Jane Fonda once drank moonshine with Dolly Parton and says she “was drunk for 10 days and didn’t know it!”
What an all-time great Dolly Parton Story.
She has been friends with actress Jane Fonda for quite some time since they starred in the icon 9 to 5 Movie from 1980.
And in 2017, Jane came along The Late Late Show with James Cordenwhere he asked her about her time when she toured with Dolly years ago.
Dolly wanted to show her what life on the road was like, and her first stop sounded like an incredible experience in and of itself when Dolly had Jane sing backing for her at a performance of the Grand Ole Opry:
“Do you know how the journey began? She flew me to Nashville and let me sing backing for her at the Grand Ole Opry.”
But that’s far from the best part of the story…
After they finished their Opry duties, Dolly wanted to give Jane a taste of life in Appalachia and what she knew as a child.
So they made a pit stop at Dolly’s cousin’s house in the Ozarks, an obviously different mountainous region than where Dolly grew up in East Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains, but for all intents and purposes here it’s close enough.
They pulled Mrs. Dolly’s tour bus right up to the moonlight to get Jane’s first taste of white lightning:
“But then we got on her tour bus and one of the first stops was with her cousins who are still in the Ozarks because she wanted me to know what really good white flash is like.
And she said the only good thing went through a filter three times. She said, ‘My cousin is four times as tall.’”
But if you’ve ever tasted real moonshine out of a holler (sorry, not the stuff you can buy at a liquor store), then you probably know it doesn’t take long before you start feeling it.
I mean, it’s pure alcohol and nothing more or less if we’re talking about traditional, plain moonshine, so it makes sense…some would even call it medicine, but I digress.
And as perfectly illustrated in this story, to get the good stuff you have to know someone… someone like Dolly Parton apparently:
“And so she taught me how to put your thumb in the jug and pull it up, and I didn’t know I was drunk. I was drunk for 10 days and didn’t know it until I got home!’
You don’t know when it’s really good.”
Isn’t that the truth.
She went on to say that after the tour ended, Dolly’s husband Carl Dean put together a little video montage of their travels, which Jane hilariously summed up like this:
“All I can tell you is that her husband cut a video of the trip for us and looking at the video I realize we had no idea we were as drunk as we were.
But it was really fun, that was it.”
And after hearing this story, I have a new item on my bucket list… drink moonshine in the mountains with Dolly Parton.
Can you even imagine that?
I really don’t think it can get any better…
Dolly’s father made moonshine
Dolly’s father Robert made his own moonshine long ago to supplement her family’s income when she lived in a one-bedroom house with her parents and 11 siblings.
In her book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, Dolly says her mother, who was a very strict Christian, hated that he did this:
“My daddy did moonshine for a while and mom didn’t like it.
Actually, he didn’t want that, but people do moonlighting in the mountains because they need the income. So Daddy did that for a while, and so did a lot of my relatives.”
And something like that is another trade that’s really not that uncommon. Although it’s less and less popular in modern times because alcohol can now be legally purchased from liquor stores, tons of people did it illegally in the mountains of east Tennessee and west North Carolina, mostly during Prohibition.
Stella Parton, Dolly’s sister, said her father would also hide whiskey around the house “to let off his own steam”.
But Dolly’s mother, Avie Lee, hated it too, telling all her children that drinking alcohol was a sin and that their father “would go straight to hell” for it.
This eventually made Dolly and her siblings even more curious about it, so one Sunday they stole some of their father’s whiskey and drank it… get that… on the way to church. Somehow none of her parents ever found out about it.
And apparently just a taste wasn’t enough. Some of Dolly’s brothers, along with an older brother of one of their friends, decided to set up their own still and used their mother’s fruit jars to store them.
Eventually, her father found out about it and, as a passage in the book states, stopped it immediately Smart Blonde: The Life of Dolly Parton:
“The project was hatched with a friend’s older brother, who saw the commercial opportunity and was happy to provide technical advice and assistance with the construction of the alembic.
The girls also noticed that the boys, like the men, had some of the coarser customs of chewing tobacco, spitting and swearing.”
Dolly even wrote a song called “Daddy’s Moonshine Still” that was included on her 1971 album. Joshuaand was inspired by her experience growing up:
https://www.whiskeyriff.com/2023/02/01/jane-fonda-once-drank-moonshine-with-dolly-parton-says-she-was-drunk-for-10-days-and-didnt-know-it/ Jane Fonda once drank moonshine with Dolly Parton and says she “was drunk for 10 days and didn’t know it!”