Her film 9 to 5 is a feminist classic. But she won’t label herself one – and she doesn’t see eye to eye with her former co-stars

When Dolly Parton was 19, instead of the frankly unbelievable 73 she is now, she and a girlfriend travelled from Tennessee to New York City. But, because this was her first proper trip to the city, it was one of the rare times in her life when she didn’t have a clear sense of where she was or where she wanted to go. And so they ended up in what she describes today as “a bad area”. “I think we were on 52nd Street and, because I looked like a tramp – a country girl, all overdone and tacky – this man thought I was a prostitute,” she recalls today, her signature blond bouffant bouncing with her giggles. But 19-year-old Parton, even when lost in the big city, was unflappable. When the man wouldn’t leave her alone she whipped out a little pistol her father had given her in case of emergencies: “If you touch me one more time, you’ve had it!” she shouted.

The man disappeared into midtown Manhattan, but the encounter was later immortalised in Parton’s first, and probably most enduring movie, the 1980 feminist classic 9 to 5. It is used in the scene that establishes Parton’s character, when she takes a gun out of her purse, points it at her sexist boss, Mr Hart (Dabney Coleman), and tells him if he doesn’t stop harassing her she will turn him “from a rooster to a hen with one shot”.

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