Dolly Parton Said Her Father Saw ‘9 to 5’ Just to Figure Out ‘Which Kid I Was’

As one of twelve children, Dolly Parton had to work hard to stand out and, with a prolific career in entertainment, it seems that she has. Still, she joked that even her fame didn’t make her stand out. She wondered if her father was just seeing 9 to 5 to figure out which one of his children she was. Despite the jokes, though, Parton says that her parents never treated her any differently because of her celebrity status.

Dolly Parton's mother wears a black and white dress with a red belt. Dolly Parton wears a denim dress. Dolly Parton's father wears a red plaid shirt and blue hat. They stand in front of a house.
Dolly Parton and parents in 1987 | John Seakwood/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images

Dolly Parton has 11 siblings

Parton is the fourth of 12 siblings who grew up in the family’s two-room Smoky Mountain home. Between working and raising the children, Parton’s mother and father had limited free time. As her mother was overworked, she’d often pass some of the child-rearing onto the older siblings.

“There were so many of us that we, each older one, had to take care of the others,” Parton said on Home & Family. “Mom was just having one baby. There was only 18 months to two years difference in our ages. So as the kids started multiplying, mom would say, ‘Well, this one’s going to be your baby.’” 

Tragically, the child who Parton was meant to care for died, which crushed Parton and her mother.

She joked that her father only saw ‘9 to 5’ to distinguish her from the other kids

The combination of 12 children and two very busy parents meant that the Parton kids didn’t get too much individualized attention growing up. Later in life, Parton joked about her father’s ability to tell his kids apart.

“Daddy saw 9 to 5 so often that I think it was his way of getting to know which kid I was,” she said to Ladies’ Home Journal, per the book Dolly on Dolly: Interviews and Encounters with Dolly Parton. “He just lived in that drab theater, and it touches me to think of it. Y’see, he and Mama had so many kids that none of us got special attention. What’s more, I was so busy working on my music that I had just about left home by the time I was ten.”

Jokes aside, Parton confirmed that her fame never impacted the way her parents taught her. They made sure to treat all the Parton siblings the same way.

“Mama and Daddy didn’t cater to me any more than the other kids,” she said. “I’m still just their li’l Dolly. I’m so much like my mother, who always sees to it that she’s the center of attention. Mama’s attitude is, why, of course Dolly’s a star — she’s just like me.”

Dolly Parton’s father proved his pride in her

Parton’s father demonstrated his pride in his daughter in a sweet way. Sevier County, where Parton grew up, erected a statue of the singer at the courthouse. At night, Parton’s father would put “a bucket of soapy water in the back of his pick-up truck” and scrub the statue clean.

“That touched me so much,” she said for the Apple Fitness + Time to Walk experience. “I loved my daddy and wanted him to be proud of himself, as I was proud of him.”

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