But 60+ years ago, she was an just an aspiring singer performing in a parking lot. And for the first time, we’re getting a glimpse of what that looked like.
Archivist Bradley Reeves appeared on WBIR in Knoxville to debut some newly-uncovered footage of a 14-year old Dolly Parton.
The incredible video, captured in 1961 by Haroldine Worthington and filmed on a silent 8-mm home movie camera, shows the future country music legend strumming a guitar in a gas station parking lot in Fountain City, Tennessee, at an event held by TV and radio personality (and former Knoxville mayor) Cas Walker.
Walker, whose Farm and Home Hour variety show ran on radio and television from 1928 to 1983, helped launch the career of the future megastar when she first performed on his show at the age of 10.
The footage is accompanied by a studio recording of Dolly singing “Making Believe,” a chart-topping hit for Kitty Wells in 1955 that would later go on to be recorded by other country music legends such as Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty, Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris and Merle Haggard.
Dolly’s version was included on Hits Made Famous by Country Queens, her 1963 compilation album with Faye Tucker.
It’s pretty amazing that this footage has survived all these years, but it’s even more amazing to be able to see a young Dolly Parton, three years before she moved to Nashville and six years before she landed a spot on Porter Wagoner’s television show, just playing country music in a gas station parking lot.
If those people only knew what a legend that little high school girl with the big hair and angelic voice would go on to become…
Dolly Parton Got Kicked Out Of A New York City Hotel
The country queen is never in short supply of great stories no matter what show she’s appearing on, and back in 2005, she was a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
And apparently, there’s even more to the story we’ve shared before when Dolly was mistaken for a prostitute in New York City and ended up having to pull a gun on some random creep. Not only did a man in the street think Dolly was a hooker, but apparently, the hotel she was staying at during that trip did too.
Back in the late 60’s or early 70’s, Dolly and her childhood best friend, Judy, decided they wanted to take a trip to the Big Apple. Dolly was first starting out in the music business, and coming from a remote part of the Great Smokey Mountains in east Tennessee, she had never been to a big city like that before.
So as soon as they got settled in their hotel room and freshened up from their travels, they decided to hit the town and explore New York:
“The first time I was ever here, I guess it was in the late 60’s, early 70’s, and I had just started making a name in country music.
So of course, all the country girls wanna go to the city, so my girlfriend Judy Ogle and I, we thought, well we’ll just go to New York. So we came up here, we didn’t have any money at that time, I was just beginning to make it.”
But when they got back, they were in for a really bad surprise…
“And so we checked in a hotel, and we’ve been friends since we were little, so we just got one room, and of course, I looked cheaper then than I even do now… and Judy didn’t look any better!
So we check into this hotel and they thought we were hookers.
And so we went out lookin’ around in the city and we come back to our room and they had our luggage out in the hall, and they had us locked out, ‘cuz they thought we were turning tricks up there. They threw us out! “
Some hotel in New York City seriously threw Dolly Parton out on the streets… it doesn’t even sound real. I guess maybe they weren’t used to all the big hair and overdone makeup of a backwoods southern girl or something, but how funny is it to hear her talk about the whole situation now?
At least the hotel let Dolly and Judy leave their luggage in the lobby while they figured out what they were gonna do next:
“And then we were waiting to get, we didn’t have reservations back home, so we had our stuff, we asked if we could please at least it in the lobby.”
I mean, I know she might’ve looked a little different than most people that live in New York City, but a prostitute? C’mon, y’all…
Dolly of course took the high road and didn’t mention the hotel she was talking about, but it’s a great story nonetheless and you can always count on her for a good laugh:
Dolly Parton Never Calls Her Husband Carl Dean By His Name
Dolly Parton never ceases to make me laugh.
She’s downright hilarious, and she always has a couple good one-liners up her sleeve for any interview she does.
I’m sure that’s part of what’s kept her marriage to her husband of over 55 years, Carl Dean, fresh and exciting. Though Carl chooses to intentionally stay out of the spotlight, Dolly often mentions him and what a solid marriage they’ve built over the years.
And she once toldLadies Home Journal that they don’t even call each other’s by their first names.
Apparently, Carl hates when Dolly calls him by his name, and prefers something a little more playful:
“It makes him fee-urious when I call him Carl. I always call him Daddy.”
I’m 99 percent sure that Dolly probably doesn’t call him that with the intent that most people use that word these days, but it’s pretty damn funny to think about her calling him “Daddy” all the time, even if they’re just at church or the grocery store.
I mean, I’ve heard plenty of people who have young kids call each other “mom” and “dad” as a term of endearment, but Carl and Dolly never had children of their own.
But in all honesty, Dolly’s not really all that delicate, so maybe she does mean it in a sexual way, who knows…. she has a pretty dirty sense of humor for being America’s resident southern belle.
But the thing is, Carl doesn’t ever call her Dolly, either:
“He calls me Mama or Little Kid or Angel Cakes. Sometimes he calls me Dotty to be silly: ‘Okay, Lil Dotty.’ Maybe once a year I call him Carl and it seems so cold that it really upsets him.
Then he gets back by calling me Dolly, which cuts me to the quick.”
Of course, if you’re married long enough, I assume you come up with quite a few funny nicknames for your partner, but hearing that Dolly only calls Carly “Daddy” is probably the greatest thing I’ve seen all day.
And in the spirit of their playful relationship, let’s not forget one of the most iconic internet videos of all time, when Dolly recreated her legendary Playboy magazine cover from 1978 and almost gave her husband a heart attack… she will forever be a national treasure: