Dolly Parton Almost Didn’t Do Her Iconic 1978 Playboy Cover: “I Didn’t Want To Be Naked… Unless Everybody Knew It Was A Joke”

Dolly Parton country music
Harry Langdon/Getty Images

What a shame that would’ve been…

In 1978, Dolly Parton posed for one of the most iconic Playboy covers of all time, though her interview with Lawrence Grobel is still one of the best she’s ever done, in my very humble opinion.

While it was very tastefully done and certainly one of the less-revealing cover shots in terms of how much skin she really showed, Dolly was hesitant grace the cover.

Of course, when Hugh Hefner started Playboy in 1958, the magazine quickly became a symbol of sexual freedom and expression that had never been promoted so openly (and commercially) in America before.

And it took a long time for all of that to become fully accepted, so when Dolly appeared on the cover in 1978, it makes sense as to why she was afraid it would upset country music fans, and especially some of those in her own family, since she came from a very religious family.

She says she was actually “afraid” at first (the first time I’ve ever heard Dolly Parton use that word):

“I was afraid at first, when we talked about it. I didn’t want to be naked or something on the front of a magazine unless everybody knew it was a joke.

I mean, I wouldn’t want to be naked even then. It might not offend me, but I was afraid maybe a lot of my country fans and some of the people who love me who are of a religious nature might not understand.”

Dolly explained that she was fearful of being put in a box after exposing herself for the magazine, but realized that flaunting the parts of her body that she was proud of was actually not a bad thing when done tastefully.

She also rightfully added:

“I mean, who else but Dolly Parton should be on the cover of PLAYBOY?”

Exactly… she gets it.

Clearly, it was a big success, and Dolly’s still known as one of the most beloved and wholesome stars of our time.

Ultimately, Dolly just hoped at the time that people would take it exactly the way it was meant, in terms of it being a cute, “off-the-wall” project that was done in good fun:

“People will make jokes and things, not because of my beauty but just because of that physical thing that’s built around my boobs. I didn’t know if I wanted to be put in a category of where I was flaunting something I had never flaunted before.

Then I thought, It isn’t something I should be ashamed of. PLAYBOY’s a real classy magazine. And I mean, who else but Dolly Parton should be on the cover of PLAYBOY? If you wanted an outrageous person to be an outrageous magazine cover, who else?

I just hope people will take it in the spirit in which I did it—you know, something cute and off-the-wall for me.”

Decades later, it’s as timeless and beautiful as any Playboy cover I’ve ever seen, and I think Dolly’s still proud of it, too… in fact, she recreated the iconic cover for her husband’s birthday a few years ago (which he loved, obviously).

Yes, the country queen has still got it, which is further evidenced by her incredible Dallas Cowboys cheerleader outfit she wore at the Thanksgiving halftime show this past year:

I’ll leave you with this…

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock