Dolly Parton: “I never really had the desire to have children”


Dolly Parton, 65, has a new interview in The Mail to promote her latest album – her 41st! I love Dolly. Dolly is the exception to every rule. Dolly is grace and genius and hilarity, all with an enormous rack. I love her. Do not speak ill of Dolly. Do you know that the Dolly empire, including her song catalog and Dollywood, is worth nearly $1 billion? Did you know that people in the music industry refer to her as The Iron Butterfly? Did you know that she’s awesome? The full Mail piece is here, and here are some highlights:

On her “cheap and gaudy” look: “A lot of people have said I’d have probably done better in my career if I hadn’t looked so cheap and gaudy. But I dress to be comfortable for me, and you shouldn’t be blamed because you want to look pretty. My husband likes me to look this way, and he’s the one I want to please.”

On her 45-year marriage to Carl Dean, and the rumors that she’s had affairs with “everyone from Sylvester Stallone and Burt Reynolds to Judy Ogle, her assistant and best friend”: Dolly cannily likes to keep the speculation going. “I love to flirt, and I’ve never met a man I didn’t like. Men are my weakness. Short, fat, bald or skinny – I’ve had crushes on some very unusual men but Carl knows I’ll always come home and I’m not having sex with these people – I’m just flirtin’ and having fun. But that’s healthy. If I’m away I’ll say to my husband, ‘You don’t mind if I fantasize about Keith Urban [Nicole Kidman’s husband] tonight, do you?’, and he doesn’t. He says he’d think less of any man who didn’t fall in love with me. But he really respects what I do and would hate to stand in the way of that. He always makes me feel pretty, even when I’m not. He’ll say, ‘I like it when you wear your hair up high‘, and he even has clothes of mine in his closet that he’ll bring out once in a while and say, ‘See if you can still get into this.’ I love dressing up for him. I think Carl will always see me the way he did when we first met, just as I do him. We’ll never be old to each other.”

More on Carl Dean: There is little photographic evidence of Mr Dean, who used to run an asphalt-laying company, leading to speculation that, like the Yeti, he may not even exist. “Oh, he exists,” laughs Dolly, “it’s just he doesn’t really like to be with anybody but me. He loves staying home and working on the farm.” With Dolly often on tour, is it a case of absence making the heart grow fonder? ‘I think so,’ she nods, ‘we’re never stuck in each other’s face. And any time we start getting a little testy with one another, I’ll say, “Don’t you need to go to the barn for a while?” – we know how to get out of each other’s way without being offensive to one another.’

Dolly gets the last laugh: ‘Some people didn’t think I was a class act because of my looks,’ she says. ‘But it didn’t take them long to find out they were wrong.’ She’s an astute businesswoman too, having founded her own theme park, Dollywood, a radio station, restaurants, and record and TV companies. She even has her own literacy programme, which distributes 2.5 million free books to children every year.

On being child-free: Dolly and her husband have never had children of their own, although she says, ‘I think I became more productive through not having children. I never really had the desire to have them. My husband didn’t want them either, so it worked out well.’ She had a partial hysterectomy in 1984, which led to weight gain and depression. ‘I’ve never been pregnant, so I just feel God didn’t mean for me to have kids, so that everybody else’s children could be mine,’ she adds. ‘But if I had had them, I think I’d have been a devoted mother. My songs are like my children – I expect them to support me when I’m old!’

The early days in male-dominated Nashville: ‘I grew up around lots of men – my father, my brothers, my uncles – so I wasn’t intimidated by them,’ says Dolly, ‘and feeling pretty and sexy actually empowered me. I got jumped on on occasion, but I always knew how to diffuse a situation without injuring their pride. I never slept with anybody to get ahead in my career. It didn’t take long for them to realize I wasn’t there to sell my body, but because my work was worthy. I’d say, “I have a gift and think I can make us both a lot of money – are you interested?”, and they usually were.’

On her high heels: Her ultra-femininity is incredibly appealing and one can’t help picturing her in her gym, working out in high heels. ‘I’m not that bad,’ she laughs. ‘I have tennis shoes with little rhinestones that I slip on if I exercise. But I always wear heels, even around the house. I’m such a short little thing, I can’t reach my kitchen cabinets.’

[From The Mail]

Another one-liner from Dolly – when asked how long it takes to do her hair, she says, “How do I know? I’m never there!” Oh, and she refers to her boobs as “showdogs” which is awesome. I need to start calling my boobs “showdogs”.

As far as the “rumors” that Dolly has nailed various celebrity men…? I don’t know. Burt Reynolds bedded lots of high-profile women back in the day, but I don’t know if Dolly would have been one of them. And Stallone? Puh-lease. I really hope she didn’t go near him. Not that I would begrudge her an affair – I wouldn’t. I just hope that if she did fool around with someone, it was someone really hot. Like, Robert Redford or something.



Photos courtesy of WENN.

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59 Responses to “Dolly Parton: “I never really had the desire to have children””

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  1. brin says:

    I love Dolly, too! She’s awesome…love her humor, love her songs. She’s an amazing talented woman, y’all!

  2. skilo says:

    I’ve always loved Dolly. I still think 9to5 is a hilarious movie. She seems like she’d be really fun to hang out with.

  3. Kasey says:

    I guess Jennifer Garner will be having a little chat with her. I didn’t mention this on the Garner thread (probably b/c I like her and was annoyed) but I think Dolly touched on something Garner may be aware of but didn’t convey properly. I think every woman has a desire to produce or birth. However, I don’t agree that the production or birth is children.

    For me personally, yeah at this stage I’d like kids, but like Dolly pointed out I find my ‘productivity’ elsewhere. I’m a teacher and throw myself into my job. I like to serve/help so I often volunteer my time to help others. I’m not so confident (at 30 going on 31) that marriage and family is still going to happen. I am confident however, that i’m going to make the most of my time on this earth to be “fruitful” in ways that matter to me. I think just about every woman has that same desire to produce or birth something of significance. Perhaps this general desire is what Garner has a vague understanding of but it’s limited to her experience.

  4. Eve says:

    I love her ability to laugh at herself. Like when she was a guest on The Simpsons and there’s a scene where she uses her makeup remover to blast the prison cell’s lock.

  5. tiki says:

    i live in tn. my husband and i buy season passes to dollywood for everyone in our family. the place is wonderful and NOTHING beats dollywood at christmas time. it’s as over the top as dolly herself. she is a state treasure.

  6. Addie says:

    I always love hearing about OLDER succesful, happy and fulfilled women who have never had children or ever desired to.

    It is encouraging for a 25 year old woman like myself who feels EXACTLY that way.
    Women like that are not easy to come by.

    @Kasey very well put.Cannot agree more.

  7. gee says:

    It’s so true, it’s nice to know some women are totally happy without children. I don’t know if I’ll have them or not, but I love to hear that I can have a fufilling life without kids.

  8. lucy2 says:

    She does seem pretty awesome, and someone who knows exactly what she wants.

  9. SolitaryAngel says:

    @ kasey: Ditto the sentiment; you said it perfectly. With a wonderful attitude like yours, I know you’ll have your family dreams come true!

  10. Susan O. says:

    I wonder what percentage of women feel this way but go ahead with baby making anyway. Nothing but admiration for Dolly

  11. Pyewacket says:

    Such a decent woman who is true to herself and happy with her fan base.

    I have total respect for her and her longevity in a very fickle business.

  12. whatabitch says:

    I love Dolly, this interview is sweet, but what’s going on with her face lately, has she started seeing the same plastic surgeon as Jocelyn Wildenstein?

  13. Buffy Wilson says:

    One of the world’s greatest broads. I love love love Dolly.

  14. the original bellaluna says:

    My aunt slept with Burt Reynolds when I was a child. She said he wasn’t that great.

    You know, I could hear Dolly’s answers in her voice (with her twang) in my head when I read this?

    Love her. Glad she knew she didn’t want kids and didn’t have them. To each their own!

    Kasey – WORD!

  15. mel says:

    I love her. She is a national treasure.

  16. Isa says:

    She’s awesome. And funny! Love the quip about her hair.
    And her body is rocking. Except for the overly large boobs which aren’t for me.

  17. Ell says:

    Dolly has been a staple throughout my life, she was my first country album in the early 80’s.

    Dolly and her music has had the uncanny ability to stay relevant throughout the years, not an easy thing to do. I’m just getting in to her latest single ‘Together you and I’, it sounded too mainstream pop at first, not country enough, but it’s growing on me.

  18. Jess says:

    Dolly is the greatest!

  19. Liz says:

    can’t dislike her

  20. trolleydolly says:

    Wonderful woman. I adore her song “coming down” – the lonliness of pointless casual sex (although that’s my interpretation)

    Why are some people so fascinated about women who chose to be be childfree? I don’t recall any interview with George Clooney harping on about the fact he isn’t a Father.

  21. Original Tiffany says:

    I absolutely love Dolly. She is so damn smart as well! She Never gave away her publishing rights, even turning down Elvis because he would only do one of her songs if he got the pub. rights for it. So, she even made all the cash for “I will always love you” when Whitney did it.
    Dolly is my mom’s hero. I love her fake hair, her sparkles, and her showdogs!

  22. Whatamess! says:

    i fully intended to come on here to diss her..but after reading the entire article..i couldn’t..*hangs head*

  23. Jayna says:

    I adore her but I think she and her husband had sort of an open marriage which she has alluded to before. It seems like she backtracked from that in the interview.

  24. Nymeria says:

    Dolly is cool. I usually have something snarky to say about every celebrity on this site, but I just can’t say anything mean about Dolly. (Nothing mean-worthy has come to light yet, anyway. 😉 ) She came from dirt-poor beginnings, she is truly talented, and she is hilarious – so self-deprecating and matter-of-fact! I also love how over-the-top she is, boobs & all. I’ll have to visit Dollywood sometime.

  25. Blue says:

    Dolly is awesome. I’m not a country type of person but I would love to meet her. She’s just so honest.

  26. original kate says:

    love dolly. lovely woman, talented, smart, funny and i like her take on fame and being childfree. i’m waiting for some stay-at-home mommy to say that poor dolly’s life really hasn’t meant anything, she doesn’t know what love is and she’s selfish because she didn’t reproduce.

  27. Mitch Buchanan Rocks says:

    Interesting post Original Tiffany – and Jennifer Aniston, take note, it is OK to say that you don’t want children.

  28. jc126 says:

    She’s so funny. Love her.

  29. bluhare says:

    “Jolene” is one of the five best country songs EVER.

    Porter Waggoner who? (That’s for the other old bitches here.)

  30. Call Me Al says:

    Thanks for posting on Dolly! She’s an interesting character and a talented woman.

  31. Stubbylove says:

    MAD love for Dolly – always have – she’s an absolute legend. Take that Jennifer Gardner!

  32. ladybert62 says:

    Any one who can stay married to the same person (and both are still happily married to each other) for 45 years deserves and will get my respect.

    Way to go Dolly – keep it up – you look great!

  33. BeckyR says:

    Dolly is a classic and always will be.

  34. Emily Lethlean says:

    I’m with you Dolly! Never felt the need to reproduce and proud to be a DINK – double income no kids. I love what she said about her art form being just as fulfilling for her as offspring – maybe more! Us child-free women need to stand together because the world does judge us Just make sure if you marry, he doesn’t want kids either like Dolly did.

  35. Catherine says:

    JLo should take note on how to keep a marriage together.

  36. islandwalker says:

    Have always loved her. She’s smart, talented and makes no apologies for who she is.

    I’m 55. I never had the desire to have kids. I have a very full, wonderful life with the usual ups and downs. I still have friends who “feel sorry for me, that I never got to experience the true joys of being a woman” because I didn’t birth children. Please, safe your sympathies for those who truly desire motherhood but have infertility issues. I have no regrets on that front. Your value as a human being comes from how you treat people.

  37. Sucker for the Corps says:

    Motherhood isnt for everyone and thats completely ok. A friend of mine adores my daughter but has no desire to have one of her own. I want about 70 but my husband and I have agreed to 3. I would rather see her have a fulfilling, child free life than a life with kids and she feels trapped.

  38. Jaana says:

    I have no desire for kids right now, i dont see myself with children in the future but if I say that out loud people look at me funny.

  39. Sillyone says:

    Love her.

  40. BB says:

    I met Dolly once when I was about 13….she was as sweet as you’d think she would be! She hugged me and my sister as if she’d known us forever. Big hug…my head right in her big old boobies!

    Met Stallone at that same time (they were filming Rhinestone) and he was a totaly jerk….treated us like we were dirt.

    But not Dolly….she’s awesome!!!

  41. Amanda G says:

    It’s sad that women like Dolly and Oprah have to answer this question for the rest of their lives. Why didn’t you have children? You have to regret that, right? Ugh. LOL I have no desire to have children and I know plenty of happily married couples that never wanted them either. And someone else brought up a good point… I wonder how many other women feel this way, but have children anyway.

  42. Blue says:

    I have a child (she’s going to be an only), but i hate when people try to make child-less people feel bad about not having kids. Being a parent isn’t for everyone. Some people who are parents have no business caring for a goldfish much less a human being. I don’t think women should have to justify not wanting to have kids. It’s their uterus and they can choose whether or not they want it occupied.

  43. MoMo says:

    @Kasey- Well put.

  44. Hautie says:

    I bet Dolly has dozen’s of niece’s and nephews. So she has always had oodles of children around her immediate family.

    So I bet she didn’t feel the need to pop out one.

    I know I am not having any. 🙂

    And anytime one of my wise-ass friends want to bring it up. I always make a point to ask about their heathen children, who can’t stay out of trouble. haha!

    The best thing ever… is when one of my childhood friends, became a grandmother. At 40.

    She like to have crapped her pants.

    And I call her “Granny” every opportunity I have… 🙂

  45. Trillion says:

    When she performed here in San Francisco (at Golden Gate Park. The trees were full of people trying to get a glimpse of the Great Dolly) she sang “Jolene” and changed the words to “Drag Queen”. Love. Her.

  46. Larissa says:

    I totally support women who dont feel the need to have children, so I can still have another one and do not blame myself for over populating the world!

  47. LeeLoo says:

    She’s a refreshing breath of air and proves Jennifer Garner wrong!
    I’ve always admired Dolly. I know she helped raise her younger siblings and is extremely loyal to her family.
    And according to a cousin of mine, Carl is real. He actually met Carl when he was helping with a road construction project in TN. Apparently Carl rarely says a word to ANYONE.

  48. Becca says:

    I commend Dolly for doing what’s right for her. Not every woman needs to have kids to feel whole or feel productive. Skills, talents, & passions benefit the world just as much, if not more so.

  49. Brenda says:

    Love love love Dolly!!She is so awesome!! Love the fact that she has no children and yet she feels like she has led and is leading a full and productive life. I’ve known since I was 18 that I didn’t want kids.I love them but I just don’t want them. But when I got married 3 yrs. ago I felt a lot of pressure from my inlaws to get pregnant immediatly. I refuse to have someone make such an important decision for me.

  50. AM says:

    Dolly is a very talented and generous woman. I’ve always admire women who choose not to have kids as opposed to those who never really wanted kids but go ahead and have them anyway. You can be happy without kids. Not every woman feels it’s their need to reproduce!

  51. Callumna says:

    One of the most beautiful voices in the world.

    She sings “Little Sparrow” acapella in concert. See that on Youtube anytime you need a great moment.

    I like that she actually is gifted with talent, songwriting and beauty unlike, sorry y’all, any of today’s Britneys.

    Wonderful she kept her talent unlike all the drug addicts who just throw it away and sell that as “artistic.”

  52. MikesCandy says:

    Love. Her. Her self-deprecating humor, her lyricism, her business acumen; she should really be a role model for many women and it’s sad that she’s undervalued by most.

  53. Chris says:

    Having children was the best thing that ever happened to me. Just sayin.

  54. Pensol says:

    No one who doesn’t absolutely want kids should feel pressured to have them. It’s a difficult enough job when you do!

  55. palermo says:

    She needs to lay off the plastic surgery, she looks like the Joker now

  56. Shoe_Lover says:

    I love Dolly

  57. kg says:

    I love Dolly! The town she grew up in wouldn’t be what it is today without her. She was smart to create jobs for her family instead of just giving them handouts. I really admire her.

  58. Isabel says:

    I love her lots and lots. Her voice always feels like home to me.

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