Betsy (Kinne) Smith '65 (right) with Stella Parton, Dolly Parton's sister, on the set of the made-for-TV movie "Coat of Many Colors." The two became friends during the filming of the movie based on the Parton family and their childhood.
By Beth Murphy
So what’s a Scecina graduate to do after retiring from her Catholic school job?
For Betsy (Kinne) Smith ’65, living in Atlanta’s suburbs allowed her to join show biz after she retired from her administrative position at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic High School in Fayetteville, Georgia.
“In Atlanta, the film industry gets a tax break, so all the big studios are moving here,” said Smith, who stars in her biggest role so far in a made-for-TV movie that aired on Dec 10, on NBC. The movie drew 15.9 million views and will be rebroadcast on Christmas night.
“Coat of Many Colors” features some big stars. The movie tells the story of Dolly Parton’s childhood of poverty and how she came to write her famous song “Coat of Many Colors.” Smith plays “church and town Gossip.” Yes, that’s exactly how she’s listed in the film’s credits.
Dolly Parton is executive producer of the TV movie, although Smith never saw her on the set. Smith did, however, get to know Dolly’s sister, Stella, who also plays a role in the film.
“I really liked her, and Stella is just as good a singer as Dolly is,” said Smith. “I sat next to her in the choir (in one of the church scenes) and I told her to sing really loud.”
The movie stars Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland as Dolly’s mother, Ricky Schroeder as Dolly’s father and Gerald McRaney as the preacher.
Filming “Coat of Many Colors” was one of her favorite movie experiences, said Smith, who just finished her 19th movie since retiring in May.
“I was sitting around doing nothing, and one of the alumni said, ‘Why don’t you be an extra in the movies,’ and I said, ‘Well, they don’t want any gray-haired ladies.’”
But she applied via email to four casting companies and soon was getting calls to appear in movies being shot in Atlanta. She says she gets most calls for period pieces set in the 1950s. She has had a 1950s-era dress made, which she wears in the Parton film, and wears a vintage hat courtesy of her hat collector friend.
Smith appears in a heartbreaking scene in “Coat of Many Colors” when she and others hatefully tell Parton’s father that the family has too many children. It was just a real hateful scene we had to do, I hated doing that. It’s a real sad scene,” said Smith.
Smith this week finished her 19th film, which based on James Patterson book. She also has filmed a movie starring Michael Keaton as McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. The movie is called “The Founder.”
Smith has lived in Atlanta since 1970 but often comes back home to Indiana. She attended the Scecina Class of 1965 reunion over the summer. “I love my class,” she said. “We had a really good time. They kicked us out (of the Scecina building) at 10 p.m. and so we went to the Irish Mutt until 1 a.m, when they started kicking us out of there!”
Watch a trailer for "Coat of Many Colors."