This day in Willie Nelson history: ‘Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story (1/22/95)

On January 22, 1995, ‘Big Dreams & Broken Hearts:  The Dottie West Story was released, featuring narration by Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton.  

 The movie chronicles the life and rise to fame of country music singer Dottie West (Lee). It starts off with West as a young child living with her abusive father, then leading to her first big break on the Landmark Jamboree television show in Ohio in the early 50s. The movie then moves to the 60s where West skyrockets to fame as a country music singer with the Top 10 hit “Here Comes My Baby Back Again”, which then leads to West winning a Grammy Award in 1965, becoming the first female country singer to win a Grammy. The movie continues providing the highs and lows of West’s career, including her new image in the late-70s, where West has her biggest success duetting with Kenny Rogers (who plays himself in the movie). The movie also chronicles some of West’s personal problems, including her three marriages and her financial problems, culminating in her death in a car accident.

Lee later described this role as the role she was born to play, and cited the role as one of her favorites. Most of the outfits Lee wore in the movie were West’s original clothing, including six wigs, three kinds of artificial nails, and West’s infamous Spandex pants, a total of 56 costumes in all. In addition to Rogers, country singers Larry Gatlin and Loretta Lynn (close friends of West’s) portrayed themselves. West’s family, including her children (William, Shelly, Mo, Dale) helped with the making of the movie.

The role of Patsy Cline was to be played by Kate Jackson. When Jackson’s health problems necessitated she withdraw from the film just before shooting started in Nashville local stage actress Tere Myers who was appearing at the Ryman Auditorium in a production of Always…Patsy Cline was recruited to take over the role. (During her long association with Always…Patsy Cline, Myers has always played Cline’s friend Louise Seeger rather than the singer herself

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