Jake (DOLLY PARTON) does a slow burn at an obnoxious remark from her boss… (Twentieth Century Fox )
With the huge rise in popularity of young female country stars such as Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood taking home Grammys and other awards and climbing to No. 1 on Billboard charts, it's difficult to imagine a time when the women of country music did not appeal to such a wide audience. But before Swift, Underwood and Miranda Lambert, there were a handful of women like Dolly Parton paving the way for female country stars.
"Dolly created a very powerful and realistic role model picture of artist and songwriter for aspiring young female country artists. She showed what could be achieved by challenging the gatekeepers," says Chet Flippo, editorial director of Country Music Television.
"In the 1940s and 1950s, absolutely no female artists were represented in the top 25 country songs. Then in the 1970s, there were six women represented — one of whom was Dolly Parton. She helped rip apart the gingham ceiling that had relegated women country singers to secondary status."
On Saturday, Cinefamily honors this sassy country star at the Silent Movie Theatre by hosting the "Dolly Parton All-Nite 9-To-5'er" event. The screenings (beginning at 9 p.m. and carrying on until the break of dawn) include three of her most well-known films — "9 to 5," "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," and "Rhinestone," as well as many clips of rare television appearances by the queen of country music.
Cinefamily knows all too well that an all-night event in honor of Parton requires an extra dollop of glitz, which is why the party extends out onto the back patio, with a bedazzling station, country music tunes, a hair station in which guests can craft their favorite Parton coiffures, a bar and a fire pit.
Suki-Rose Etter, director of events at Cinefamily, explains some of Parton's appeal: "You get all the fun and spectacle of extreme femininity but with a self-awareness and strength that makes it not just acceptable but something to revel in. Underneath all the flash-trash is a magnetic powerhouse, a hardworking and extremely talented artist, and her charm is undeniable — I consider Dolly to be a feminist icon."
An icon who left behind her life on a rundown farm and, against all odds, moved to Nashville to pursue her dreams of becoming a country singer. What followed was a streak of No. 1 country hits in the mid-1970s, from "Jolene" to "Love is Like a Butterfly," seven Grammy awards, nine Country Music Assn. Awards and seven Academy of Country Music Awards.
Having succeeded in country music, Parton decided to take on Hollywood, debuting in "9 to 5," for which she won two Grammy Awards, a People's Choice Award and received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. She went on to star in films such as "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," "Rhinestone," and "Steel Magnolias."
"Dolly Parton is one of the most successful crossover artists in country history — that's no accident," says Hadrian Belove, head programmer at Cinefamily. "At a certain point, she decided to take the mainstream by storm with a talk show, an acting career, R&B covers and more — and it worked. Making a big Hollywood movie with costars like Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin was a great way to get out of a cultural ghetto."
Cinefamily expects to fill the 180-seat Silent Movie Theatre, relying on avid fans who need little other encouragement to show up in their best sequined attire although the evening's overall feel will be relaxed. Though the evening will focus on the previously mentioned three films, Etter reveals that her team has been digging deep to find many good-quality Parton rarities. Most will be kept a surprise until Saturday — but Etter did divulge one gem: A clip of Parton singing a duet with Pee Wee Herman.
Though many are fascinated and drawn in by the Country Music Hall of Famer's strong and secure nature, what seems to resonate with so many people are Parton's humble roots and down-to-earth demeanor. Flippo recounts his experience on the road with her as a writer for Rolling Stone magazine.
"I was impressed by her smarts, her drive and her intuition. She knew exactly what the hell she was doing. If she had a manager back then, I never saw him or her. And there were no publicists hanging around. It was just Dolly on the road, with her road manager and her band. Whenever I needed to interview her, I would call her motel room and she would say, "Sure. C'mon up."
This Saturday it will be "just Dolly" once again. Eight fabulous, bejeweled, sparkly, high-energy hours of just Dolly.