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Flashback: Why Sissy Spacek Almost Snubbed ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’

A radio DJ is partially to thank for the actress accepting what turned out to be an Oscar-winning role

When Loretta Lynn was getting ready to turn her 1976 autobiography, Coal Miner’s Daughter, into a feature film, the Kentucky-born entertainer began telling anyone who would listen that young actress Sissy Spacek was her pick to play the title role in the film.

Spacek, whose scary-as-hell turn in the 1976 horror film, Carrie, earned her an Oscar nomination, was spotted by Lynn in a photograph — minus the pig’s blood — after which the outspoken singer told Tonight Show host Johnny Carson that Spacek would be playing her. The actress, however, wasn’t sold. On her way to tell Lynn she was taking another film role, Spacek suddenly heard “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on the car radio and needed no further convincing.

On March 4th, 1980, Coal Miner’s Daughter held its gala Nashville premiere at the Belle Meade Theatre. The film opened nationwide March 7th to widespread critical acclaim and earned $67 million at the box office, placing it among the Top 10 films of the year. In addition to Spacek’s Best Actress win, the film was nominated for six more Oscars.

The original Coal Miner’s Daughter soundtrack, which featured the singing talents of Spacek, Beverly D’Angelo (as Patsy Cline) and Levon Helm (as Lynn’s father, Ted Webb) was also a hit, selling in excess of 500,000 copies to earn a gold record. The film’s success also led to a revival in the popularity of Cline’s own music, with a huge increase in her album sales, and the 1985 release of the Cline biopic, Sweet Dreams, starring Jessica Lange.

Watch Spacek and Helm perform “Coal Miner’s Daughter” on an episode of the NBC variety show, The Midnight Special, above.

In This Article: Loretta Lynn

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