After Dolly Parton Got a Taste of Hollywood She Called It a ‘Phony World’

Article Highlights:

  • Why Dolly Parton thought Hollywood was “phony” in 1981
  • The Queen of Country on becoming a movie star
  • How she related to and understood her most devoted fans
Dolly Parton in the car with her manager, Sandy Gallin, in 1985.
Dolly Parton and Manager/Producer Sandy Gallin on October 1, 1985 | Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Dolly Parton started her career in Nashville, Tennessee. But when she wanted to take things to the next level, she set her eyes on Hollywood. She got herself a Los Angeles-based manager and even began accepting some of the offers she’d been receiving to star in movies. In her new apartment out west, Parton found herself a long way from home. She had mixed feelings about Hollywood show business, but she knew she had to conquer it to get to where she wanted to be in her career.

Dolly Parton on adjusting to life in Hollywood in the early ’80s

In 1981, the “Dumb Blonde” singer was interviewed by Playgirl Magazine. At the time, she was still getting used to being on the west coast.

“I like bein’ here,” she said, as recorded in the book Dolly On Dolly. “I like it better than I used to. I’ve adjusted to it more. There are a lot of wonderful people here. It could never be my home, but it’s excitin’.”

The musician’s interviewer brought up that she was on record calling show business a “phony world.” Did she still feel the same way?

“I’m talking about the surroundings, all the airs people have to put on,” she said. “Everybody is trying to be different, to have a gimmick. I’m just talking about all the hokey things, all the freaky people like Elton John and myself who try to come up with something to catch your attention. It’s kind of a joke, what I said, but there was a great deal of truth in it as well. I take my music extremely seriously, but I’m talking about all the things that go along with it—the parties, the award shows, all the people trying to outdress the others, trying to get into Time magazine with their dresses cut below the tailbone or whatever.”

Dolly Parton was about to become a huge star

RELATED: Dolly Parton Admitted She Recorded Albums She Wasn’t ‘Particularly Proud of’ to Move Her Career Forward

Just as she’d planned, Parton was about to reach new heights of stardom in 1981. Her first film, 9 to 5 was about to come out and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was to follow. At the time, the Queen of Country was anticipating a whole new life.

“We don’t know yet how I’m gonna affect the public,” she said. “There is certainly a possibility that I’ll need bigger gates and security guards at home, but I’m prepared for that. I built my house years ago with the thought in mind that there would come a day when I would need privacy and security, so it’s located far enough off the road that I can wander around in the front yard and nobody can see me. I planned my whole life carefully preparing for success.”

The Queen of Country’s devoted fans

As the singer became a bigger star, so did her fan base. And her fans proved themselves to be truly devoted, unafraid to brave stormy weather if it meant catching a glimpse of Parton. She told Playgirl she understood their enthusiasm.

“I know how important it is for people to have somebody to look up to,” she said. “Some people don’t really have enough goin’. They have never looked deep enough into themselves, or they never had the intelligence, or haven’t cared enough, or didn’t have the chance to be satisfied with who they are. So if there’s somebody they love, idealize and almost worship, they want to be as close to that person as they can, so they can pattern their own lives after that person. It makes it easier for ’em sometimes.”