We recently shared an old clip of Barbara Walters interviewing Dolly Partonpretty early on in her career. Barbara wasn’t all that nice when it came to some of her questions, and she basically told Dolly she looks like a joke. Of course, Dolly handled it with pure class.
I thought that was surely the last time Barb would have the nerve to come for Dolly like that, but unfortunately, I’m back with follow-up. Barbara interviewed Dolly again at her home outside of Nashville in 1982, five years after the original interview in 1977.
This particular year was a rough one for Dolly, as she had been ill and out of work for four months due to what she described as “lady problems,” along with some other stomach issues. This was the first interview she’d done since getting sick months prior.
In the years since she’d first sat down with Barbara, Dolly had stared in “The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas.” She said doing the movie took a toll on her, and she struggled with the decision to even do the film in the first place because she came from such a religious family. She noted she believes that emotional stress could’ve contributed to her sickness.
It starts off pretty light, with Dolly telling Barbara there were rumors she was actually out getting a breast reduction. She jokes that she’d spent years getting them that big, though she thought in some ways it might be a good idea:
“In all seriousness, it would probably take a load off my chest.”
But then, pretty quickly, it takes another turn along the lines of what we saw in the first interview. Barbara asks what Dolly’s definition of a star is and whether she viewed herself in that light, and Dolly responds:
“For me, the Dolly Parton star is accomplishing every possible thing that I can. I want to mean something. I don’t want to just be some joke.
I don’t want to be the all-American joke. You know, just with the boobs and the hair and the tight belts or the whatever. I want to be a meaningful, artistic person.”
It’s right here where we jump right back in to the same question Dolly responded to last time when Barb comes back with this:
“Okay. Yet you’ve got the, you said it, the boobs and the hair and the tight belt. Now can you give that up?”
And why Barbara feels the need to bring this up again is beyond me. But, Dolly points that out herself in a hilariously passive aggressive manner:
“Well, like I said to you, I think before, I want people to know there’s some brains beneath the wig and a heart beneath the boobs. I think people are beginning to see that.
I can get away with that now if I choose to change my look. I think I could get away with less. But I like more. Maybe I’ll go the other way.”
I think that’s the best response I’ve ever heard. She literally tells her she’s going to do the exact opposite purely because she knows it’s going to piss Barbara off even more and could not be nicer about it.
She then goes on to talk about where she got the idea for her perfectly iconic look (and I’m sure Barbara was not a fan of this part, either):
“My idea of beauty I saw in “True Confessions” magazines or something. Or the floozies in our town. What they call cheap trash in our town was the person I wanted to look like. Cuz I didn’t know exactly what they meant, but I liked that look.
I liked the hair and I liked the flair and I liked the clothes, and I thought wow, that’s about the sexiest thing. When I found out what the word meant, I thought well that’s what I’m gonna be. I’m gonna try to be sexy. So this all started from a very serious place.”
And that’s where she absolutely drops the hammer on Barb and I love everything about it. To be honest, I don’t even know if Barbara even realizes that’s what’s going on, but that’s what makes it even better.
It’s a true superpower as a southern girl to be able to nearly insult someone in a way that leaves them thinking it was a complement. It seems to me Dolly definitely follows a similar model here. Barbara is trying to lecture her about modesty for the second time and Dolly tells her how she’s always wanted to look like the town tramp. Dolly playing chess, Barb playing checkers.
Then, towards the end of the interview, Barbara asks her one last question:
“You, more than anyone I know practically, always had goals. You’re gonna do this in five years, you’re gonna do this in seven years, how do you think you’re gonna be remembered, let’s say, 100 years from now?”
If this response isn’t the most Dolly thing you’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is:
“Remembered? Well, probably what I’d like people to say about me 100 years from now is ‘Boy, she looks great for her age.’”
The girl has Barbara’s number. I don’t know why she keeps going back…
Watch the entire interview here if you need a good laugh today: