Entries in Dolly Parton (4)


Dolly Parton on Gay Rumors, Losing a Drag Queen Look-Alike Contest and New Memoir

Jim Spellman/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Country music titan Dolly Parton is anything but shy. In an exclusive interview with Nightline, Parton dished about her love life (including those rumors that she is secretly gay), losing a drag queen lookalike contest and building a multimillion-dollar entertainment empire.

In her long reign as a country music legend, Parton, now 66, has done it all. In her new motivational memoir, Dream More, which will be released on Nov. 27, Parton talks about growing up dirt poor in Sevierville, Tenn., in a cabin with 11 siblings. She said she modeled her signature big, blonde hair and red-lipped, voluptuous Dolly look after the town tramp.

"There was this woman, we won't call her names, but she was beautiful," she said. "I had never seen anybody, you know, with the yellow hair all piled up and the red lipstick and the rouge and the high-heeled shoes, and I thought, 'This is what I want to look like.'"

Parton is refreshingly honest about things most entertainers guard ferociously, including rumors about her love life.

"I've...been accused of being involved with every man I'm ever seen with or worked with," she said. "Maybe I have, maybe I ain't. I never tell if I have. But you know people always saying that."

Parton has also been accused of being secretly gay and romantically involved with one of her oldest childhood friends, Judy Ogle. She denied the rumors and said she even bonded with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey over the false tabloid claims. Parton has been married to her husband, Carl Dean, for 46 years.

"Like Gayle [King], her friend, Judy, my friend, they just think that you just can't be that close to somebody," Parton said. "Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade....We still just have a great friendship and relationship and I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we're not romantically involved."

As a campy, vampy icon, Parton said she once entered a drag queen look-alike contest -- and lost. The other contestants didn't know they were going up against the real Dolly.

"They had a bunch of Chers and Dollys that year, so I just over-exaggerated -- made my beauty mark bigger, the eyes bigger, the hair bigger, everything," she said, laughing. "All these beautiful drag queens had worked for weeks and months getting their clothes. So I just got in the line and I just walked across, and they just thought I was some little short gay guy...but I got the least applause."

Parton is a proud supporter of LGBT rights and even hosts "Gay Day" at her theme park, Dollywood, in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Parton said the event caught the attention of the Ku Klux Klan.

"When it first started there were people giving us threats, I still get threats," Parton said. "But like I said, I'm in business. I just don't feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody."

Parton is also not shy about her numerous plastic surgery procedures, and said aging with her breast implants has been just fine.

"I haven't had to have that done in years, and my girls are going pretty good," she said.

Behind that va-va-voom body is a shrewd businesswoman. She starred in several iconic movies such as 9 to 5 and Steel Magnolias. She has sold 100 million records and had numerous number-one singles. Her 1974 chart-topping hit, "I Will Always Love You," was later immortalized by Whitney Houston in the 1992 blockbuster film The Bodyguard.

"When they played it at her funeral and they lifted her coffin up, man, it was like somebody stabbed me in the heart with a knife," Parton said. "It just overwhelmed me."

Her songs are her legacy, but so too is the Imagination Library, Parton's literary program dedicated to her father who couldn't read or write.

"We've given out 40 million books since we've started, which is a lot of books for a lot of kids," she said.

Parton may help a lot of kids, but she and Dean never had children of their own.

"I often wonder, because he's tall and he's dark and I'm little and blonde and I just always wondered what our kids would have looked like had we had them," she said.

Parton said she doesn't have any regrets about not having children.

"God didn't let me have kids so everybody's kids could be mine," she said. "I can keep my nieces and nephews and then when I'm sick of them, I can say, 'Hey, come get these kids, they're driving me crazy.' I'm a Great Aunt Granny, is what they call me."

And Parton has no plans to slow down any time soon.

"I will never retire unless I have to," she said, laughing. "As long as I'm able to get up in the morning, get that makeup on and my high heels on, and even if I can't wear high heels, I'm going to do like Mae West, I'm going to sit in a wheelchair with my high heels on."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Custody at Risk After "Toddlers & Tiaras" Star Wears Controversial Outfit

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The woman who dressed her young daughter as Dolly Parton -- complete with a padded bra and sculpting underwear -- for a child beauty pageant that aired on TLC's Toddlers & Tiaras could lose custody of the girl after her estranged husband claimed she sexually exploited their daughter by allowing her to dress so provocatively.

Little Maddy Verst's appearance in the costume on an episode of the controversial TLC program sparked a firestorm of criticism against her mother, Lindsay. Her father, Bill Verst, has asked a Kentucky court to grant him sole custody of his daughter, who is now 6.

During a court proceeding Saturday, a judge threw reporters out of the courtroom, closed the hearing and placed a gag order on mother Lindsay Jackson. The judge also imposed a ban on any pageant activity for Maddy or her mother for the duration of the trial.

A court-appointed psychologist has sided with Maddy's father, condemning the Parton costume and recommending that a judge make Verst the girl's sole custodial parent.

Jackson said the costume was never meant to be sexual and that she shouldn't be at risk of losing her daughter.

Jackson dressed her daughter herself in the Dolly Parton costume, telling the TLC show's cameras, "When she wears the fake boobs and the fake butt, it's just like an added extra bonus and it's really funny when she comes out on stage and everybody thinks it's hysterical."

Not everybody thought it was hysterical, however. Some online commenters were quick to express their disgust for the costume and for the perceived sexualization of little girls on the show.

It's not the first time a pageant mother has come under fire on the show.

Wendy Dickey was condemned for dressing her 3-year-old daughter, Paisley, in a racy costume that mimicked the outfit worn by Julia Roberts' prostitute character from the movie Pretty Woman.

The costume consisted of a fitted, skin-baring white blouse, tight blue mini-skirt and thigh-high, shiny black boots. Paisley wore it all -- complete with a blond wig, which Roberts' prostitute character also wore -- and critics and children's advocates erupted in outrage.

The court proceedings in Maddy's custody case resume Aug. 31.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Dolly Parton ‘Shattered’ When Whitney Houston Funeral Included "I Will Always Love You"

Jim Spellman/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Country music legend Dolly Parton said she was “shattered” when she heard Whitney Houston's version of her song, “I Will Always Love You,” played at her funeral, but felt the song has “connected” them.

“[It] just shattered me to hear that song played under those conditions,” Parton in an interview Monday with Nightline. “I thought my heart was gonna stop. It just pierced me like a knife. It’s just -- I can’t explain that feeling, to think that that was so final for her, and that that was my words and my feeling -- I would forever be so connected to her.”

“I Will Always Love You,” which Parton originally wrote in 1972, has long been a chart-topping hit.

It became a No. 1 hit on the country music charts after its release in 1974.  Decades later, actor Kevin Costner brought it to composer David Foster, who rearranged the song as a pop music ballad for Houston, who recorded it for the 1992 film The Bodyguard. The film was a blockbuster, and the song enjoyed 14 weeks at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100. It became the anthem of Houston’s career.

Parton said she didn’t know how Foster had rearranged her song until she heard it on the radio months later while driving in her car.

“All of a sudden I hear this -- this a capella sound, I just hear this, ‘If I should stay,’ and it didn’t register, and I thought, ‘What is that?’” Parton said. “And just still just kind of -- ‘That’s my song,’ but it still didn’t register it was Whitney, because it was just this solo voice, and then all of a sudden it went into the ‘I will always love you,’ and I thought I was gonna wreck. It just overwhelmed me.”

The day after Houston’s death on Feb. 11, “I Will Always Love You” was No. 1 on Billboard’s music charts and was the No. 1 downloaded song on Apple’s iTunes.  Houston’s 2000 album, Whitney: The Greatest Hits, which includes the song, became the leading album, knocking Adele’s Grammy-winning 21 from the top slot.

Singer Jennifer Hudson’s stirring tribute performance at the 2012 Grammys and the TV show Glee’s rendition of “I Will Always Love You” also helped the song make a resurgence.

That has reportedly meant big bucks for Parton, who still owns writer and publisher rates from sales of the song. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Parton has pocketed $70,000 from sales of the “I Will Always Love You” single alone.

“I really owe a great debt to Kevin Costner and to Whitney Houston and to David Foster,” Parton said. “I really feel like that song belongs to all of us…I thought God was looking out for me, that it was meant to be, because how lucky was I that that got to be such a huge song. ”

Parton told Nightline she wrote the song in 1972 for her late duet and business partner Porter Wagoner while they were arguing about her leaving his syndicated television show to pursue a solo career.

At the time, Parton was already a successful country music star, with a couple of number-one songs. She later re-recorded “I Will Always Love You” for the 1982 film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, with Burt Reynolds.

“When Whitney did ‘I Will Always Love You,’ I mean look what a grand song she made out of that simple, heartfelt, you know, song … it was just amazing,” Parton said. ”Whitney is the one who took it worldwide and really made it a household word -- or song, I should say -- so I’ll always be thankful to her for that.”

Parton’s latest project is An Evening With … Dolly Live, a two-disc DVD and CD set, now available at Cracker Barrel Old Country stores.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Ramones to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Grammys

Photo Courtesy - Rhino/Wea(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) -- The Ramones are getting some respect from the folks who hand out the Grammys.  The band will be among other recipients, including Dolly Parton and Julie Andrews, honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award during Grammy week.

The award will be given during a special, invitation-only ceremony on Saturday, Feb. 12.  A formal acknowledgment of the award will be announced during the actual Grammy award ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 13 which will air on CBS at 8 p.m. ET. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio