Dolly Parton Says Hollywood Was The “Most Depressing” Place She’d Ever Seen: “It Was Just Horrible”

Dolly Parton country music
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Dolly Parton is a global superstar, but she’s not a big fan of Hollywood.

She’s starred in plenty of blockbuster films, like Rhinestone, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Steel Magnolias and of course, the one we’re talking about today, 9 to 5.

Dolly famously penned the title track of 9 to 5 while on set, and it went on to become one of her signature songs and a mega crossover hit.

But in her 2020 book, Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, Dolly explained that her time in Hollywood wasn’t anything like what she thought it would be.

She actually had an apartment out there to make it easier when she would come for different projects, and of course, she also played some of the smaller venues there like the Roxy as a young country artist trying to make it.

Dolly had dreams of it being a very glamorous place, but in reality, she wrote that it was “the most depressed place I’d ever seen”:

“I think being in Hollywood opened up a whole other world for me as a songwriter.

I always thought that Hollywood was this great, glamorous place — a Disneyland with all the stars you see on TV. It was a real eye-opener the first time I went there.

It was the most depressed place I’d ever seen. Down on Hollywood Boulevard there were all these people on the streets, homeless people and pitiful, crazy nuts running around. Oh my Lord, it was just a horrible setting.”

Of course, Dolly’s knows what it’s like to go without, growing up dirt poor in the mountains of east Tennessee with her parents and 11 siblings, though they were certainly rich where it counted — with love and happiness in the simplicity that can bring.

Dolly said that filming 9 to 5 opened up her eyes to the fact that some of the actors with very small roles were extremely talented and had worked their whole careers to try and make it big, through ultimately, they saw very little success in terms of being a famous actor actress:

“When we first went there as musicians playing in places like the Roxy and staying at the Holiday Inn, I felt I was in a really strange town. There was weird craziness. It was not what I thought it was going to be.

Even when I had the chance to live in better quarters, I could see how depressing it still could be. All the rich people live in other areas. So I got to where I could see the good side of it. Still, I would see these young people who’d come there and be willing to sell their souls to make it in show business.

They’ll do whatever they have to do, like the ‘casting couch.’ If their plans don’t work out , they wind up selling themselves on the streets to get money for shooting dope.”

And being the iconic songwriter that she is, it led Dolly to pen the song “Hollywood Potters,” which was inspired by everything she saw on the aforementioned movie set:

“I wrote ‘Hollywood Potters’ when I was doing the movie ‘9 to 5.’ This one kid, an extra, killed himself.

He was a struggling actor who believed himself to be a finer actor than to be working as ‘atmosphere.’ as they called it. I think this song really nails what Hollywood’s about.

It’s a ‘dungeon of drama.’ That’s what it really is, a ‘dealer in dreams.'”

The single was included on her 24th solo studio album Heartbreak Express, and encapsulates all of the sadness empty, unfulfilled dreams can bring.

You can take the girl out of Tennessee, but you can’t take the Tennessee out of the girl, so to speak, and Dolly has always stayed true to who she is, never straying from that humble upbringing.

It’s the reason she’s become an icon writing songs like this…

“Hollywood Potters”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock