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Dolly Parton typically doesn’t admit or deny affairs. But in an interview she did with Playboy back in 1978, she said if she ever did decide to participate in an affair, that her husband, Carl Dean, would never find out.

Dolly Parton in a car.
Dolly Parton | The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images

How Dolly Parton and Carl Dean would feel if the other had an affair, according to the ‘Jolene’ singer

The interviewer asked Parton if Dean was “jealous.”

“Not a bit,” she answered. “I’m not, either.”

When he asked if it would “matter if [Carl Dean] were seeing someone else while [she was] away,” Parton said, “He’s not.”

But if he were, she wouldn’t want to know.

“And he wouldn’t want to tell me,” she said. “But if he did, it wouldn’t be like the end of the world for me. I would just say it was as much my fault as his. I would probably cry and pout for a day for the attention of it, and then it would be over. To me, life is life and people is people. You cannot control every emotion that you have.”

Parton said, at the time, she believed he would feel the same way were she to have an affair.

“He wouldn’t want to know,” she said. “I think I would keep it from him. He would be more apt to tell than me.”

Dolly Parton said in 1978 that if she ever had an affair, she wouldn’t involve her husband

“Someone on the road as much as you could sleep around a lot,” said the interviewer.

“How do you know I don’t?” she asked.

The interviewer said because she spoke so “freely and guiltlessly” about her marriage. “You’d have to really be a good actress to cover up a lot of affairs,” he said.

“Oh, I am,” Parton responded.


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Parton went on to say that whether she does have an affair or not is her concern alone.

“If I was ever weak enough to do something like that, it would never involve [Carl], he would never know it, he would never feel any effects from it,” she said.

The “9 to 5” singer suggested that an affair could possibly even be a positive thing if it enhanced her life and her husband never knew about it.

“Let’s put it this way: If I wanted to do it, I would; if I should do it, it would affect nobody but me and the person involved,” she said. “Maybe it would be somethin’ that would even make me a happier person.”

“But couldn’t it also lead to complications in your life?” asked the interviewer.

“Well, kiss me, we’ll see,” she said.

‘There is no way in heaven’s name that I could ever leave Carl’

While Parton spoke about not involving Dean if she were to ever have an affair, she also said she’d never do anything to lose him.

“There are a few people that I have been attracted to real strong, but I avoid that,” she said. “There is no way in heaven’s name that I could ever leave Carl, so why should I put myself and another person through that kind of torment?”

Dean and Parton have always had an understanding.

“He knows I ain’t goin’ nowhere,” she said. “No matter who I met or what kind of an affair I might ever have, ain’t nobody in this world could take Carl’s place. There ain’t no way in this world I’d ever lose this man.”

Today, Parton and Dean have been happily married for 54 years.