Robert Harling was born in Dothan, Alabama, and settled with his family in Natchitoches, Louisiana when he was twelve. Upon his graduation Tulane Law School, rather than take the bar exam, he opted to become an actor in New York. After years of productive work as an actor in voice-overs and commercials, Harling was inspired to write the highly acclaimed stage play, “Steel Magnolias”, which was based on events from his family.
Immediately bridging a career from stage to screen, Harling adapted his original play into the popular film of the same title which starred Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis, Dolly Parton and Daryl Hannah. Over the years, Harling has become a much sought after screenwriter: other credits include “Soapdish”, with Kevin Kline and Robert Downey, Jr.; and the highly successful “First Wives Club” for Paramount Pictures starring Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton.
Harling made his directorial debut with “The Evening Star” for Paramount, which he also wrote for the screen based on Larry McMurtry’s novel, reuniting Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson. In 2004, Pierce Brosnan and Julianne Moore filmed his screenplay of “Laws Of Attraction.”
Harling is currently working an original voodoo musical set in post-Katrina New Orleans, he has created the ABC series GCB — adapting the film “Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day” into a stage musical — and he is writing a play set in his Louisiana home entitled “The Strangers Room.”