6 Facts About Dolly Parton’s TV Movie ‘Coat Of Many Colors’

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Dolly’s Beloved Song Remade Into TV Movie

Dolly Parton‘s song “Coat of Many Colors” has been a fan-favorite since its release. The sweet tune tells the story of Dolly’s childhood growing up in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Through the song, we learned of Dolly’s poor upbringing, but how she felt as rich as she could be because of the love in her family.

The centerpiece of the song is a coat that Dolly’s mama, Avie Lee, sewed for her out of a bunch of scraps and rags. Avie Lee likened Dolly’s coat to that of Joseph’s in the Bible, which is how she came to call it her coat of many colors.

In 2015, Dolly’s beloved song served as the source of inspiration for a television movie about her life. The Coat of Many Colors film debuted on NBC on December 10, 2015, and only furthered Dolly’s incredible legacy.

Millions tuned in to watch the film, which shattered records and led to the creation of an equally well-received sequel, Christmas of Many Colors. Audiences have grown attached to the cast and characters in Dolly’s movies, and watching them has now become part of some families’ holiday traditions.

As much as people love Dolly’s Coat of Many Colors movie, there’s many things about it that most don’t know. We’ve put together a list of six fun facts about the movie that you likely had no clue about before. Just click the button below to learn what they are!

1. Dolly Didn’t Recognize Jennifer Nettles When She Auditioned

From the get-go, Dolly had a specific person in mind to play her father, Robert. As she told Nash Country Daily, she felt that Ricky Schroder would be the perfect fit for the role. Her feelings were right on point, because Ricky was cast as Robert and has earned great praise for his performance in both of the Coat of Many Colors films.

But when it came to casting her mother, Dolly didn’t have anyone specific in mind. Many talented actresses sent in audition tapes for the role, but one brunette beauty caught Dolly’s attention right away. It was Jennifer Nettles, who is a country music artist who got her start in Sugarland.

Even though Dolly was drawn to Jennifer’s audition, she admits that she had no idea who she was! Jennifer had darkened her hair to match Avie’s brunette hue, and she resembled her so much that Dolly could only see her mama.

I didn’t even realize it was her,” Dolly said. “We were just looking and I said ‘that’s mama, that’s mama!’ They said ‘do you know who that is?’ and I said, ‘It’s mama!’ The rest is history because I thought Jennifer was so perfect.

Jennifer ended up getting the part, and like Ricky, has received immense praise for her portrayal of Avie Lee.

2. Only A Small Portion Of The Movie Was Filmed In Tennessee

Although Dolly grew up in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, most of the film was shot elsewhere. As revealed in a behind-the-scenes article published by WBIR NBC 10 News, most of the film was shot in Covington and Conyers, Georgia.

There was a small portion of the movie that was filmed in Tennessee. The introductory and closing scenes were both shot at Dolly’s Dollywood theme park, which is located in Pigeon Forge.

Before we knew any better, we never would have guessed that the movie was shot in Georgia instead of Tennessee!

3. Dolly’s Sister Was The Official Parton Representative On Set

Dolly served as one of the film’s executive producers, but wasn’t always able to be on set. That’s where her younger sister, Stella, came in.

You likely knew that Stella played the town gossip/shopkeeper Corla Bass in the film. But you probably had no idea that Stella’s role was far greater than that. As the only Parton on set most of the time, she served as an official representative of the family.

Stella’s role was to make sure that her family, and particularly their faith, was portrayed accurately throughout filming. “It was very, very important to me that everyone see the film and the honest, sincere form of worship that I grew up with,” she said in an interview about her character for dollyparton.com. “I wanted all the actors to also see that. They all got into it in a very sincere way. I loved it, and I thought it was very, very special. I believe people will see it as a high point in the film.

People certainly did see it as a high point in the film, all thanks to Stella! 

4. Jennifer’s Favorite Scenes Were The Sad Ones

Coat of Many Colors has plenty of happy moments in it, but there are a fair share of sad ones as well. The greatest tragedy in the film is when Avie Lee prematurely gives birth to a baby boy and he passes away. Throughout the film, the entire family tries to cope and come to terms with their loss.

The loss had the greatest impact on Avie Lee, and Jennifer did a superb job at portraying the heartbreak she felt. But as emotional as those moments were to film, Jennifer shared in an interview that they were actually her favorite scenes.

Interestingly enough, my favorite moments were the most painful ones,” she said. “The funeral scene in particular. How cathartic. I hope its rawness touches people and reminds them that their own losses are seen and understood.

People certainly were touched by that scene, since almost everyone knows what it’s like to lose a loved one. Jennifer’s astounding performance only added further to the power of that scene, and the entire film as a whole.

5. The Actresses Who Played Little Dolly And Her Best Friend Became Friends In Real Life

In both of the Coat of Many Colors films, “Little Dolly” has been played by the spunky and talented Alyvia Alyn Lind. Her spunk is perfect for her role as Dolly, since she says the two of them are equally “sassy.”

One of the most important characters in the films is Dolly’s best friend, Judy Ogle. In real life, Dolly and Judy have been best friends since they were young. Coat of Many Colors shows how their friendship got its start and continued to grow into something special.

As it turns out, Alyvia and Hannah Nordberg, who played Judy in the films, also became best friends in real life. Alyvia spoke about their friendship during an interview for dollyparton.com, saying they had an “instant connection.”

We were BFF’s on the very first day,” she said.

That real-life friendship translates well into their portrayals of Dolly and Judy, that’s for sure!

6. Dolly Went Out Of Her Way To Make Ricky Feel Special On Set

As mentioned earlier, Dolly felt from the start that Ricky was the perfect person to play her father Robert. This is something that Ricky was well-aware of, and he felt a tremendous sense of pressure to portray Robert as accurately as possible.

I wanted to do a good job in my character for Dolly and her family,” he said during an interview about the film. “This movie is so dear and important to her that I really wanted to honor who her father was and their relationship, because she just adored him.”

As we know now from the praise Ricky has received for his part in both Coat of Many Colors films, he has done a great job at bringing Robert to life on the screen. Dolly noticed this during filming, and she went out of her way to let him know exactly that.

My favorite takeaway [from the film was]… probably a note that Dolly wrote me one day when we were in production,” Ricky said. “She said she had been watching the dailies, you know the work from the previous days. She was so glad she chose me to play her father. That was a pretty special moment to get that letter from her.”

The entire cast of the Coat of Many Colors is quite special. It’s been a joy to watch them in both movies, and we hope to see even more from them in the future.

Which of these six facts surprised you the most about Coat of Many Colors? We’d love to hear from you!