Dolly Parton Opened Up About Why She Wears A Wig – And Gave A Rare Glimpse Of Her Real Hair

That southern drawl, an ability to poke fun at herself, her brilliantly named Dollywood theme park. Legendary country singer-songwriter Dolly Parton is renowned for many things. And her larger than life blonde wig has always been near the top of the list too. But have you ever wondered what she looks like underneath all those artificial locks? Well, in 2020 the multiple Grammy winner revealed all.

Of course, Parton’s unashamedly OTT sense of style extends beyond her many wigs and hairpieces. The star is also famous for wearing an array of sparkling outfits, most of which show off her equally famous ample bosom. So how exactly did the Nashville legend develop such an attention-grabbing look?

Well, it turns out that Parton owes her entire image to an unlikely source. Yes, in a 2016 chat on Jimmy Fallon’s late night show, the vocalist revealed that she was heavily influenced by her hometown’s resident “trollop.” Parton explained, “I thought she was the most beautiful thing, because she had all this makeup, hair, tight clothes and everything I wanted.”

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Parton has also gone under the knife on countless occasions in order to achieve her desired look. And unlike many stars who resort to plastic surgery, the “Jolene” singer has never been afraid to admit it. In 2019 she told CBS Sunday Morning, “I’m not a natural beauty, but I can enhance it. Whatever it takes, I do. I try to make the most of everything.”

Dr. John Grossman, Parton’s regular cosmetic surgeon, told People magazine in 2003 about just a few of the procedures the country star has had. He said, “She has a generous bosom, which I augmented some years ago. She’s had her face rejuvenated on a number of occasions, [but] not a full face-lift.”

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Of course, when she first emerged on the country scene in her late teens, Parton had a far more natural look. As this 1965 photo shows, she still had an impressive beehive hairdo. In fact, it was so sky high that it even gave Dusty Springfield’s famous do a run for its money.

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Parton first made her name appearing alongside country singer Porter Wagoner on his self-titled show. And her fashion sense at this point was still a little demure. As you can see in this mid-performance photo, her dress is surprisingly understated. In fact, Parton’s duet partner undoubtedly looks more showbiz with his tailor-made Nudie suit.

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By the beginning of the 1970s, though, Parton had started to dress a little more rock and roll. In this black and white snap, the country singer can be seen joyfully strumming her instrument of choice, the guitar. And she’s dressed in a barroom-friendly outfit which is made entirely of denim.

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Of course, the guitar isn’t the only instrument that Parton can consider herself a master of. When she appeared at the U.K. Country Music Festival in 1976, the star delighted the crowd with her banjo skills. But instead of denim, Parton wore a more glamorous bejazzled pink dress complete with giant hoop earrings.

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Parton may have largely ignored the disco craze that swept the 1970s on a musical level. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t embrace its fashions. Here, the star looks set to hit the dancefloors of Studio 54 in a sparkling polka-dotted jumpsuit, which she complemented with a pair of platform boots.

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This 1977 snap proves once again that Parton could adapt her unique sense of style to any fashion scene. It shows the country singer embracing the hippie look with a denim shirt and a blouse sporting the same floral pattern as her headscarf. And as with her personality, Parton’s beaming smile also radiates positivity.

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Commiserations to anyone who tried to upstage Parton at the 19th Annual Grammys in 1977. The country singer stole the show at the music industry’s biggest night with one of her quintessential looks. Yes, with her massive blonde hair and frilly bright pink lace outfit, this is Parton at her most showbiz.

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Parton was always prepared to go a little shorter with her hair when it came to a film role, though. Here, she sports a much less mountainous, if still full-bodied, do for 1980’s 9 to 5. Parton starred as Doralee alongside Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda in the workplace comedy classic.

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Just four years later Parton went full-on country again when she appeared alongside in Rhinestone. The double threat played a Nashville star who needs to transform Sylvester Stallone’s objectionable taxi driver into a vocalist to win a wager. And her convincing attire included this bejazzled rodeo-friendly outfit complete with cowboy hat.

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As you would expect, Parton looked very different for the Rhinestone film premiere at New York’s Coronet Theater. Yes, the “Coat of Many Colors” singer rocked up on the red carpet with Stallone while wearing a glamorous high-slit white gown. And the giant bouffant she sported certainly wouldn’t have been able to fit under a cowboy hat.

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Parton was no doubt in her element in the 1980s, a decade when hairspray ruled the world. This picture taken from Walt Disney Television Studios shows that she also embraced another major fashion of the era, the shoulder pads. In fact, Parton looks primed to step straight on to the set of Dallas.

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But Parton’s previous attire looked relatively understated compared to this dazzling dress she wore in 1989. The country star certainly grabbed all the attention when she hit the red carpet at Manhattan’s Ziegfeld Theatre. For Parton donned an outfit that proved that sometimes diamonds really are a girl’s best friend.

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Later that same year, Parton showed yet again that she can be a fashion chameleon. While performing on Saturday Night Live, the Nashville icon fully embraced the rock chick look with her studded head-to-toe leather outfit. It was an ensemble which suggested she’d been taking tips from another music legend: Cher.

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But it turns out that Parton can occasionally keep it simple. In this red carpet pic taken in 1990 the Dollywood owner has opted for a jumpsuit that’s both relatively subtle in both its style and color. Of course, Parton still added some pizzazz with her red fingernails and blonde bouffant.

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Even when she’s on one of her own theme park attractions, Parton still looks every inch the country superstar. During the 1993 grand opening of her beloved Dollywood in the Tennessee city of Pigeon Forge, the Grammy winner hopped into a big wheel cart. Her blush red outfit, complete with dalmatian print cuffs, no doubt thrilled some fans just as much as the rides.

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Soon after turning the big 5-0, Parton proved she still knew how to flaunt it when she appeared on one of American TV’s biggest chat shows. The Joyful Noise star both chatted and performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in 1998. And Parton’s silvery outfit featured a see-through veil, which proudly displayed her legs.

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At the turn of the century, Parton addressed Washington’s National Press Club about her library initiative to donate 150,000 books to the nation’s kids. The philanthropist sported a pair of glasses for the occasion. And she also brightened up the place with a bedazzled outfit that was entirely lime green.

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The Magna Science and Adventure Park in South Yorkshire in the U.K. isn’t normally a place you’d expect to see a world-famous country music legend. But in 2007 Parton visited the attraction to promote her Imagination Library initiative. And once again she lit up the stage, this time with a spangly emerald green dress and possibly one of her wildest bouffants to date.

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In 2014 Parton was given the honor of performing in the Legends slot at one of the world’s biggest music festivals. And she sure dressed for the occasion. Yes, the country singer belted out all her hits in front of the Glastonbury crowd sporting what else but a rhinestone-clad jumpsuit.

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And Parton remains just as bold with her fashion choices now that she’s in her 70s. In 2019 she joined goddaughter Miley Cyrus on stage at the Staples Center for a performance at the Grammy Awards. And the star made sure all eyes were on her with a lacy white gown embroidered with daisies and diamonds. Plus the whole look was completed with her signature giant blonde wig.

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Ever wondered what Parton looks like without her mountain of hair? Well, in her 2020 book Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, the star allowed fans to see a pic taken in the recording studio when she was just 19. And it’s one of the few times that Parton has shown off her natural locks.

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You may be surprised to learn that the haircut in question is still pretty voluminous. It’s why Parton clarifies in the picture’s caption, “In case you’re wondering, yes, that’s my real hair.” And she sure seems proud of the fact. The singer posted the same black and white image on her Instagram account too.

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The response to this rare Parton pic which the country star captioned, “Where the magic happens,” was pretty much overwhelmingly positive. In the Instagram comments section next to the image, one fan replied, “Well, your real hair looks just fine.” Another remarked, “Dolly is beautiful just the way she is.”

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One particularly enthusiastic follower commented, “I have wanted to see Dolly’s real hair my entire life. She is one of the most beautiful people, inside and out, that I have ever seen… I just love Dolly Parton.” Another remarked, “This is my favorite Dolly picture. It shows all of her beauty stripped down to the basics.”

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Yet not everyone was convinced that Parton was telling the truth about the pic. In the comments section underneath an article on the Mirror website, one individual remarked, “Everybody loves Dolly simply because behind all the false stuff, a true talented people loving giant heart beats [sic]. But the real hair story is an absolute lie.”

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So how did the Dollywood founder develop such a passion for big hair? Well, in her 2020 book the country sensation revealed that she was inspired by the Frederick’s of Hollywood lingerie chain catalogs she saw as a teen. Parton said, “I wanted to feel like the way I thought all the movie stars in Hollywood did.”

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Parton goes on to explain how she honed her style during her early appearances on The Porter Wagoner Show. She wrote, “I wear my high heels and my hair as high as I can get it. I always wore my hair all teased up. Whenever that style started, I was the first to get my hair all poofy.”

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Yes, Parton initially tried to get the big-haired look the natural way. But once success started to come her way, the “I Will Always Love You” hitmaker decided to make it a little easier for herself. Out went the time-consuming hair products, and in came an array of ready-made beehives.

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Parton explains in Songteller: My Life in Lyrics, “Then as soon as I could buy those hairpieces and wigs, I wanted them. For one thing, they were so handy. Plus, my hair would never do exactly what I wanted it to do. So the wigs became kind of my trademark.”

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But not everyone approved of Parton’s fondness for super-sized hair. Chet Atkins, the singer’s mentor and fellow country star, once told his protégée that she would be better off ditching her now-trademark locks. The Nashville legend believed that Parton wouldn’t be taken seriously if she didn’t. As you’d expect, his comments didn’t go down too well.

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In a 2019 interview with fashion magazine Elle, Parton revealed exactly how she responded to her mentor. The star recalled telling Atkins, “You know what? I can’t separate the two. This is who I am.” Parton then further explained, “I not only didn’t tone it down, I figured if my work was truly good enough, people would eventually recognize that.”

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Parton added that feeling comfortable in her image was key to her sense of well-being. She said, “If I was happy, I could make other people happy. That’s how I’ve always looked at it: that I look totally artificial, but I am totally real, as a writer, as a professional, as a human being. A rhinestone shines just as good as a diamond.”

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Of course, that doesn’t mean that Parton walks around her home donning a super-sized wig. In the same Elle interview, the multiple Grammy winner revealed that she could be a little more casual when she was not in the spotlight. Parton said, “I don’t always wear [wigs] in my daily life, but I always still pouf up my hair. I still like to have that flashy hair.”

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Parton continued, “When I’m around home, I wear my little scrunchies, but I always put on some makeup and fix my own hair as cute as I can fix it. Wigs are just so handy. I’m so busy, and I have so many choices. I never have a bad hair day, and that’s a good thing.”

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Although Parton has revealed what she looks like sans wig, don’t ever expect to see her sans makeup.  In 2019 she told newspaper The New York Times, “You never know if you’re going to wreck the bus, you never know if you’re going to be somewhere in a hotel and there’s going to be a fire. So I leave my makeup on at night and clean my face in the morning.”

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