Remember Dolly Parton’s Most Controversial Movie Role?
Dolly Parton is as sweet as homemade apple pie, but she wound up mired in controversy over one of her film roles.
Parton launched her acting career in the 1980 mega-hit 9 to 5, in which she starred with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. She was poised for a very big screen career when she accepted a starring role in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, a 1982 film adaptation of the 1978 Broadway play of the same name. It hit theaters on July 23, 1982.
Parton played Mona Stangley, who runs a brothel called the Chicken Ranch in a small Texas town and has had a long-term affair with the local sheriff, Ed Earl Dodd, played by Burt Reynolds. Dom DeLuise played Melvin P. Thorpe, a national TV personality who runs a segment on the small town and exposes the fact that a brothel operates there, which causes all manner of trouble for the main characters.
The musical comedy featured much of the same music from the Broadway production, but Parton contributed "Sneakin' Around," which she performed as a duet with Reynolds, and a shortened version of her signature hit, "I Will Always Love You," also appears in the film. Released as a single from the film's soundtrack, the song reached No. 1 for the second time.
The movie's title proved controversial upon its release. "Whorehouse" was considered obscene in some parts of the country, where the title was either altered to The Best Little Cathouse in Texas for print ads or bleeped for TV ads. Parton herself even referred to the film as The Best Little Chicken House in Texas in some of her interviews to promote the project, but those difficulties didn't affect the film's reception. It opened at No. 1 at the box office and went on to earn nearly $70 million during its initial theatrical run, while Parton earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical).
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