Born in a tiny log cabin in East Tennessee, Dolly Parton grew up with big dreams and even bigger talent. Once she conquered Music City, she set her sights on Hollywood, though she never forgot her Tennessee roots.
Parton's many beloved big screen characters, from Doralee Rhodes (9 to 5) to Truvy Jones (Steel Magnolias) were whipsmart southern women filled with the heart and charm of Dolly herself.
But even before she was starring opposite Jane Fonda and Shirley MacLaine, Parton was a pro at performing on television. After all, her first big break was performing on The Porter Wagoner Show. She made her debut on the program in 1967 and would stay with the show until 1974. A little over a decade later, she'd have a variety show of her very own.
To trace Parton's journey from country star to Hollywood leading lady, we put together a timeline of Dolly's Tinsel Town takeover.
Parton famously appeared on the cover of Playboy in 1978. In 2021, she playfully recreated the cover for her husband Carl Dean's birthday.
9 to 5 (1980)
Parton's big screen debut was in the 1980 comedy 9 to 5. Though the multitalented singer-songwriter wasn't yet known as an actor, co-star and producer Jane Fonda knew she was perfect for 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."
The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982)
Two years after the premiere of 9 to 5, Parton starred opposite Burt Reynolds in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a musical comedy about a Texas brothel ran by Miss Mona Stangley (Parton).
Read More: The 10 Best Dolly Parton Movies, Ranked
Parton teamed up with Sylverster Stallone for Rhinestone, which features Parton portraying country singer Jake Farris, who bets that she can turn New York cab driver Nick (Stallone) into a country singer. The film was... not a commercial or critical success. (It has a 14 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.) But it did result in original Dolly Parton songs, such as "What a Heartache."
In 1984, Parton received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Dolly TV Series (1987)
In 1987, Parton launched her variety series Dolly, which featured a slew of A-list guests, such as Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Burt Reynolds, Linda Ronstadt, Bruce Willis, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and more.
Read More: Dolly Parton's 10 Best Cover Songs, Ranked
Steel Magnolias (1989)
"I have a strict policy that nobody cries alone in my presence" and "There is no such thing as natural beauty" are just two of the classic quotes from Truvy Jones, Parton's character in Steel Magnolias, the classic 1989 southern flick based on the play by Robert Harling.
Straight Talk (1992)
The 1992 comedy Straight Talk features Parton as Shirlee Kenyon, a down-and-out woman turned advice guru.
Vanity Fair Oscar Party (1997)
In 1997, Parton attended the Vanity Fair Oscar Party. The year before, she had appeared in the television film Unlikely Angel.
Oscar Nomination (2006)
In 2006, Parton was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Travelin' Thru" from Transamerica.
Joyful Noise (2012)
The 2012 film Joyful Noise stars Parton and Queen Latifah as rival church choir members preparing for a national competition.
Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors (2015)
In 2015, Parton executive produced and narrated Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors, a made-for-TV film based on Parton's life. In 2016, she appeared in Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love as the "Painted Lady."
Read More: Dolly Parton's Many Netflix Collabs, From 'Dumplin'' to Her Upcoming Appearance on 'Grace & Frankie'
Though Dolly didn't appear onscreen in Dumplin', in many ways, she inspired the film. Dumplin' centers on a teenager who idolizes Parton and turns to the country legend's music for strength. Parton scored the film and wrote six original songs for the soundtrack, including a collaboration with Jennifer Aniston.
Dolly Parton's Heartstrings (2019)
In 2019, Dolly Parton's Heartstrings, an anthology series based on Parton's songs, premiered on Netflix.
Grace & Frankie
Last year, Parton announced that she'd be reuniting with her 9 to 5 co-stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin to film a guest spot on the Netflix hit Grace & Frankie.
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