Dolly Parton Details How Her Time on The Porter Wagoner Show Shaped Her Career

by Jennifer Shea
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In a new interview with Vanity Fair, country music star Dolly Parton talks about her prolific career and the show that launched it all. 

How Parton Got Her Start

That was “The Porter Wagoner Show,” a variety show that ran from 1961 until 1981. The show was filmed in Nashville

At the time she met him, Parton recalls, Porter Wagoner had the number one syndicated country show in the nation. Parton had been sending songs to Wagoner hoping to make an impression. Then some things changed on Wagoner’s show.

“He had lost the girl singer, Norma Jean, that had been a big star on his show for years,” Parton said. “She was gonna marry and move back to Oklahoma City. And so he was looking for a new girl singer. He’d seen me on some local TV, and there was a lot of talk in town about the new girl in town – that was me at the time. And I was very excited that I was stirring up a little ruckus around town.” 

A Fateful Meeting

She heard from Wagoner, who asked her to stop by and see him. But Parton didn’t yet know what it was about.

“Porter called me down to talk to him, and I thought that it was probably to record some songs that I had been sending to him and to Norma Jean,” Parton recounted. “So I went into Porter’s office and I said, ‘Well hello, I’m Dolly,’ and he said, ‘Yes you are, I know all about you.’ And, ‘I’ve got an opening for a girl singer on my show, would you be interested?’” 

Parton didn’t take long to consider the offer. 

“I said, ‘Well, I’ll have to think about that. Yes I will.’ So you know, it was that quick. So anyhow, that’s when I became a member of Porter’s show,” she concluded. “And it was really that show that really got me over the moon as far as my career. That really kinda started it all.” 

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