Dolly Parton On Unwanted Attention From Men Throughout Her Career: “Either I Was Fool Enough Not To Recognize It, Or I Was Smart Enough Not To Play Along With It”

Dolly Parton country music
Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Dolly Parton doesn’t take anybody’s shit, and I love her for it.

In an interview with Bobbie Wygant in 1980 in promotion of her film 9 to 5 that was released that year, Bobbie didn’t hold back when it came to some of the questions she asked Dolly.

In the movie, Dolly plays a secretary named Doralee Rhodes, and her boss is telling everyone she’s sleeping with him when she’s not, which causes many girls in the office to shun her.

And because of Dolly’s obvious good looks, which she’s been open about admitting she modeled after the town tramp from her hometown in the mountains of east Tennessee, Bobbie asked her if she’s ever experienced anything negative because of how she looks in real life.

Actually, here’s the direct quote from Bobbie, which is honestly a sort of offensive way to ask something in my opinion, but this was over 40 years ago, so I’ll give her that:

“Have you in your life ever experienced anything because of being blonde, and sexy and bosomy and all, where people did look upon you with that image?”

Kind of implying a whole lot there, Bobbie, but of course, Dolly had a great answer, and I think it’s really interesting to get her take on how she handled what is likely hundreds, if not thousands, of men flirting with her throughout her career:

“Well, either I was fool enough not to recognize it if they did, or I was smart enough not to play along with it.

Or I didn’t get myself in those spots. Like I said, I’ve been a very lucky person in the fact that I have my music, I didn’t have to stay in certain situations.”

Of course, we all know that she’s no dumb blonde, and was always more than aware when someone was coming on too strong or making a move on her that she didn’t necessarily want.

Being that she’s absolutely hilarious and has such a natural quick-wit, she was usually able to diffuse the situation with a little humor:

“Of course, there are people that flirt with you, people that come onto you. Now it’s up to you a lot, how you deal with it.

And I was always lucky that I had a big mouth and an outgoing personality, I could turn it into a joke if it got to be too uncomfortable.

Or I could just get out and do something else if I didn’t like the way things were feeling.”

She added that she thinks a lot of the time, certain men just had a really crude and rude way of trying to give her a compliment and let her know they thought she was pretty:

“But a lot of times I think people have, not all the time, but sometimes, and with my particular situation, a lot of men have a crude way of trying to pay you a compliment.

I mean, they’re used to dealing with women that way ‘cuz they don’t know any different. Some men, I mean ‘cuz there are some wonderful men and that’s usually the ones I always took up with.

But the ones that really come on too strong, I would just always make it into a joke and just pass it off.”

She added that, a lot of the times, she probably got herself in trouble flirting or being a little too friendly, and that she should take half the blame for it:

“But I know there are some people not lucky enough to get out of a situation that easy, and there’s a lot of people that have had a lot harder time than I have.

But I’ve usually asked for the spots I’ve gotten myself on, so I have to take, you know, half the blame.”

Dolly has been married to her husband Carl Dean for 56 years now, but he intentionally stays completely out of the spotlight and always has.

That’s led to tons of rumors about the monogamy (or lack thereof) when it comes to their relationship, and Dolly has always played it pretty coy when it comes to admitting if she’s ever cheated on him or vice versa.

She is pretty open about the fact that she’s a big flirt, though, and has clearly always been absolutely gorgeous and super outgoing, which could be where a lot of the rumors stem from.

We’ll probably never really know the full truth about that (not that it’s anyone else’s business), but I’ve always appreciated Dolly’s ability to balance her beauty and brains and use it all to her advantage.

Hey, you don’t get to be the Queen of Country without that certain gene se qua that even Johnny Cash said made an artist truly special and unique.

And honestly, I can’t say I necessarily blame a lot the guys for shooting their shot with Dolly… she’s a gem and probably the only universally beloved figure left on this planet.

You can check out more of that interview here, it’s well worth a watch if appreciate all the wisdom Mrs. Dolly always has to share with the world as much as I do:

“9 to 5”

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock