. "From day one," said Dolly Parton in her autobiography, "people were predicting trouble on the set because the cast included so many strong actresses with distinct and different personalities. That trouble never developed. We all got along fine." Shirley MacLaine echoed Parton's sentiments in her memoir. "Nowhere was the effective power of women more evident than on the set of Steel Magnolias. The crew (mostly men) stood back in awe as they watched the women work out their creative problems with sensitivity and a minimum of turbulence. The actresses were there for each other at every insecure turn in the road. We were a bonded team." Julia Roberts also felt support in the potentially intimidating company of so many accomplished actresses. "They treated me like an equal before I ever began to deserve it," she said in a later interview. Steel Magnolias opened to mostly positive reviews. "The principal pleasure of the movie," said Roger Ebert in his Chicago Sun-Times review, "is in the ensemble work of the actresses, as they trade one-liners and zingers and stick together and dish the dirt. Steel Magnolias is willing to sacrifice its over-all impact for individual moments of humor, and while that leaves us without much to take home, you've got to hand it to them: The moments work." Rolling Stone called it "practically critic-proof" and "shamelessly entertaining." "Critic-proof" was right. Since its release in 1989, Steel Magnolias has gone on to become something of a modern day classic. It is a movie that remains a positive memory for those involved with the film. "Our gang of wonder women met, worked, and lived together," said Shirley MacLaine. "We cried, laughed, and teased together. I don't remember a moment of jealously, envy, or proprietary behavior...we covered for each other, we joked with each other, and we respected each other's privacy. It was an experience not unlike what people saw on the screen when the movie came out, only we weren't just in character, we were being ourselves." Herbert Ross agrees. "It was a happy experience. It was a special summer. It was the first movie I made after my wife's death...It was the movie that somehow returned me into participating again in the world." For newcomer Julia Roberts, Steel Magnolias was a triumph. Her performance garnered the film's only Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress. The supporting cast of male roles includes Tom Skerritt, Sam Shepard, Kevin J. O'Connor, and Dylan McDermott, who plays Julia Roberts's husband. Roberts and McDermott, who met on this film, got engaged for a brief time after making the movie. However, the relationship soon ended. Keep an eye out for writer Robert Harling, who has a cameo in the film as the minister who marries Roberts and McDermott. Producer: Ray Stark Director: Herbert Ross Screenplay: Robert Harling (also the play) Cinematography: John A. Alonzo Art Direction: Hub Braden and Michael Okowita Music: Georges Delerue Film Editing: Paul Hirsch Cast: Sally Field (M'Lynn Eatenton), Dolly Parton (Truvy Jones), Shirley MacLaine (Ouiser Boudreaux), Daryl Hannah (Annelle Dupuy Desoto), Olympia Dukakis (Clairee Belcher), Julia Roberts (Shelby Eatenton Latcherie), Tom Skerritt (Drum Eatenton), Sam Shepard (Spud Jones), Dylan McDermott (Jackson Latcherie). C-117m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning. by Andrea Passafiume

Ray Stark (1915-2004)


Ray Stark, the celebrated Hollywood producer who opened the world for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (1968), and was a recipient of the distinguished Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences for his services to the movie industry, died of natural causes on January 17th in Los Angeles. He was 88.

Born on October 3, 1915 in New York City, Stark was educated at Rutgers University and New York University Law School. After graduation, he started his entertainment career selling radio scripts before he became a literary agent for such notable writers as Ben Hecht, Thomas P. Costain, and Raymond Chandler. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Stark - who had show-business connections through his mother-in-law, Broadway legend Fanny Brice - eventually became a top Hollywood agent at Famous Artists, where he represented such stars as Marilyn Monroe, William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and Lana Turner.

By 1957, Stark was hungry to develop more of a taste in the film business, so he formed a partnership with fellow producer Elliott Hyman to create the independent movie firm, Seven Arts Productions. Stark's first film production credit was the popular drama The World of Suzie Wong (1960) starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan; and he followed that up with an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' superb Night of the Iguana (1964) with Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner.

Around this time, Stark had the ambition to produce a musical based on the life of his late mother-in-law, and produced his first Broadway musical - Funny Girl. The musical opened on March 24, 1964 and made Barbra Streisand the toast of the Great White Way. Eventually, Stark would make the film adaptation four years later, and Streisand would win the Academy Award for Best Actress. Stark would also arrange a contract with Streisand to do three more movies for him within the next 10 years that still prove to be the most interesting of her career: the hilarious sex farce The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) with George Segal; the romantic drama The Way We Were (1973) with Robert Redford; and the sequel to her film debut Funny Lady (1975) co-starring Omar Sharif.

Stark also delivered another Broadway luminary to the movie going masses when he brought a string of well-acted, Neil Simon comedies to the silver screen, most notably: The Goodbye Girl (1977) with Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss (Oscar winner, Best Actor); The Sunshine Boys (1975) with Walter Matthau and George Burns (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actor); California Suite (1978) with Alan Alda, Michael Caine, and Dame Maggie Smith (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actress); the nostalgic Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986) with Blythe Danner; and Biloxi Blues (1988) with Matthew Broderick. He also produced Steel Magnolias (1989), with an ensemble cast that introduced audiences to a radiantly young Julia Roberts. In television, Stark won an Emmy award for the HBO's telefilm Barbarians at the Gate (1993). His last credit as a producer (at age 84) was the Harrison Ford picture Random Hearts (1999).

Although he never won an Academy Award, Stark earned the most prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1980 and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America in 1999. He is survived by his daughter, Wendy, and granddaughter, Allison.

by Michael T. Toole

Ray Stark (1915-2004)

Ray Stark, the celebrated Hollywood producer who opened the world for Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl (1968), and was a recipient of the distinguished Irving G. Thalberg Award from the Academy of Arts and Sciences for his services to the movie industry, died of natural causes on January 17th in Los Angeles. He was 88. Born on October 3, 1915 in New York City, Stark was educated at Rutgers University and New York University Law School. After graduation, he started his entertainment career selling radio scripts before he became a literary agent for such notable writers as Ben Hecht, Thomas P. Costain, and Raymond Chandler. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Stark - who had show-business connections through his mother-in-law, Broadway legend Fanny Brice - eventually became a top Hollywood agent at Famous Artists, where he represented such stars as Marilyn Monroe, William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and Lana Turner. By 1957, Stark was hungry to develop more of a taste in the film business, so he formed a partnership with fellow producer Elliott Hyman to create the independent movie firm, Seven Arts Productions. Stark's first film production credit was the popular drama The World of Suzie Wong (1960) starring William Holden and Nancy Kwan; and he followed that up with an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' superb Night of the Iguana (1964) with Richard Burton, Deborah Kerr and Ava Gardner. Around this time, Stark had the ambition to produce a musical based on the life of his late mother-in-law, and produced his first Broadway musical - Funny Girl. The musical opened on March 24, 1964 and made Barbra Streisand the toast of the Great White Way. Eventually, Stark would make the film adaptation four years later, and Streisand would win the Academy Award for Best Actress. Stark would also arrange a contract with Streisand to do three more movies for him within the next 10 years that still prove to be the most interesting of her career: the hilarious sex farce The Owl and the Pussycat (1970) with George Segal; the romantic drama The Way We Were (1973) with Robert Redford; and the sequel to her film debut Funny Lady (1975) co-starring Omar Sharif. Stark also delivered another Broadway luminary to the movie going masses when he brought a string of well-acted, Neil Simon comedies to the silver screen, most notably: The Goodbye Girl (1977) with Marsha Mason and Richard Dreyfuss (Oscar winner, Best Actor); The Sunshine Boys (1975) with Walter Matthau and George Burns (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actor); California Suite (1978) with Alan Alda, Michael Caine, and Dame Maggie Smith (Oscar winner, Best Supporting Actress); the nostalgic Brighton Beach Memoirs (1986) with Blythe Danner; and Biloxi Blues (1988) with Matthew Broderick. He also produced Steel Magnolias (1989), with an ensemble cast that introduced audiences to a radiantly young Julia Roberts. In television, Stark won an Emmy award for the HBO's telefilm Barbarians at the Gate (1993). His last credit as a producer (at age 84) was the Harrison Ford picture Random Hearts (1999). Although he never won an Academy Award, Stark earned the most prestigious Irving G. Thalberg Award in 1980 and the David O. Selznick Lifetime Achievement Award from the Producers Guild of America in 1999. He is survived by his daughter, Wendy, and granddaughter, Allison. by Michael T. Toole

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Released in United States Fall November 15, 1989

Expanded Release in United States November 17, 1989

Wide Release in United States December 8, 1989

Re-released in United States on Video April 18, 1995

Released in United States February 1990

Shown at Berlin Film Festival (in competition) February 9-20, 1990.

Based upon Robert Harling's off-Broadway hit of the 1987-88 season. Originally produced on the New York Stage by the WPA Theatre.

Completed shooting September 15, 1988.

Began shooting July 12, 1988.

Released in United States Fall November 15, 1989

Expanded Release in United States November 17, 1989

Re-released in United States on Video April 18, 1995

Released in United States February 1990 (Shown at Berlin Film Festival (in competition) February 9-20, 1990.)

Wide Release in United States December 8, 1989