Dolly Parton has never been one to shy away from the spotlight; at 66, she’s built not just a career, but an empire complete with a theme park and museum all based on her larger-than-life persona.
In a new memoir released today–“Dream More”–the iconic country singer talks about growing up with next to nothing in a tiny cabin with her eleven brothers and sisters, as well as how she modeled herself after a woman in town who had a bad reputation.
“There was this woman, we won’t call her names, but she was beautiful,” she said in a recent interview. “I had never seen anybody, you know, with the yellow hair all piled up and the red lipstick and the rouge and the high heeled shoes, and I thought, ‘This is what I want to look like.'”
What everyone seems to want to know, however, is what’s going on in her love life. Because of her physical appearance, she’s often been linked to her film co-stars and music partners, often unfairly.
“I’ve been accused of being involved with every man I’m ever seen with or worked with,” she said. “Maybe I have, maybe I ain’t. I never tell if I have. But you know people are always saying that.”
There has also been gossip that her best friend since childhood, Judy Ogle, is actually her lover. Parton, who is a huge supporter of the LGBT community, says it’s just not true. She does acknowledge in the book that the general public just can’t grasp a friendship between two women being so strong and long-lasting, but insists that’s all it is, and although she likes to keep her personal life as private as possible, she’s been married to the same man–Carl Dean–for close to 50 years.
Parton says she has received death threats and has even been threatened by the KKK for her outspoken support of the gay community–her theme park, Dollywood, hosts an annual celebration she calls “Gay Day”–but she says that won’t stop her, and it certainly won’t stop her from doing what she wants to do with her own park.
I still get threats,” Parton said. “But like I said, I’m in business. I just don’t feel like I have to explain myself. I love everybody.”