Dolly Parton’s Sister Filed a Lawsuit Against Dollywood After an On-Site Injury Required Surgery

As the owner of a large company, Dolly Parton knows that things don’t always go smoothly, particularly when her siblings are involved. Many of Parton’s siblings were involved in the Dollywood theme park in some way or another. While on-site, Parton’s sister injured herself so severely that she required surgery. Here’s how Parton and the park responded to the incident. 

A black and white photo of Dolly Parton and her siblings Stella and Frieda Parton. They stand in front of recording equipment.
Stella Parton, Frieda Parton, and Dolly Parton | Betty Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Dolly Parton’s siblings grew up in their Smoky Mountain home

Growing up, Parton was in the older half of her 11 siblings. The family lived in a one-bedroom Smoky Mountain home without running water or electricity. From an early age, nearly all of the Parton children demonstrated some form of musical talent. 

“I have – there’s 12 of us kids, six girls and six boys, and we all sing and write and play,” she told NPR. “It’s just that I think I’ve taken it farther. I don’t know that I’m near as good as some of the others, but I’ve been more willing to sacrifice and work a little harder than some of the others might have been willing, you know, to do just because they wanted to have a family and do other things.”

Dolly Parton’s younger sibling once filed a worker’s compensation lawsuit against Dollywood

Because of their talent, Parton welcomed her siblings to perform in a show at Dollywood when the park opened. According to a 1989 article in The Free Lance-Star, “while there, fans hear music by Miss Parton’s brother and sister, Randy and Frieda, and the Kinfolks, made up of an aunt, three uncles and two cousins.” 

That same year, Frieda suffered a back injury at Dollywood. A 1989 article in the Times Daily reported that “Frieda Parton, 33, said she injured her back closing a dressing room door at Dollywood.”

According to the lawsuit, the injury was severe enough that Frieda required back surgery. The book Smart Blonde: Dolly Parton by Stephen Miller reports that the park paid Frieda the maximum statutory benefits and also covered all her medical expenses.

Just after this lawsuit, Dollywood had to pay $20,325 in fines for violating child labor laws. According to the Dollywood spokesperson, the issue was “mostly a case of scheduling mistakes,” per People. Though Parton declined to comment, Miller wrote that she was apparently “very angry” about the situation.

Frieda Parton also had a music career

As evidenced by her job performing at Dollywood, Frieda Parton also worked as a singer. She sang back up on some of Parton’s songs and had her own solo career. Unlike her sister, her music was firmly rock and roll, not country. 

“If I wasn’t Dolly’s sister, critics would probably be saying, ‘Wow, it’s another Janis Joplin,’” she told People per Country Historian. “When I scream, people listen.’”

Ultimately, she found limited success with her music. Eventually, Frieda retired from the music industry to open a wedding chapel work and work as an ordained minister.

RELATED: Dolly Parton Hand-Delivered a Check After Hearing About Pay Disparity at Her Company