Dolly Parton, America’s sweetheart, did in fact help fund Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine research. Countless news outlets have covered the singer’s contribution, bringing some cheer to an unprecedented holiday season. However, Parton’s contribution is not her first meaningful philanthropic endeavor. Throughout her career, the Grammy-winning artist has been involved in many game-changing projects. Here, L’OFFICIEL revists some of Parton's most exciting entrepreneurial, sartorial, and philanthropic moments.
Unseating Mariah Carey as The Queen of Christmas
Parton’s newest album may just be 2020’s saving grace. On October 2 the prolific singer-songwriter released A Holly Dolly Christmas, a holiday album complete with features from Michael Bublé, Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, Willie Nelson, and Jimmy Fallon. Parton will also host a Christmas special by the same name on CBS, airing on December 6, which promises intimate performances by the artist. And even beyond that, the singer also stars in Netflix’s new Christmas on the Square flick, which follows a Christmas Carol-like plot and features 14 original songs by Parton.
Helping Millions of Children to Love Reading
In 1995, Parton launched the Imagination Library, a book gifting program that mails free books to children who have yet to begin school. The program has sent over 100 million books to children in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and Ireland. Parton started the program in her own hometown of Sevier County, Tennessee. By sending monthly age-appropriate, interesting books, the singer hoped to help each child in the county learn to love reading. The program was such a success that it now sends over 1 million books out to children each month across the world.
Writing One of the Most Famous and Meaningful Fashion Songs
Parton’s song “Coat of Many Colors” details her experiences wearing a jacket her mother crafted from a box of rags. Parton sings of how much she loved the multi-colored, unique coat, even though others may not have realized its beauty. The moving ballad pays homage to the singer’s mother and reminds listeners of the beauty one can find in seemingly undesirable objects.
Rocking The Most Fabulously Extra Gown for 'Cher… Special'
Parton and fellow icon Cher wore incredible coordinated gowns for Cher’s 1978 special Cher… Special. Though every one of Parton’s bedazzled outfits are extraordinary, her feathered, black ball gown is the perfect embodiment of the disco era’s over-the-top glamor. Not to mention Parton won an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress in a Variety or Musical Special for her appearance.
Founding a Successful Production Company
Parton teamed up with Sandy Gallin, her former manager, in 1986 to establish Sandollar Productions. The production company is responsible for the production of popular TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for which Parton is an uncredited producer, and the recent Netflix anthology Heartstrings, which won a GLAAD media award for its episode “Two Doors Down.”
Making an Amusement Park About Herself
In 1986, Dollywood, a Dolly Parton-themed amusement park, opened its doors to the public. It is now one of the biggest tourist attractions in Tennessee, drawing millions of visitors each year. The park not only has traditional rides and games, but it also exposes visitors to music native to Parton's home in the Smoky Mountains. Parton herself often makes visits to the park to greet visitors.
Any Time She Wears a Cowgirl Hat
Parton’s elaborate outfits often include Western-influenced accents. Cowgirl hats often top off the performer’s elaborate looks. Every year the singer and her wardrobe designer Steve Summer work together to create almost 300 distinct eye catching ensembles, which often feature a plethora of sequins.
When Her Face Graced A Gucci Jacket
Becoming a Feminist Icon
While Parton dismisses being a feminist herself, her actions–and music–say otherwise. In the 2019 podcast Dolly Parton's America, host Jad Abumrad speaks with Parton about her lyrics that often tell the stories of women opressed by their partners or other societal factors. They also speak about Parton's appearance, which has been objectified by notable TV hosts and the public throughout her careers. Parton takes agency of her physical appearance, saying that she'll display it as she pleases. Beyond this, Parton is a trailblazer for women not only in country music, but music at large, and has been cited by figures from Björn to Nicki Minaj.
When She Inadvertently Made A New TikTok Trend