Top 10 Times Dolly Parton Was Awesome



Top 10 Times Dolly Parton Was Awesome

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nancy Roberge-Renaud
Dolly Parton isn't just awesome from 9 to 5. Our countdown includes bringing jobs to her childhood country, turning down Elvis, responding to criticism, and more!

Top 10 Times Dolly Parton Was Awesome

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Times Dolly Parton Was Awesome.

For this list, we’ll be looking at how and when the legendary Dolly Parton was simply amazing.

What’s your reason for loving the queen of country? Let us know in the comments down below.

#10: Producing Entertainment and Equality With Sandollar Entertainment

In 1986, Parton and her then manager Sandy Gallin co-founded Sandollar Entertainment, a production company. The company was one of the ones behind such films as Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Father of the Bride.” If you’re wondering what sounds familiar about the company name, it’s featured at the end of every episode of “Buffy,” the television program. On top of this, when Parton found out that a female Sandollar producer wasn’t getting paid as much as her male counterparts, she took action. Producer Gail Berman was discovered to be shorted on the “Buffy” royalties, and Parton personally handed her a cheque to compensate.

#9: Speaking for the Working Class in “9 to 5” (1980)

Though Dolly Parton saw incredible fame from early on in her career, she’s never forgotten where she came from, nor what others less fortunate than her have to endure. Though her song “9 to 5” was written for the 1980 film of the same title, its message resonates for working people. The song speaks of having no other choice than to work for an unsympathetic boss, and being but “a step on the boss man’s ladder”. It depicts the daily hustle of having to get up early, and hurry off to a job in which “they just use your mind and never give you credit”. Interlaced in the lyrics, however, is the recognition of the individual’s dream to get out of the 9 to 5 routine, and accomplish their own goals.

#8: Bringing Jobs to Her Childhood County

Though Parton left Sevier County, Tennessee at the age of 18, she also never forgot her roots. In 1986, she purchased interest in “Silver Dollar City”, a smallish theme park in the vicinity of her childhood county. The park was renamed “Dollywood”, and was — and still is — a great success. Parton stated that she always told herself that should she find fame and fortune, she would return to her home state and create employment opportunities for those in and around the area. The park created thousands of jobs, and Parton hopes to open other locations at some point, creating similar opportunities for areas in need.

#7: Supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement

Dolly Parton is infinitely quotable, and of the Black Lives Matter movement, she has said “of course black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!” When Parton found out one of her Dollywood attractions, the Dixie Stampede, contained an offensive word (“dixie” was used in Confederate times to refer to the Southern states, as well as the title of a pro-Confederacy anthem), she changed it to Dolly Parton’s Stampede. In a comment regarding the renaming, Parton claimed “innocent ignorance”, and said she would never wish to bring harm to anyone. It’s refreshing to see someone acknowledge their past ignorance, and bring immediate change to a potentially hurtful situation.

#6: Turning Down Elvis

When Elvis Presley wanted to cover Parton’s song, “I Will Always Love You”, she was ecstatic. One of the greats took notice and loved one of her songs, and this could have been an amazing opportunity. She was invited to the studio for the recording, and was filled with excitement. However, on the eve of the studio date, Parton received a phone call from Elvis’s manager, Colonel Parker. Parker stated that for any song Elvis sang or covered, he required half or all of the publishing rights. The deal fell through at this point, as Parton was giving half the rights to her family. Despite the massive attention she would have received following the cover song, she chose family over fame.

#5: Donating for Covid Vaccine Research

The quest for a vaccine defined much of the covid-19 pandemic era. And Dolly Parton aided in the only way she could: by donating 1 million dollars to Tennessee's Vanderbilt University Medical Center in April 2020. The Center went on to help with research that helped Moderna, an ambitious American pharmaceutical company, in the race to develop a vaccine. Ever the humble public servant, Parton took to Twitter, stating “When I donated money to the Covid fund, I just wanted it to do good and evidently, it is! Let’s just hope we can find a cure real soon.”

#4: Defending Her LGBTQ+ Fanbase

The country music domain traditionally has a heavily conservative following, where acceptance of certain kinds of difference is sometimes difficult. However, Dolly Parton is, as always, a shining exception. Due to her amazing style and verve, coupled with her highly-praised and admired music, Parton has amassed a large LGBTQ+ following, which she greatly accepts and outwardly appreciates. Asked in an interview about this fanbase, Parton responded with “they know I completely love and accept them. I think everybody should be allowed to be who they are, and to love who they love. I don't think we should be judgmental".

#3: Founding Her Imagination Library

In 1995, Dolly Parton founded “Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library”, a nonprofit organization that provides children with free books from birth until they begin school. The Library began in Parton’s home county of Sevier, and was so successful that it is now open to a number of other countries. Parton created the foundation in honor of her father, who was illiterate. Parton stated that she always thought her father could have achieved his goals had he been able to read. Before he died, he told Parton that the Library was the most important thing she has ever done. It is of vital importance that children are encouraged to read from a young age, and Parton has made that possible for countless youngsters.

#2: Responding to Criticism

Early on in her career, Parton was subject to much criticism based on her appearance. However, she has never let any of this get her down. In a 1977 interview with Barbara Walters, when asked why she dressed as she did, and wore so much makeup, Parton responded that she chose to be that way, and simply doesn’t like being like everyone else. Walters then asked her (perhaps a little boldly) if she felt that she was a joke, ridiculed by people. Parton basically responded that the joke’s on them, as she is completely secure in herself and can afford to mess around with makeup and clothes. That self-confidence is an admirable attitude towards life!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Expressing Her Drag Queen Love
Dolly Loves Her Countless Drag Personas

Reading Storytime
Dolly Provided Virtual Storytime During the Pandemic

Speedwriting Iconic Songs
She Wrote Both “Jolene” and “I Will Always Love You” in One Day

#1: Consistently Focusing on Philanthropy

As we’ve seen, Dolly Parton has definitely not been selfish with her fame and fortune. And her lengthy and eclectic list of philanthropic acts is even more impressive. She’s also helped support or donated to the Red Cross, hospital wing extensions, bald eagle preservation, victims of wildfires... and the list goes on. She has received a plethora of awards, praise and honors for her good works, and they’re all definitely well-deserved. The sheer amount of donations she has made to various causes and foundations is immense. Her heart, however, truly seems to belong to providing education and literacy. In 2009, she received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from the University of Tennessee for, among other things, being a lifelong advocate for education.