Dolly (TV series)

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Dolly Parton and Miss Piggy performing a musical number in a 1987 episode of Dolly
Created byDolly Parton
Sandy Gallin
Written byJohn Aylesworth
Jack Burns
Buddy Sheffield
Buz Kohan
Fannie Flagg
Brett Butler
StarringDolly Parton
Country of originUSA
No. of episodes22
Producer(s)Nick Vanoff
Running time60 minutes (per episode)
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 27, 1987 –
May 10, 1988

Dolly is an American variety show starring Dolly Parton that aired on ABC from September 27, 1987 to May 10, 1988.


The show was an attempt at a traditional variety show, featuring music, comedy skits and various guest stars. It had been roughly a decade since the last successful variety series, The Carol Burnett Show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and Cher had gone off the air, and it was regarded as a gamble to try to revive the genre. Banking on Parton's talent and appeal, however, ABC paid the performer a reported $44 million for a two-year contract.

The first episode of Dolly attracted the largest audience for any series premiere until Undercover Boss in 2010.[1] It was acknowledged that a great deal of talent and work went into producing the show, but the initially high ratings during the first few episodes steadily declined, and despite many format changes and other attempts to create interest, ratings did not improve. Halfway through the run, Parton, who retained creative control over the show, took command and jettisoned many of the lavish, splashy segments that she felt were not working in favor of a more "down home" feel. By this time, however, many of the initial viewers had already stopped watching. To bolster the odds they brought in veteran variety show writers Buddy Sheffield, John Aylesworth, Jack Burns and producer Nick Vanoff. Around this same time, Parton also hired then-relatively-unknown Brett Butler as one of the writers. Bruce Vilanch and Fannie Flagg were also on the writing staff.

Guest stars included Tammy Wynette, Merle Haggard, Tyne Daly, Bruce Willis, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Tom Petty, Tom Selleck, the Neville Brothers, Dudley Moore, and Oprah Winfrey. Tyne Daly's appearance on the show, in which she sang a duet with Parton, directly led to Daly being cast in the lead role in the 1989 Broadway production of Gypsy.[2]

The opening theme song was Parton's 1978 hit, "Baby I'm Burning" (later to be replaced with "Hoedown-Showdown"); as with her 1976 series, Parton closed each week with her signature song, "I Will Always Love You."

Though most of the show's episodes were taped in ABC's studios in Los Angeles, a number of "special" episodes were recorded on location, including one in Hawaii, one in New Orleans, one in Nashville (featuring most of the cast of the Grand Ole Opry), and a Thanksgiving episode in Parton's hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, featuring most of her extended family.

Partial list of guests[edit]


  1. ^ "CBS's Super Sunday=super Week". The Futon Critic. February 9, 2010. Retrieved January 22, 2019.
  2. ^ "Bruce Vilanch on getting Tyne Daly on Dolly Parton's show (Archive of American Television interview)". YouTube. August 2, 2016.
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