Dolly Parton is one of the most influential artists and entertainers in the history of the country music genre. Over her 54-year career, the Tennessee singer-songwriter has released countless hit songs, won eleven Grammy awards, and shaped the culture of country music over generations. Not only has Parton had an incredibly successful music career, but she has branched out to movies and TV as well. Parton began her television career the same way she began her music career -- on The Porter Wagoner Show in Nashville, TN. She later had her own television variety show, Dolly, from 1976 to 1977 and again on ABC from 1987 to 1988.
It's also hard to forget Parton's Hollywood movie roles in 9 to 5, The Best Little Whore House In Texas, Rhinestone, Steel Magnolias, and more. Recent productions released by Parton include Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors movie (2015) and Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love (2016). In 2019, Parton released a Netflix series called Dolly Parton's Heartstrings, which starred Julianne Hough, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Colin O'Donoghue, Ginnifer Goodwin, Delta Burke, and more. Parton served as executive producer of the show.
In addition to her own shows, Parton has guested on TV shows and appeared on award shows throughout her entire career. Parton has appeared on television over 400 times, so it's hard to list all her special moments, but here are some of Dolly Parton's best and most memorable TV appearances.
1o. Designing Women
Parton guest starred as herself in the classic sitcom Designing Women as Charlene's (Jean Smart) "guardian movie star," who gives her guidance before the birth of her baby girl.
9. Hannah Montana
Parton joined her real life goddaughter Miley Cyrus in Cyrus' hit Disney channel series Hannah Montana.
"[Miley] told them. She said 'I want my Aunt Dolly on here' -- She calls me Aunt Dolly...So they wrote me in the show," Parton told Vanity Fair. "Thanks to her, I had a whole new following."
8. "I Will Always Love You" on Carrie Underwood: All Star Holiday Special (2009)
In 2009, Dolly Parton starred in Carrie Underwood's Christmas show, Carrie Underwood: All Star Holiday Special, on Fox. It was there that the two powerhouse vocalists came together to sing "I Will Always Love You." Underwood has been known to sing the famous song at her shows, adding her one-of-a-kind vocals to the tune, so it was no doubt a special moment for the two country singers to sing the song together.
7. Dolly featuring Ronnie Milsap
Parton's variety show, Dolly, is full of now-historic performances from legendary artists, and on one episode from the first version of the show, famed singer Ronnie Milsap was featured as a guest. On the episode, Milsap performs "Pure Love" and "A Legend In My Time," and the two artists duet on "Rollin' in My Sweet Baby's Arms" and "I Believe In Music."
6. "Jolene" on The Porter Wagoner Show
The Porter Wagoner Show is what started Dolly Parton's career and thrust her into the spotlight, and there are countless historic performances one could cite from the show, but it doesn't get much better than Parton singing her 1973 hit, "Jolene." In one episode of the show, a young Parton belts the tune with her classic big hair.
5. Dolly featuring Kenny Rogers
On one of the episodes of her TV show, Dolly, Parton brought on country legend Kenny Rogers. Rogers is looking very 1970s in the clip, with his long hair, beard and glasses, as he sings "Love Lifted Me" and "The World Needs a Melody." Parton and Rogers then duet, singing "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," and a medley of "Spanish Eyes," "Brown Eyed Handsome Man," and "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain."
4. Parton on The Johnny Carson Show
Parton appeared on countless TV talk shows and appeared on The Johnny Carson Show multiple times over the years, but on one particular episode from 1979, Parton surprised Carson with a song written about him. The song found Parton thanking Carson and his show for contributing to her success. "I never really made it 'til the Johnny Carson show," she sings to the legendary TV host.
3. Dolly -- "A Tennessee Mountain Thanksgiving"
In this special episode of the second version of Dolly Parton's TV series, Dolly, Parton goes back Sevier County, Tennessee, the place she grew up near the Smoky Mountains. In the episode, Parton shows viewers the cabin she grew up in and sings "My Tennessee Mountain Home." She also attends the Dolly Day festivities in downtown Sevierville, where viewers get to meet some of Parton's old high school classmates. She then performs a few more songs and gives a tour of Dollywood. In a special moment, Parton sits on the front porch of her old home with her parents, Robert Lee and Avie Lee Parton.
2. Performing with Elton John on the CMA Awards
Dolly Parton has been involved in many historic CMA and ACM Award moments, but one of the most interesting collaborations is when she performed with Elton John at the 39th Annual CMA Awards. The two legendary artists took the stage to perform a medley of John's "Turn The Lights Out When You Leave" and Parton's version of "Imagine."
1. Dolly featuring Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt
On a 1976 episode of Dolly, Parton welcomed her two friends and Trio members Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt. The episode features performances from all three artists, who were still new and making their way in the music industry. In the show, the three collaborate on "Silver Threads and Golden Needles," "Applejack," "The Sweetest Gift," and "Bury Me Beneath the Willow Tree." Harris sings "My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy" and Ronstadt sings "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still in Love with You)." Partons's Dolly TV show would always open with "Love Is Like A Butterfly" and Parton would always close her act with "I Will Always Love You."