Dolly Parton Greatest Movie Roles

Dolly Parton is an American singer-songwriter, actress, philanthropist, and businesswoman and was born on January 19, 1946, in Locust Ridge, Tennessee.

Parton grew up poor in rural Appalachia. She was one of 12 children, and money was always an issue for her family. Her first exposure to music came from family members, including her mother, who sang and played guitar.

Believe it or not, beloved country singer Dolly Parton has appeared in over 10 films. Below we list the best Dolly Parton movies as chosen by readers in a new survey.

There are few stars that have hit the level of fame that Dolly Parton has, and even harder to become as universally beloved and admired as Dolly. In this ever-changing world, with new forms of disagreements and arguments popping up daily, Dolly has remained a fixture of pop culture and a unifying presence that can bring even the most stubborn of enemies closer together with just one sound of Dolly’s angelic voice.

Dolly Parton has been charming audiences around the world for decades now, and you don’t need to be a superfan to understand why. A talented songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer, author, and dedicated philanthropist, she’s best known as a country singer with a vibrant personality, an inspiring backstory, and sparkly, sequin-laden outfits.

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In fact, Dolly has composed over 3,000 songs! But the nine-time Grammy Award winner is an actress too, which is why we’re sharing a list of the most well-known Dolly Parton movies with you. From 1982’s The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (for which Dolly won a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress) to cult favorite Steel Magnolias (1989), as well as delightful, family-friendly interpretations of her own childhood and life (Dolly Parton’s Coat of Many Colors and Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love), our picks have all the greats. We’ve even rounded up a few movies that are less frequently remembered (Frank McKlusky, anyone?), plus a few you’ll wish you had heard about years ago. Spend the weekend reminiscing, lip-syncing, and laughing your way through these Dolly Parton films.

While an incredibly talented musician, singer, and songwriter, Dolly Parton has also ventured into philanthropy and theme parks during her long career and the glitzy Hollywood world of film. Dolly’s presence in every movie she’s in always manages to steal the show, and no matter how terrible a film may be, Dolly Parton will always shine.

Forbes estimated the singer-songwriter’s net worth at $350 million. Parton has notably donated millions of dollars over the years, to causes like education, animal preservation and Covid-19 vaccine research.

Dolly Parton Best Movie Roles

Doralee Rhodes — ‘9 to 5’ (1980)

Alongside legendary comedians Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton starred in her first-ever movie role as Doralee Rhodes in the hit 1980 workplace comedy 9 to 5, which not only helped to establish Dolly Parton’s fruitful acting career but also helped to propel her into super-stardom further and become a household name across the globe. Doralee is the secretary to her chauvinist boss and the film’s main antagonist Frank Hart (Dabney Coleman), who constantly sexually harasses her and starts a rumor that they are sleeping together, resulting in the rest of the office’s staff shunning and ostracizing her.

For the first time acting in a film, Dolly does an excellent job alongside Lily and Jane and helps to showcase the rampant sexual harassment that occurred (and still does) in the workplace at the time while still being just as funny and charming as the film needs her to be. 9 to 5 is undoubtedly Dolly’s best acting work, and the film’s message still rings true to modern audiences, for better or worse.

Mona Stangley — ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas’ (1982)

Despite the film’s incredibly raunchy title, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is surprisingly tame and doesn’t dig deep into anything risqué apart from dressing Dolly into lacy lingerie and other scantily clad outfits from time to time. For the most part, Dolly does an excellent job playing the role of the brothel’s madam in this film. The original source material is a musical that allows Dolly to show off her exceptional singing, especially by including Dolly’s own “I Will Always Love You.” However, this film still doesn’t quite reach the same level of brilliance that 9 to 5 achieved.

The chemistry between the romantic leads, Dolly and Burt Reynolds, isn’t really any special either and gives less of a will-they-won’t-they sexually tense atmosphere and more of a boring married couple. Despite its many flaws, including its troubled production, it’s still a fun movie with excellent costumes. Dolly’s charming performance and singing will at least be entertaining enough to sit through.

Jake Farris — ‘Rhinestone’ (1984)

In one of the weirder, more-or-less forgotten movies that Dolly Parton has been a significant part of, her involvement in Rhinestone alongside Sylvester Stallone, of all people, is probably the biggest flop. The film’s plot centers around Dolly’s character Jake attempting to turn Sylvestor’s character Nick, a rude New York taxi driver, into a genuine country music sensation.

The film was a major critical and commercial flop, and Sylvester has even admitted that he regretted making the film in later interviews. Still, she and Stallone reportedly had a lot of fun working together, so at least there’s a silver lining. This film isn’t nearly up to par with her previous or future lustrous films in her career, but at least it wasn’t a production nightmare.

Truvy Jones — ‘Steel Magnolias’ (1989)

Dolly Parton in Steel Magnolias is a real return to form for Dolly’s film career, and she is more than a delight to watch alongside a young Julia Roberts, Sally Field, and Shirley MacLaine. The film is based on the play of the same name by Robert Harling, written in memory of his sister’s abrupt death, and is the first drama that Dolly ever starred in. She plays the role of Truvy, the town’s hairdresser and whose home acts as the base for the other female characters to gossip and become closer to one another, with Truvy’s home becoming a beacon of female solidarity and love.

The film is heartbreaking, emotional, and profoundly moving and is one of Dolly’s best films and performances ever. It’s no surprise that another female-ensemble-led film, like 9 to 5, really allowed Dolly to shine and not have to rely on the romance or chemistry with one of Hollywood’s leading men instead, letting her natural charm work excellently off the talents of the other actresses and shows off her humor and kindness rather than her sex appeal. Steel Magnolias is a must-watch for any Dolly Parton fan and will find a place in your heart.

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Dan Dunn
Dan Dunn
Executive Managing editor

Editor and Admin at MarkMeets since Nov 2012. Columnist, reviewer and entertainment writer and oversees all of the section's news, features and interviews. During his career, he has written for numerous magazines.

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