‘Steel Magnolias’ Star Shirley MacLaine Says She ‘Started Talking to [Herself]’ During Pandemic

by Caitlin Berard

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people around the world quarantined in an effort to keep themselves and their families safe. For many, this meant spending an inordinate amount of time with their immediate family. For Steel Magnolias star Shirley MacLaine, however, it was a full year in total isolation.

The nearly 90-year-old actress is a single woman with only one child, who has two adult children of her own. Rather than spend her time in quarantine with them, Shirley MacLaine opted for mountainous solitude.

“I came to the mountains in New Mexico,” the actress explained to the New York Post. “And I just, I really practically didn’t see anybody for a year [due to the COVID-19 pandemic] and that was an interesting experience.”

After a year, Shirley MacLaine began to realize that, although beautiful, the mountains weren’t providing adequate company. The lack of human contact resulted in an unexpected consequence, at which point MacLaine reentered society. “I did realize when I started talking to myself, I thought, well I better go out and wear a mask,” she recalled.

Though an unquestionably tough time in history, Shirley MacLaine believes the pandemic to be a learning experience. “I think it’s good being in touch with what many of us had been losing,” she explained. “A sense of who we basically and centrally are, even with all of what goes on in our businesses and social life.”

“There’s a reason [for everything],” she continued. “What the reason is for COVID, we’re trying to figure out and I think being cooped up alone is contributive to figuring out some other stuff we should have figured out years ago. So I say everything happens for learning.”

Shirley MacLaine Reveals ‘Steel Magnolias’ Cast Remain Friends

Thirty-three years ago, Steel Magnolias, starring Shirley MacLaine, Dolly Parton, Sally Field, Julia Roberts, and Daryl Hannah, hit theaters and became an instant success. The film is beloved for its depiction of unshakable friendship between a group of women who have their differences but fit together perfectly just the same.

In celebration of the 30th anniversary of Steel Magnolias back in 2019, Shirley MacLaine agreed to an interview with People, during which she revealed that the women formed a real-life bond while playing friends for the film. “We check in with each other,” she said. “Not all the time, but we know what we’re doing.”

MacLaine also shared an endearing story about country music icon Dolly Parton. “She was the only one who didn’t complain about the heat,” MacLaine said with a laugh. “And she was the one wearing the 10-inch heels and the waist cincher of 18 inches. She never complained about a thing. And a wig that was huge!”