Entertainment

Dolly Parton's Sister Rachel Starred in a '9 to 5' Sitcom in the '80s

Musician Dolly Parton and sister Actress Rachel Dennison attend the 1983 Carousel of Hope Ball to Benefit the Barbara Davis Center for Childhood Diabetes on October 8, 1983 at Currigan Hall in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Dolly Parton is a globally recognized singer-songwriter, actor and philanthropist, but she's not the only artist in the family.

As Dolly fans know, talent runs deep in the Parton crew. Her sister Stella is an actor and country singer who scored a hit in the '70s with "I Want to Hold You in My Dreams Tonight," brothers Randy and Floyd were both talented songwriters and Dolly's sister Rachel Ann George (formerly Rachel Dennison), the youngest of the Parton siblings, is a singer and actor who's performed alongside her famous sister and even played a role that Parton originated in the smash hit film 9 to 5.

'9 to 5' Sitcom

Dolly Parton and sister Rachel
Dolly Parton and Rachel Dennison during 1981 Carousel Ball Benefiting the Childrens Diabetes Foundation in Denver at Carousel Ball in Denver, Colorado, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Nearly everyone knows (and loves) the 1980 film 9 to 5, starring Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as three office workers who take on their boss, a "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot." The movie grossed over $103.9 million, is on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies and spawned a musical. But even before the musical, 9 to 5 inspired an ABC sitcom.

Read More: Dolly Parton's Greatest Fashion Statements, From Cowgirl Chic to Sequin Glam

Though less remembered than the feature film, the 9 to 5 sitcom actually ran for five seasons (three on ABC and two in first-run syndication).

Parton's sister Rachel (then billed as Rachel Dennison) played the role her older sister made famous: Doralee Rhodes, while Hollywood legend Rita Moreno played the Lily Tomlin role (Violet Newstead) and Valerie Curtin portrayed the Jane Fonda role (Judy Bernly).

There was quite a bit of upheaval in the cast throughout the show's 85 episodes. In fact, only Rachel Dennison remained for every episode. The character of Judy Bernly (portrayed by Valerie Curtin) was written out and replaced with the character of Linda Bowman (Leah Ayres). Following Moreno's exit in season three, Sally Struthers joined the cast.

Despite the decline in ratings and ever changing cast, the series had enough audience interest to begin airing in first-run syndication in 1986.

Fittingly, Parton's timeless "9 to 5" served as the theme song. In the first season, singer-songwriter Phoebe Snow's cover of "9 to 5" was used as the theme.

'9 to 5' Movie & Song

Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in a publicity still for '9 to 5', directed by Colin Higgins, 1980.
American actresses (left to right) Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda in a publicity still for '9 to 5', directed by Colin Higgins, 1980. (Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

Inspired by the work of  labor organizer Karen Nussbaum, the founder of 9to5, the Women Office Workers Union, Jane Fonda set out to make a movie about overworked and underpaid women in the workforce. When it came time to cast the part of Doralee, she envisioned Dolly Parton in the role.

"I suddenly [got] an image of Dolly Parton sitting at a typewriter," Fonda said. "And I thought that would be something, to have Dolly Parton in her first movie playing a secretary in a movie that, among many other things, is going to touch upon sexual harassment. She's perfect."

Parton agreed -- but only if she could also write the theme song. It was a win-win.

During downtime on the film set, Parton would click her acrylic nails together, playing them like a washboard. The sound reminded her of the click click of keys on a typewriter.

"I always play the nails and I'd come up with little things that I would see on the set, like I tumble out of bed and I stumble to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of... And I thought, 'Wow, that sounds like a typewriter,'" the Tennessee native said.

The song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1981 and won Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance, Female. The song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Country Chart, the Billboard Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary Chart in 1981.

"Lily and I looked at each other and we had goosebumps," Fonda said of the song. "And we knew, this is not just a movie song, this is an anthem."

 

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Dolly Parton's Sister Rachel Starred in a '9 to 5' Sitcom in the '80s