(Original Caption) 12/15/80-New York: Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin (L to R) attend a 12/14 benefit showing of "Nine to Five," their new film about the travails of life in the secreterial pool. Benefit was dedicated to Working Woman, a national organization for office workers.
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Dolly Parton's 12 Best Movies, From Hollywood Hits to Holiday Favorites

Dolly Parton movies establish her as a definitive creative triple-threat. She's a massively talented singer, Grammy-winning songwriter and veteran actor. Oh, and she's also a philanthropist who provides one million free books to children each month. If given enough time, she could probably solve all of the world's problems.

In the meantime, we have her movies. Before proving her big-screen acting chops right out the gate with 9 to 5, Parton's pivot to Hollywood wasn't without its detractors. To some, it was the latest sign that a verified queen of country music was preparing to abandon Nashville altogether and go "pop." Ultimately, country music benefitted from having one of its all-time best storytellers transition to another medium.

From a Sylvester Stallone vehicle to a Southern classic, here are the 12 best results from Parton's jump from Dollywood to Hollywood. Our list sticks with feature-length films and skips the various TV shows that've benefitted from Parton's self-depreciating humor and storytelling depth— from goddaughter Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana to the Netflix anthology series Dolly Parton's Heartstrings.

12. Rhinestone (1984)

Sylvester Stallone points to Dolly Parton in a scene from the film 'Rhinestone', 1984.

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If you've ever wondered how Sylvester Stallone would fare as a country singer... well, you might be the only one. But 1984's Rhinestone asks the question: what if Parton had to make a New York City cab driver into a country singer in order to get out of a contract with a sleazy club manager? The film was panned upon its release, but it did spawn two Top 10 country singles for Dolly: "Tennessee Homesick Blues" and "God Won't Get You." The plot is just ridiculous and delightfully campy enough for a so-bad-it's-good movie night.

11. Christmas at Dollywood (2019)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 05: Actress/author Danica McKellar (R) and Santa Claus attend the New York screening of Hallmark Channel's "Christmas At Dollywood" at Village East Cinema on December 05, 2019 in New York City.

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Unsurprisingly, Hallmark's winning Christmas movie formula and the seasonal magic of Parton's East Tennessee theme park go together like homemade biscuits and sausage gravy. Danica McKellar plays one of the romantic leads in a familiar big-city workaholic falls for a tiny-town dreamer tale, with Parton appearing in the film as herself.

10. Dolly Parton's Christmas on the Square (2020)

 LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Dolly Parton attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

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Parton plays a holiday-saving angel in this musical film adaptation of a stage play. To pull this off, she halts a Scrooge-like character, played by Christine Baranski, from selling not just an orphanage but an entire small town. Sometimes, over-the-top hits the spot while scrolling for something to watch with the whole family.

9. Wild Texas Wind (1991)


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Made-for-TV movie Wild Texas Wind stars Parton, Gary Busey and Ray Benson.  Filmed in Austin, Texas, the film follows an aspiring singer (Parton) and her abusive alcoholic manager (Busey) and centers around a murder. The film features a cameo by Willie Nelson and original music penned by Parton and Benson.

8. A Smoky Mountain Christmas (1986)

Musician Dolly Parton attends a Taping of 'The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson' on June 8, 1986 at NBC-TV Studios in Burbank, California.

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TV movie A Smoky Mountain Christmas stars Parton as country music star Lorna Davis, who travels to the Smoky Mountains to escape the grind of Los Angeles. While there, she meets and becomes caretaker of a group of orphans. The Christmas classic is as heartwarming and sweet as Parton herself. It set the right tone for Parton's ongoing string of holiday-themed films.

7. Straight Talk (1992)

Dolly Parton holds a mic in publicity portrait for the film 'Straight Talk', 1992.

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We all know that Dolly gives the best advice, so it makes perfect sense that she'd play Shirlee Kenyon, a down-and-out woman turned advice guru, in the romantic comedy Straight Talk. James Woods co-stars in the tale of a small-town woman who falls into unlikely success in Chicago.

6. Unlikely Angel (1996)

Country and Western superstar Dolly Parton entertains the audience at Rotherham's Magna Centre on 5 December, 2007, Rotherham, England. Dolly Parton launched her literacy scheme at the former Rotherham steel works giving the town the honour of being the first in Europe. The Imagination Library encourages young children to discover the joys of reading with every pre-school age child in Rotherham being sent a free book every month.

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CBS' made-for-TV movie Unlikely Angel finds Parton playing another country star. This time it's the slightly egotistical Ruby Diamond (yes, really), who meets an untimely death and is assigned a mission to reunite a family on earth before she can become an angel. That stretch of Parton's career also brought us another TV movie, 1999's Blue Valley Songbird. Both are among the films for which Parton served as an executive producer.

  5. Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (2016)

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 03: Actresses Jennifer Nettles and Dolly Parton attend a press conference for their upcoming film "Christmas Of Many Colors: Circle Of Love" at the Citation Support Facilityon November 3, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jason Davis/FilmMagic

Parton's TV movies about her childhood growing up in the Smoky Mountains are becoming a Christmas tradition. NBC special Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love follows the Parton family as they sacrifice their holiday gifts so their father can buy their mother a wedding ring. The movie stars Ricky Schroder and Jennifer Nettles as Parton's parents and Dolly herself as the town's "painted lady."

It's the sequel to Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors (2015), which starred Alyvia Alyn Lind as young Dolly. It also kept a Christmas film trend going, along with 2013's A Country Christmas Story.

4. Joyful Noise (2012)

HOLLYWOOD, CA - JANUARY 09: Jeremy Jordan, Dolly Parton, Dolly Parton, Queen Latifah and Keke Palmer attends the Los Angeles premiere of "Joyful Noise" at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on January 9, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

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The 2012 film Joyful Noise stars Parton and Queen Latifah as rival church choir members as they prepare for a national competition. The movie also features Kris Kristofferson as Dolly's husband. Like Parton, Kristofferson and Queen Latifah were musical forces who'd proven themselves as multimedia superstars. Overall, the film was evidence that Parton hadn't lost a step over 30 years into her acting career.

3. The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)

Nashville, Tn. - July 21: Singer/Songwriter/Actor Dolly Parton and Actor Loni Anderson attend The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas premiere at Opryland on July 21, 1982 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Parton dazzles in the 1982 musical comedy The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, an adaption of the 1978 Broadway musical. She stars as Miss Mona Stangley, proprietor of a small town brothel known as the Chicken Ranch. Things are complicated by a meddling TV anchor on a mission to shut the brothel down and Mona's on-again,off-again relationship with the local sheriff,  played by Burt Reynolds. The movie soundtrack spawned the Top 10 hit "Hard Candy Christmas" and made Parton's "I Will Always Love You" a No. 1 hit for the second time.

2. Steel Magnolias (1989)

NEW YORK CITY - NOVEMBER 5: Actress Shirley MacLaine, actress Daryl Hannah, actress Sally Field, singer Dolly Parton and actress Julia Roberts attend the "Steel Magnolias" New York City Premiere on November 5, 1989 at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City.

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Southern saga Steel Magnolias stars Parton as Truvy Jones, the hilarious local beautician, advice-giver and town gossip. The film centers on the friendship between a group of women in small-town Louisiana who endure tragedy with a whole lot of wit along the way. A true classic, the film elevated not just Parton but also co-stars Sally Field, Julia Roberts and Shirley MacLaine.

1. 9 to 5 (1980)

DECEMBER 19: (L-R) Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda acts in a scene from the movie "9 to 5" which was released on December 19, 1980.

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The 1980 workplace comedy 9 to 5 stars Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Parton as overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated office workers. Fed up with the antics of their "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss, the three women kidnap and blackmail him and take over the office, providing equal pay and flexible work hours for the employees. The movie officially launched Parton into super-stardom and spawned a hit Broadway musical, a documentary and, of course, Parton's original song "9 to 5."

Parton's career-launching role as Doralee Rhodes earned her a Golden Globe nomination.

This story previously ran on Nov. 28, 2018.