The 10 Best Dolly Parton Cameos, Ranked
BY NEVILLE NAIDOO
October 14, 2023
She’s been a legend of country music for decades, but Dolly Parton has also appeared in many films and TV shows too. These are her best acting cameos.
Most famous for her country music and highly publicized physical appearance, Dolly Parton also has a whopping 400+ appearances across TV, including appearances in a dozen or so feature films. She’s been a beloved fixture of the entertainment industry across multiple generations now, endearing herself to many different audiences in that time.
Having won numerous prestigious awards, she’s become an icon of country music. Her fame and standing in that world are difficult to put into context for anyone who may not be familiar with just how big she is. However, a good example is that as famous as Miley Cyrus’ father, Billy Ray Cyrus is, even at the height of his fame as a country singer, he was still only an opening act for Dolly’s own concerts.
Their closeness led to her being named Miley Cyrus’ godmother, and they’ve shared a famous bond ever since. Aside from her numerous concerts, talk show appearances, and famous films, she’s also well known for having made many cameo appearances across film and television. Here’s a look back at Dolly Parton’s best cameos over the years.
10. The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom
Being the kind of larger than life figure Dolly Parton is, her fame and success made her an object of idolatry the world over. The 2011 coming-of-age Canadian film, The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom, perfectly captured just how big a star she is since the film’s entire plot centered on a girl who was obsessed with her.
In the film, the teenage protagonist, Elizabeth, is on the cusp of puberty and is excited at the prospect of developing as buxomly as she believes Dolly Parton did. When a school project leads her to learn that she isn’t her parent’s biological child, she’s hurt and leans more heavily into her fantasy of wishing Dolly Parton could be her real mother since she idolizes her so much. A sweet film, the real Dolly Parton does a voice cameo as herself in it.
9. Hollywood to Dollywood
In another example of Dolly Parton’s star power and the kind of followers she inspires, Hollywood to Dollywood was a documentary film with a Dolly theme. Playing at a host of different film festivals, it followed identical twin brothers Gary and Larry Lane, and they travel across the country in an attempt to bring a screenplay they wrote to Dolly Parton’s attention.
Their screenplay specifically included a role for Parton, and they travel over 2000 miles to try and get it to her. In an amazing moment, Dolly herself does indeed show up in the film, making a cameo appearance that gives it so much more poignancy. In reality, she also allowed the men to use her image and music after recognizing their efforts to meet her.
Despite all her fame and immense popularity from her music, Dolly Parton has also always been a superstar in general. She was beloved for her humor and overall as a sex symbol and a wide-ranging celebrity known worldwide for everything from her music and acting to her famous chest, as the BBC aptly summed up in a piece on her.
“The other Dolly, the one I grew up with, was a jovial, self-deprecating talk-show regular and spoofable symbol of US excess. One example of her pop-culture ubiquity is the 1981 Two Ronnies sketch in which Ronnie Barker donned a platinum-blonde wig and fake bosom to play “Polly Parton”. Jokes about Parton’s chest, many of which she made herself, became such a trope in British culture that when scientists cloned a sheep from a mammary gland cell in 1996, they called it Dolly. No wonder her songwriting chops were eclipsed.
8. The Simpsons
Anyone who’s anyone in Hollywood has had a turn making a celebrity cameo on The Simpsons. The show has been an iconic part of screens for decades and boasted a run most shows could only dream of. Despite its longevity, the show has often come under fire for certain controversies over the years.
However, it’s also remained a cult favorite and a part of many generations now. In an episode titled Sunday, Cruddy Sunday, Dolly Parton joined the long and impressive line of celebrities who performed a cameo voice role for the show. Like others, she played herself, and her unmistakable voice and recognizable figure was just as apparent, even in an animated form.
Bette Midler’s short-lived sitcom, Bette, which parodied a version of her own life as a celebrity, may not have lasted long, but still had some pretty memorable moments. The show only featured 18 episodes but was critically acclaimed and nominated for every prestigious TV award around.
It was also packed with some great celebrity appearances and featured some big names such as Lindsay Lohan and Danny DeVito, among many others. In a memorable episode, Dolly Parton made a hilarious cameo where Bette becomes jealous of her. Like Midler, Parton played a character similar to her real self in the episode, and they worked together on a performance for a Halloween special. Despite Bette’s ‘jealousy’ in the episode, the two sing many classic songs together for the special.
6. The Orville
Created by Seth McFarlane, The Orville follows a spaceship during the 25th century as its crew comes across various adventures during their interplanetary travels. The show lasted three seasons and was fairly successful in that time, with seasons two and three receiving critical acclaim.
In the show, Dolly Parton has always enjoyed a degree of pop culture influence since it often featured her songs. Another aspect of her fame was highlighted by the character, Heveena, who is a fan of hers. In the eighth episode of season three, Dolly Parton appeared on the show in a cameo appearance that delighted fans. She interacts with Heveena and even sings one of her famous songs from the album, “Blue Smoke”, making the episode title, Midnight Blue, all the more poignant.
5. The Beverly Hillbillies
Based on a TV series from the ’60s, the comedy film, The Beverly Hillbillies may not have won any great acclaim, but it was still a wacky and fun comedy. It revolved around a poor, rural man named Jed. After firing his gun off at his property, Jed inadvertently strikes oil and becomes a billionaire.
This opens his life up to all manner of new experiences, people, and a fair few hilarious antics. The film also featured many memorable cameo appearances in it. The likes of Buddy Ebsen, who played the original Jed in the series, and Zsa Zsa Gabor appeared in it. However, Dolly Parton’s appearance was especially memorable. She makes an unexpected appearance at Jed’s birthday, making it clear how excessive his new life has become since she sings Happy Birthday to him, and even cracks a joke at how they spent a fortune to get her to do it.
4. Grace and Frankie
Grace and Frankie was a highly popular sitcom on Netflix. It originally aired for seven seasons and starred Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the leads. The pair play the eponymous characters, one a retired makeup mogul, the other a free-spirited artist. Their husbands, Robert and Sol, were both successful divorce lawyers.
Although Grace and Frankie are both very different women and never particularly liked each other, they’re forced together when their husbands announce that they’re in love with each other and leave the women. With Sam Waterstone and Martin Sheen playing the husbands, the show, and its great cast proved very popular and was highly acclaimed, with some of its seasons receiving 100% critical ratings.
Adding to its appeal, in the series finale, Dolly Parton made a long-awaited cameo as ‘Agnes,’ finally joining her friends on the show and completing an amazing reunion between the three who all once starred together in the office satire film 9 to 5.
A very popular sitcom in its time, Reba aired for six seasons between 2001 and 2007. It stars Reba McEntire as the title character. Playing an aging southern woman, the show follows her wisecracking antics after her husband impregnates his dental hygienist, who is half her age.
Adding to Reba’s woes, her teenage daughter also falls pregnant with her football-playing boyfriend and wants to get married. Full of sassy, hilarious wisecracks from Reba and plenty of Southern charm, the show won a host of awards and was highly acclaimed during its run. In the latter seasons, during an episode titled Reba’s Rules of Real Estate, Dolly Parton made a memorable cameo appearance playing a character named Dolly Majors.
2. Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
After the popularity of Sandra Bullock’s very funny action-comedy, Miss Congeniality, the film’s sequel, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, followed suit. After her undercover assignment infiltrating the Miss United States pageant in the first film, Agent Gracie Hart is now too recognizable for field work and has to take a job as “the face of the FBI.”
Leaning into her position, Gracie gets a stylist and starts making public appearances and doing interviews as a pseudo-publicist for the bureau. However, when two of her friends from the first film are kidnapped, Gracie heads to Vegas to help out. There, she learns that the kidnapping took place with the help of a Daily Parton impersonator. Thinking that she’s tracked down the person, in a hilarious scene, Gracie pounces on a person she believes to be the impersonator. As it turns out, that person was actually the real Dolly Parton.
1. Hannah Montana
It seems ages ago now that Miley Cyrus was once the fresh-faced, wholesome star of Hannah Montana. So much has happened since, with the young singer becoming a global superstar as an artist but also seemingly doing everything she can to shed that wholesome image for the much rawer, highly sexualized one she’s more famous, and infamous, for now.
However, during her time on the show, there were many great moments and a lot of family bonding, too, since her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, also starred in the show. As a great touch, Dolly Parton also made a few cameo appearances on the show. Playing “Aunt Dolly,” her role was a reflection of the real-life bond and mentorship she represented in Miley’s life as her godmother. Though it seems ages ago now, those appearances once delighted fans of the show and country music fans in general, given what a legend of that world Dolly Parton was and remains.