Forty years ago today, on Dec. 19, 1980, Dolly Parton made her big-screen debut, appearing in the movie 9 to 5. A comedy based on three working women, the film also starred Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and Dabney Coleman.
9 to 5 was a major box office hit. Parton played one of the leading characters, Doralee Rhodes, a secretary falsely rumored to be sleeping with her boss, Franklin Hart (played by Coleman). The country star also wrote the movie’s title track, which became one of the biggest hits of her career.
The song “9 to 5” landed at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Adult Contemporary charts, in addition to the country charts. The tune also won numerous awards, including two Grammys, for Best Country Song and Best Country Vocal Performance, Female; additionally, Parton picked up two Golden Globe nominations, for Best Actress — Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and New Star of the Year — Actress, for her role in 9 to 5.
Parton followed up her role in 9 to 5 with appearances in several other hit movies, including The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone and the Oscar-nominated Steel Magnolias, among others. The country icon also released the album 9 to 5 and Odd Jobs after the film’s release; in addition to the title track, the project spawned the No. 1 hit “But You Know I Love You.”
A musical version of 9 to 5 opened on Broadway in 2009. Although it received wide critical acclaim, the musical closed after just 17 weeks due to poor attendance.
“9 to 5 didn’t make it on Broadway, but it didn’t sour me,” Parton maintains. “I learned all this stuff from it.”
A national tour of the 9 to 5 musical crossed the United States in 2010, followed by a run in the UK in 2012. An updated remake of the movie was in the works as of 2018, but in late 2019, Parton shared that the film likely wouldn’t be made after all.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Angela Stefano.
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