Dolly Parton Shares The Biggest Disappointment In Her Career

Dolly Parton has experienced a truly massive level of success. Over the course of her career, she's released dozens of albums, received a total of 50 Grammy nominations (per the Grammys website), starred in numerous successful films, founded her own theme park, earned the title of a Living Legend from the Library of Congress (per Britannica), and so much more.

But Dolly's life and career certainly haven't been all smooth sailing. Born one of 12 children in rural Appalachia, per Slate, she had a difficult childhood, growing up in a one-room home without access to a doctor, heat, or soap. She soon began playing music, appearing on radio and TV shows starting at 10 years old. After graduating from high school, she took a bus to Nashville, where she signed with a label and soon began releasing hit songs, per the Library of Congress. Eventually Porter Wagoner invited her to be his "girl singer" on his TV show, and from there her star began to rise exponentially.

From possibly writing the iconic songs "I Will Always Love You" and "Jolene" on the same day (per Outsider), to supporting Black Lives Matter, to founding a charity called Dolly Parton's Imagination Library — which donates over 5 million books each month to children under 5, per its website — Dolly's contributions to the cultural landscape have been astounding.

Dolly Parton names her biggest professional disappointment

In an interview with USA Today in 2020, Dolly discussed the biggest disappointment she faced in her career. "Years and years ago, I had a variety show called 'Dolly,' and it got so much hype," she said in the interview. "People were expecting so much. The producers and all the Hollywood people, they were trying to bring variety back. But see, I was not that type of person to do a Hollywood-type show, and I kept wanting to be myself. The show didn't do that well, and it didn't last too long."

But in traditional Dolly fashion, she found a way to see a silver lining in the situation. "That was a big disappointment, but I was almost relieved in a way, because I always pray that everything will go out of my life that ain't right," she concluded.

The show, which aired on ABC-TV, ran from 1987-1988, and Parton received $44 million for a two-year contract, per Dolly Parton Fandom. However, a steady decline in ratings led to the show's cancellation following its first season's last episode. (The first episode is posted on YouTube.)

But one failure could never dim the shine of the effervescent, nearly universally beloved Dolly Parton. "You cannot live in this world and be successful and not have heartaches, troubles, disappointments," Parton told USA Today. "It's how you deal with it. I've had a lot of dreams, and most of them have come true, but a lot of them have not."