Dolly Parton
Country Weekly
August 29, 1995
Dolly's Turning 50 ...And Still Country's Most Gorgeous Whirlwind
By Robyn Flans


Like a fine wine, Dolly Parton gets better with age.  She'll turn 50 in January, but clearly, country's dynamo hasn't slowed down by even one platinum blond hair.

      This gorgeous whirlwind wears out — and looks better than — those half her age, putting in staggering hours to create her music and keep her business empire thriving.  Just look at what she's doing:

  • She releases her latest album, Something Special, this week.  The album includes her first batch of new songs in almost three years and new versions of her all-time favorites, including a duet of "I Will Always Love You" with Vince Gill.
  • She's expanding her successful Dollywood theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for the second time in two years.  She's spending $8 million on the new Dollywood Boulevard attraction, which will open next April to salute movie star glamour.
  • Her pen didn't stop writing after last year's best-selling autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business.  A sequel will tell "the whole truth and nothing but the truth."
  • She's working on a second children's book.  Her first, Coat Of Many Colors, illustrated the story behind one of Dolly's most popular songs.
  • She's opening more Dixie Stampede dining and entertainment arenas — the third recently premiered this summer in Branson, Mo.  The Dixie Stampedes offer their patrons a meal and an equestrian show.  She's working on taking the concept nationwide.
  • She's already hard at work on a new TV show, after the one previously planned, Heavens To Betsy, fell through.
  • She's capitalizing on her voluptuous-yet-fit physique by coming out with new lines of products — food favorites and a line of lingerie.

      Where does she get the energy for all this?
      "I think most of it comes from being excited about what I do," Dolly told COUNTRY WEEKLY.  "I love what I do and I think energy creates energy.  I think the key is to do something you love.  I think you just get naturally energized by that.

      I think I've always had a lot of energy.  I'm almost hyper to some degree.  Of course, it's always good to eat good, sleep good and exercise if you can, but I have to admit I'm not all that good on any of that.  I eat most of the wrong things and I eat them too often, but I try to eat small meals and snack through the day to keep my energy up.  And I think I sleep enough for my personality," said the always-upbeat singer.
      She even works when most of us are asleep:  Dolly's most productive hours, she said, are from 3 a.m. and 7 a.m.
      The latest example of that energy is Something Special.
      "The reason I called the album Something Special was I had written a lot of new songs that I felt were very personal and emotional, and I felt they were special," Dolly said.  "When you write songs, it's so much like parents having kids.  You think they're all special.  Another reason I though it was special was because I chose to do three of my all-time favorite songs that I have written through the years.  I included 'Jolene,' which has always been a personal favorite of mine.  It was out 22 years ago and I felt it was time to redo it because a lot of people hadn't heard it, although I was kind of famous for it.

      "One of the things that made this album really special is I did 'I Will Always Love You' as a duet for the first time with none other than Vince Gill.  I recorded it twice myself and it was the first time the same song has been number one by the same artist.  The first time was in the early '70s when I left Porter Wagoner's show, which is basically why I wrote it.  I wrote it for Porter as a goodbye song.  Then I recorded it again on The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas movie.
      "Of course, Whitney Houston had the worldwide major hit with it.  She made us a few bucks on that so I could buy some cheap wigs and jewelry," Dolly said with her girlish giggle.  "Now it makes a perfect duet, two people parting ways and wishing each other well.  He did such a beautiful job and I was so honored that he even wanted to sing it," Dolly said.
      "I also included 'The Seeker.'  I wrote it at a time when I was going through a lot of personal things and reaching out to God.  It's a nice message for today."
      She built another favorite, "Coat of Many Colors," into her children's book.  "People love the song because it talks about principals, values and family values.  They came to me about putting that out and it was actually one of the biggest-selling children's books of last year.  I've always loved to do children's things.  I actually have real children's stories and songs that I have written.  Children relate to me a lot because of my name, my little voice and my over-exaggerated look, like a Mother Goose character, and I hope one day I will be able to do videos, books and children's specials."

      After her first autobiography spent four months on best-seller lists, you can count on seeing another.  "I called it My Life and Other Unfinished Business, so I can write another one that tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God."
      The sequel could certainly include a chapter on her thriving businesses, such as Dixie Stampede.  Others will follow:  Look soon for Dixie Fixins — a line of foods — and lingerie called Dailies and Nighties.
      Success on television has eluded her, but she's working in it.  Heavens To Betsy, a television series that would have starred Dolly, fell through this summer.  "I'm still hoping to have a hit show one of these days," she insisted.  "We're trying to get something that's uplifting, fun and exciting.  I think I'm going to enjoy doing television once I ever get the right thing."
      And then there's Dollywood, which she opened in 1986.  "I have to say I'm as proud of Dollywood as anything I've ever done in my entire life.  It's a wonderful place to go and a wonderful legacy to leave behind for my family.  I'm also proud of the Dollywood Foundation, which provides education and medical needs for a lot of the kids in the area.  It makes me feel good to take something back home and be part of something that my family can be proud of."
      She plans to keep building that legacy well beyond her 50th birthday.  "I don't ever want to retire," she said adamantly.  "I was off from work several years ago with some health problems and I realized during that time that there's no way I would ever retire, because I love what I do.  I'm sure there will be times I'll relax a little more, but this is my job, this is my joy and I'm relaxed when I can pretty much do what I want to.  I figure we'll be dead for a long time, so I'm going to try to live for as long as I can.  That's my motto."